The Toronto Raptors nearly blew another double-digit lead to the Indiana Pacers, but survived five potential game- tying or go-ahead shots in the final 22.9 seconds to come away with a 74-72 victory.
The Raptors, coming off a triple-overtime loss to the Jazz on Monday, played front-runner most of the night, then shot a pitiful 1-of-15 from the field in the fourth quarter.
The dreadful showing allowed the Pacers to pull within two points down the stretch, but David West, Paul George and George Hill all missed in the closing seconds to give Toronto its first road win of the season and second overall.
Jose Calderon posted his first career triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds while DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points for the Raptors, who have blown four double-digits leads this season, including in its season opener against the Pacers.
Hill, the hero in that Oct. 31 contest with a late bucket, scored a game-high 18 points in defeat.
Indiana shot just 32 percent for the game, but almost clawed back from a 15- point deficit in the second half thanks to Toronto’s cold streak.
Hill netted eight points in the fourth quarter, including two on a tough layup to pull within 71-68 with 3:54 remaining.
The Pacers missed their next four shots, however, and three Toronto free throws pushed the margin to six points with under two minutes to play.
A pair of George free throws followed by a Hill bucket made it a one- possession game. Amir Johnson missed a 3-point try from the top of the key to give the ball back to Indiana with under 40 seconds on the clock.
West missed twice in the paint, but tapped the second rebound back to George in the left corner. George was also off the mark but chased down the long carom and called timeout with 13.8 ticks left.
Hill drew iron out of the timeout, and again the rebound came back to George, whose 15-footer at the buzzer hit nothing but rim.
Calderon and DeRozan combined to shoot 8-of-9 from the field in the first quarter for 18 total points as the Raptors jumped out to a 29-21 lead.
The Pacers scored 13 of the first 17 points of the game, but went cold the rest of the half. They were behind by as many as 14 in the second quarter and went into the break trailing, 46-36.
A free-throw filled third quarter ended with the Raptors in front, 69-58.
Game Notes: The Pacers had won four straight in the series and seven in a row at home … Toronto’s previous win in Indiana came on Feb. 25, 2008 … The Pacers had 23 fastbreak points to Toronto’s four … George and West netted 12 and 11 points, respectively, but combined to shoot 23 percent (6-of-26) from the field.
Quoting Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel
“A tough loss. Give credit to Toronto for playing a gutsy game after a tough loss last night. That situation (playing back to back, getting in late) happens a lot of the time and a team is so disgruntled (Toronto loss in 3 overtimes). They played their hardest game of the year. It was hard for us to put the ball in the hole. We’ve got multiple guys in shooting slumps right now. We’re getting a number of open looks at the rim and they’re not going down. Tyler (Hansbrough) was playing out of his mind again. I’ve got to find more minutes for him. He impacted the game at both ends.”
Quoting Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey
“Our defense carried us. Defense will travel well. If your defense is not rolling, you’re going to get beat by 20. Tonight our guys willed their way through the fourth quarter. They had no legs to score. But our guys stuck together. (On Jose Calderon’s play which included a triple-double) It’s his will. Big time will. I’ve always said how much I respect Jose. He knew he had to bring it tonight. We got off to a slow start, but he got us going. He jump-started us. He was running on fumes. (On whether this win can boost the team) It’s got to be huge. Like I told them, this has to be the start. We deserved to win that game.”
Quoting the Pacers’ George Hill
“(On the last offensive possession) We got good looks at the end but it was really frustrating that we couldn’t get the ball to go down. Tonight it seemed like we were lacking energy, not as individuals but as a group. We couldn’t get things to convert on both ends. We didn’t make the stops when we needed because our defense a lot of times drives our offense. (On the 3 OT game Toronto had last night) They definitely came in here with a chip on their shoulders. You have to tip your hat to Toronto. Our normal shots that we had good looks on just didn’t fall consistently.”
Quoting the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson
“(On energy level) I thought we came out aggressively. And then we had a big letdown towards the end of the first quarter and it affected everybody. (On Pacers going back to back) I’m ready to go right now. We have to get our focus back. Yes, it was a frustrating night, but tomorrow we’re going to come out and show an energy level that we didn’t have tonight.”
Quoting the Raptors’ Jose Calderon
“(On the defensive effort and holding the Pacers to 72 points) We’ve been working hard on defense. We’ve been helping each other. Everybody who steps on the court gives us something positive. I think we had one field goal in the fourth quarter and still won the game. That’s great. (On persevering after a triple overtime game the night before) We were tired. I think that’s why we started missing shots. The legs just weren’t there anymore.”
Quoting the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan
“(On the team defense) We were exhausted. But it’s about gutting it out. We had to rely on something, and it wasn’t our offense tonight. (On the fourth quarter play) It was all mental and heart. (Can this win jump-start the team?) This definitely can. We know we can play with anybody, so hopefully this is the turning point.”