Toronto continues to build a solid case for at least the No 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and may have what it takes to reel in the Cleveland Cavaliers, who now lead the Raptors by only two games in the loss column.
That’s in large part because Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make big plays when big plays are needed, which was the case Thursday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Lowry and DeRozan scored 28 points apiece, and Toronto pulled away from the Indiana Pacers in overtime for a 101-94 victory.
DeRozan missed a potential game-winning shot at the regulation buzzer, but Lowry and DeRozan scored nine quick overtime points, helping the Raptors (46-21) take a 94-88 lead with1:17 remaining.
“We understand that someone on our team is eventually going to get hot late in a game,” DeRozan said. “I started to hit some, and then Kyle got it going as well.
“We did a good job on Paul George, but that’s everybody following the scouting report and understanding what they try to do. When you make it difficult for them, it’s tough to shoot well.”
Indiana (36-32) slipped to 1-7 in overtime games. The Pacers got 18 points apiece from Paul George and George Hill, but George was only 7 of 24 from the field, including only 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
Bismack Biyombo added 16 points and 25 rebounds for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.
“We are still in the learning process and are still trying to put things together,” Biyombo said. “I just play for my teammates. I was just playing and trying to get rebounds.”
Toronto coach Dwane Casey said two factors won it for the Raptors.
“Our defense won it, along with Bismack getting 25 rebounds,” Casey said. “if we had one more guy to rebound, it would really help us, but he did a hell of a job on the boards. Kyle and DeMar did a really nice job attacking the basket, because Indiana is one of the better defensive teams in the league.”
Indiana, which also got 13 points from C.J. Miles and 12 from Solomon Hill, forced overtime when Monta Ellis made 1 of 2 free throws with 14.2 seconds left in regulation.
The Pacers, though, had no answer for DeRozan and Lowry in the extra five minutes.
“Give them credit,” Miles said. “They have two All-Star guards who make tough shots. That team has a lot of talent.”
Indiana coach Frank Vogel was disappointed with the way the Pacers played.
“They made big plays down the stretch,” Vogel said. “We couldn’t contain Lowry and DeRozan, and they really attacked our bigs.”
One of those bigs was rookie forward Myles Turner, who had nine points and 10 rebounds but was limited to 18:12 because of foul trouble. He finished with five fouls on a night when the Raptors were 30 of 38 from the free throw line, and the Pacers were 16 of 23.
“It’s very frustrating,” Turner said. “Biyombo is very active, and tonight, he was really effective.”
The Raptors out-rebounded the Pacers, 57-48. Toronto shot only 36.4 percent from the field (32 of 88), but Indiana shot only 38.5 percent (35 of 91).
Toronto outscored Indiana 13-4 in the third quarter’s final 7:17 to lead 63-60 with 12 minutes remaining. Neither team shot well in the third quarter – Toronto was 8 of 23 and Indiana was 7 of 18.
George Hill’s 3-pointer from the right corner at the halftime horn gave the Pacers a 46-43 halftime lead after Toronto led by as many as 10 in the first quarter.
Neither team shot well during the first 24 minutes. Indiana made 17 of 47 and Toronto sank 13 of 41. The Raptors out-rebounded the Pacers 28-26 during the first two quarters but also made one more turnover than Indiana 9-8.
Lowry had 10 first-half points for Toronto, and George led Indiana with 12. Jordan Hill had 11 and George Hill scored 10.