USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors ended the Indiana Pacers 15-game home winning streak with an epic 100-98 OT victory last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The HQ's Christopher Walder takes a look back at what was easily one of the Raps biggest W's of the season.
I'm still trying to catch my breath over last night's amazing game.
Well, the last 17 minutes were pretty damn exciting, that's for sure.
For the first three quarters, that clash between the Raptors and Pacers could have cured insomnia. The pace was slow and tedious, and the Indiana crowd was so quiet, you could hear Aaron Gray slowly scratching away at his beard on the sidelines.
Let's just get to the juicy bits, shall we?
The Pacers had a 72-64 lead at the end of three quarters. Indiana was playing its fourth game in five nights, and it started to show in the fourth quarter as they started off missing their first eight shots, allowing the Raptors to come back and eventually tie the game.
Then, inexplicably, Pacers forward David West threw an arrant inbounds pass which was intercepted by Gay and thrown to Johnson. Amir drove the lane and tossed up a runner off the backboard which bounced off the front of the rim. He grabbed the offensive rebound and laid the ball back in with time expiring to send the game into overtime at 90-90.
Amir eventually fouled out early in the extra period, but his contributions in this game mustn't go unnoticed. He finished the night with a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds. He also chipped in three assists, two blocked shots (including one in OT) and one steal.
He may not be the flashiest player on this roster, but he's certainly been the most consistent. It's hard to argue with that.
Now that I've given credit where credit is due to Amir Johnson, how about I shine the spotlight on the man of the hour, Rudy Carlton Gay.
With just ten seconds left in overtime and the score locked at 98 a piece, the Toronto Raptors had a chance to close out the game and take the final shot.
Cue Rudy Gay.
Rudy hit a jumper over Paul George with 1.7 seconds remaining to put the Raptors up 100-98, which wound up being the final score.
We finally have a closer, ladies and gentlemen.
Gay scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to help Toronto pull out the victory. Sure, through the first 36 minutes of action, Rudy was so unproductive, you would have thought he was Alan Anderson (0-1 from the floor, zero points, one rebound, one assist).
Well, that's pushing it, but you get the idea.
When Toronto needed Rudy to make an impact, he delivered. All anyone is really going to remember is how effective Gay was near the end of the game. That's all we needed from him on this night. Big buckets at big moments. That's the key.
DeMar DeRozan deserves to be commended for his performance tonight, as well. DD had 15 points in the first half, finishing the night with 22 in total on 7 for 17 shooting. Without DeMar, this game could have gotten real ugly, real fast early on.
How about Jonas Valanciunas? After playing just two minutes against the Boston Celtics in the Raptors previous outing, Valanciunas stepped up big time and delivered a terrific stat line of 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots in 26 minutes of action. He had a swagger and confidence to his game that got me excited to watch him play again. After being injured for so long and playing so little in his return, I was starting to lose faith in Jonas getting the PT needed for him to continue his development at a steady pace. This is just the kind of outing he needed to impress coach Casey and get back some of his minutes in the rotation.
By the way, what the heck is up with Tyler Hansbrough?
Are you serious, bro?
Was Dana White in attendance or something? It looked like Tyler was auditioning for a potential spot in the UFC.
He blatently tossed Valanciunas to the ground and nearly caused him to seriously reinjure his hand.
Does Hansbrough deserve a fine or suspension for this act?
Well, it wasn't called during the actual game, but I sincerely hope the league looks at this play and comes down hard on Tyler.
It was a punk act that deserves a strict punishment.
The Raptors look to build off of this huge win in Indiana Sunday night as they host the New Orleans Hornets (or Pelicans....whatever) at the ACC.
Tipoff is at 6:00 pm.
If you show up at 1:00 pm (usual start time), just expect to be hanging around Union Station for a long, long time.
You've been warned.