As Dwane Casey said in the post game interview, "The Raptors had every excuse in the world to lose this one."
Just one day ago, the Raptors lost a triple overtime thriller at the hands of the Jazz. Bargnani, DeRozan and Calderon all played 49+ minutes, and seemed exhausted by games end. After the heartbreaking loss, they hurried onto a plane that took them to Indianapolis. They landed at 2:30 AM, while most of us were sleeping.
The team wasn't just tired, they were banged up. Lowry, Fields and Anderson were once again unavailable to play due to injury, which was a huge blow to the squad.
Most fans, including myself, expected a blowout from the Pacers tonight. At the start of the game, it appeared we were right.
In the first two minutes of the game Indiana jumped out to a 9-2 lead, and the Raptors had no energy. Dwane Casey called a quick timeout, and the Raptors transformed into a new team. They started out-hustling, and simply out-playing the Pacers. The Raptors went on a 20-8 run after the Casey timeout, and took a convincing lead.
Just as the Raptors did in the opener against Indiana, they held their lead until the forth quarter, then started giving up ground. As soon as the fourth quarter hit, the Raptors offense became non-existent. Jose Calderon took numerous fade-away jumpers, and Amir Johnson even heaved a shot-clock-winding-down three pointer after the Raptors passed the ball around for 23 seconds. The Raptors scored just 5 points in the forth quarter, and still (somehow) managed to hold on and win the game, largely due to Indiana having their own problems offensively.
The tired Raptors beat the Pacers 74-72 despite a horrid fourth quarter, and finally got their second win of the season. Jose Calderon led the team for the whole game, achieving a triple double with 13 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Calderon grabbed more rebounds than anyone on either team, which includes 7 footers JV, Bargs and Roy Hibbert. How he managed that, I have no idea. Andrea struggled with his shot once again, and was very ineffective tonight offensively. Valanciunas and Amir were the best big men on the floor tonight, and played with the type of effort and grit the Raptors need to see consistently from them.
The Raptors next game is Saturday against the Celtics, and we'll be live blogging it up once more.