Thank God that's over. In a Saint Patrick's Day clash where both teams looked like they indulged in some green beer prior to tip-off, the Toronto Raptors came up big when it counted and improved to 46-21 on the season Thursday evening.
Tied with Indiana at 85 at the end of regulation, the Raps once again relied heavily on Kyle Lowry and the Pacers simply ran out of gas. The Raptors have now won 31 consecutive games when they hold opponents to under 100 points.
Lowry finished with 27 points on 8-for-21 shooting, however the point guard did commit a game-high eight turnovers, including a noticeable blunder with less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan followed suit, notching 28 while converting on 10 of 12 free throws. DeRozan's stellar performance in the fourth quarter is a major reason this game saw overtime, as the USC product bounced back nicely from an ugly first half.
But the real story in this one was the unbelievable play of Bismack Biyombo. The big man, who started in place of the injured Jonas Valanciunas, grabbed 25 rebounds - a franchise record and a career-high. Donyell Marshall previously held the mark of 24 that was set all the way back in February of 2004.
Simply put, the Raps wouldn't have had a hope in hell of winning this game if it weren't for the Congo native. Biyombo also poured in 16 points, tying another career-best.
This was a game to forget from the bench. Of Toronto's 101 combined points, only 14 came from the second unit. Terrence Ross struggled, going 2-for-8 from the floor and Jason Thompson had a tough evening that culminated in a minus-21 for the newly acquired power forward.
How good does Masai Ujiri's offseason decision to pluck Biyombo out of the bargain bin look now? It's going to be extremely hard for the Raps to keep Biyombo as a result of the breakout campaign, but his importance to this squad cannot be stressed enough at this point.
Play-by-play man Matt Devlin advised the Raptors to collect the W and move on without looking at much game tape, which may not be a bad idea. Both teams are much better than they showed, and off nights happen in this league.
In light of the loss, Indiana falls to 36-32 but remains in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. We could be seeing more of this team in the not-so-distant postseason future.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey recorded his 200th victory in the win, becoming the only bench boss in team history to reach that number.
Toronto won't have any time to catch its collective breath as a date with the Boston Celtics north of the border awaits on Friday. That's going to be the Raptors' fourth game in five nights - the only time this season that will happen.
What did you guys think of the game? How hungover are you at work today? Let us know in the comment section.