Math is a concrete fact of reality. At least that's what we tell ourselves. So when the Pacers are shooting 70 percent from three after 12 minutes, and then 66 percent after 24 minutes, and still after three quarters they're shooting 52 percent from three, we want to believe that it will all even out. Teams usually shoot less than 40 percent from three in a game after all. Sure, the Raptors were perhaps to blame for some of that good fortune. They left men wide open on the perimeter for more than half the game. It got ugly, it felt ugly; there was much despair. The Raptors were down 90-77 after three quarters. But math isn't called math for no reason -- there are rules.
The Raptors were bad for 75 percent of this game. Maybe it was the change to the starting lineup with Patrick Patterson in for Luis Scola (who didn't play at all), maybe it was DeMarre Carroll (who is working very hard to try to slow Paul George down) feeling a little extra creaky today, maybe it was Jonas Valanciunas getting whacked in the head one too many times -- something was up. Kyle Lowry, who acknowledged his poor play on Sunday, looked wildly out of sorts. There was no spark. There was no life. Toronto, the team and the city, were ready to call it a series.
But, math. There are 48 minutes in a basketball game. And for those final 12, the Raptors worked to bring things back into the balance, even if it looked and often felt absurd to watch. To start the fourth, the Raptors went on a 21-2 run. They finished by outscoring the Pacers 25-9. By the time the final buzzer sounded, after a just too late Solomon Hill three was called off, the Raptors had won 102-99. It was one of the more astounding runs in team history.
For the Raptors, there are supposed to be constants. DeMar DeRozan is supposed to score points. Tonight, he had 34 on 10-of-22 shooting, including a massive 3 in the dying minutes to give the team its first lead. DeRozan has been dogged for most of this series against the Pacers, but the man has faith in himself, there's no denying that. For good measure, DeMar even shot 12-of-13 from the free throw line, presumably to remind us he still could.
Other positives: Bismack Biyombo with a massive 16 rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Terrence Ross with an unconscious three to bring the Raptors within two. (Though in typical Ross fashion, he missed three straight 3s before sitting for the rest of the game.) And Norman Powell, thrust into action once again, holding George (who went for 39 points in total) to only two points, a single bucket, in the fourth quarter. He also did this to tie the game at 92 and send the ACC into a frenzy:
There were so many things in the first three quarters of this game that suggested the Raptors were going to lose. Lowry was bad, Valanciunas was mostly invisible, Carroll was a shell of himself. Cory Joseph and Patterson were steady but hardly sterling. The turnovers mounted early, and of course, the Pacers were shooting the lights out. George in particular looked set to personally destroy the entire GTA if he could.
But the old law of averages can happen. Sometimes the math does check out. And it equals the Raptors going up 3-2.
What did you guys think of the game?