There’s different kinds of karma that could result in a Raptors loss, but this one feels justified. On a night where Indiana lost Victor Oladipo to — and this isn’t overstating it — a catastrophic knee injury, the Pacers rallied around their injured teammate and pulled out a great defensive performance, eventually burying the Raptors 110-106.
Oladipo’s injury will certainly be the story of this game, as it happened after the midway point in the second quarter. Chasing Pascal Siakam on a breakaway, Oladipo stopped up and fell without contact, staying down with what looked like a dislocation in his knee. He was taken out on a stretcher, leaving what’s become a really solid Pacers team in the lurch. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski gave some more detail on the injury after the game.
Preliminary exam has left Pacers with fear that Victor Oladipo has suffered a season-ending knee injury that will require surgery, league sources tell ESPN. He will undergo an MRI on Thursday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 24, 2019
The Raptors, for their part, made a game of it late. After being down by as many as 12 in the third quarter and with tired legs dogging their jump shots all night, a mishmash lineup of Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Patrick McCaw, and Serge Ibaka went on a decent run to start the fourth, eventually making it a three-point game with 6:37 left.
A fiery Kyle Lowry and the starters returned to try to close the deal, but the Pacers did just enough to hold on to the win.
Lowry was excellent for the Raptors on Wednesday. He had 20 points in a signature pugnacious game: ticked off early by the officials, spending the rest of the game snarling and flying around the court. He had seven assists, five rebounds, and a block to prop up his line. Another through line of a great Lowry game is a great Serge Ibaka game, which held up here. Ibaka led all Raptors with 23 points and 11 rebounds, making 11-of-19 shots.
Thaddeus Young led the Pacers with an identical 23 points, adding 15 rebounds. For his part, the Indiana broadcast couldn’t say enough nice things about Young’s leadership without Oladipo on the floor. Considering his flip shot with 10.8 seconds left put the Pacers up three, that shone through tonight.
Toronto’s last ditch attempt to tie the game was made by Danny Green, whose three was relatively open from the corner but missed short.
The Raptors didn’t do themselves any favours with their start in this one. For a team that’s been very good on back-to-backs this year, even if Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played in one yet, this one looked more prototypical. Toronto started 3-for-10 from the field, eventually finishing the first quarter with just 16 points on sub-25% shooting. The Pacers made a concerted effort to push the Raptors’ attempts outside. In response, Toronto took the open shots they were given, but just couldn’t can any.
Indiana built on their lead in the second quarter, as they thoroughly dominated a matchup of bench centres, with Domantas Sabonis getting wide open space in pick and roll competition with Greg Monroe. With Chris Boucher playing with the Raptors 905 tonight, Toronto was down to just two centres — while Monroe played just eight minutes, he was exposed by Indiana’s downhill bench offence and was pulled pretty quickly. Despite Oladipo’s injury, the Pacers led by 12 at the half.
The third quarter was mostly Kyle Lowry trying anything and everything to get the Raptors some momentum back. Five points early in the quarter made the deficit single digits, but another run of scoring from Sabonis balanced his play late in the quarter.
Finally, in the fourth, the Raptors bench unit found pay dirt for a good stretch. That led the game to its tight conclusion, where the Pacers got a key jumper from Darren Collison before Thad Young’s floater essentially sealed it.
The Raptors fall to 36-14 with the loss, while Indiana improves to 32-15. Toronto is off for a short western trip to Houston and Dallas next, with the Rockets coming up on Friday.