You don’t win 13 straight games without being able to deal with a little, or in the Toronto Raptors’ case, alot, of adversity. The Toronto Raptors entered tonight’s road tilt against the Indiana Pacers without two key players in Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, and part way through the contest they lost a third, as Kyle Lowry exited the game with another injury. Nonetheless, the Raptors rallied, and through a group effort that saw six players score in double figures, they were able to take down the Pacers 115-106, tacking another win to their franchise record win streak.
After the Pacers shot 48 percent from deep when they played the Raptors on Wednesday night, the Raps returned the favour early on in this contest, pouring in points from deep. The Raptors began the game by making 7-of-13 from long-range in the first quarter, including a couple tough threes off the dribble from Lowry (one of which was banked in).
Serge Ibaka initially struggled with the Pacers’ size on the interior, beginning 0-of-5 from the floor, but Pascal Siakam and Lowry were able to use their speed to get free around the basket and buoy the Raptors’ interior scoring. One of those baskets from Lowry got him to 9,422 points in his Raptors career, passing Vince Carter to put him third on the Raptors’ all-time scoring list.
On the flip side of things, Victor Oladipo got off to an inspired start to help keep the Pacers in striking distance, but he exited the game midway through the quarter and headed to the tunnel. Oladipo would return to the game, but he may still feeling some lingering effects of the quad injury that had sidelined him until recently. All things told, the first quarter came to a close the with Raptors leading 36-31.
To begin the 2nd, the Raptors’ paint defense was lacking, as they bled points to Domantas Sabonis offensive rebounds and straight line drives from the Pacers’ guards. They still managed to maintain, and even widen their lead. Serge Ibaka scored 11 in the quarter after getting shut down in the first, and Fred VanVleet sliced up the Pacers defense with drives and dishes.
However, the Pacers closed the gap back up with a quick 7-0 run late in the quarter, a run that was punctuated by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson swiping Pascal Siakam in the eye, sending Siakam to the locker room early. The Raptors battled it out down the stretch run of the quarter without their All-Star, and were able to hold onto their lead, though just barely, as they went to the half up 64-63.
The Raptors’ fanbase breathed a sigh of relief as Siakam returned to the game to start the third quarter, though he was sporting a bright red eye as he left the locker room. However, it was OG Anunoby, not Siakam, who gave the Raptors the lift they needed early in the quarter to hang onto their lead. Anunoby scored 11 of his 16 points in the the third, as he scored double-digit points for the first time in 6 games tonight.
Anunoby also provided his usual stout defense, forcing several turnovers early in the second half. He wasn’t the only one, as Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were also able to pick off the Pacers, notching transition baskets in the process. Lowry began to pick apart the Indy defense in the halfcourt as well, operating with Serge Ibaka in the pick and roll to get his big man some easy shots and banging a pull-up three.
Then potential disaster struck, as Lowry was fouled on a circus layup and fell into Ibaka’s leg, injuring his shoulder in the process. To add insult to injury he didn’t even get continuation on the play. Lowry’s injury was called “whiplash” by the team and he was taken out for the rest of the game. He would finish with 16 points and 11 assists on the night.
Update: Kyle Lowry (whiplash) will not return.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 8, 2020
With Lowry exiting the spotlight was thrust onto Pascal Siakam, as he was asked to carry the Raptors offense towards the end of the quarter. Siakam would ultimately go 0-for-7 in the frame, his struggles rather understandable given that the eye injury he’d suffered just minutes before. Despite Siakam’s troubles and Lowry’s injury the Raptors still carried a 87-84 lead into the fourth.
With Siakam limited by injury and Lowry out for the rest of the game the Raptors would need a group effort in the fourth to take the game home. They got it: Terence Davis sliced and cut to the rim en-route to 17 points on the game and absolutely erased a three-point shot by Raptor-killer Doug McDermott.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson facilitated out of the post and threw down a dunk overtop Myles Turner. Serge Ibaka was crucial, fearlessly firing away from midrange and deep. Ibaka would lead the Raptors in points on the night, notching 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Fred VanVleet shepherded the offense well in Lowry’s absence, finishing with 20 points and 7 assists.
Even with Siakam scoring just two points in the second half (he’d finish with 15 on the game) the Raptors were able to grow their lead throughout the quarter. The Raptors held a ten point lead with three minutes remaining in the game, but unlike the Pacers’ ten point lead on Wednesday, this one was safe, as the Raps methodically put Indiana away, eventually winning 115-106.
The Lowry injury looms large (could whiplash mean concussion protocol? I don’t know) but this Raptors’ team is deep and resilient, as tonight’s game showed. They’ve dealt with injuries all year, and with or without Lowry they’ll look to keep growing their franchise record win streak.