(The Sports Xchange) - When the Indiana Pacers are more than All-Star forward Paul George’s prolific scoring, they usually are difficult to beat.
George had a game-best 21 points and 11 rebounds Friday, but the Pacers used smothering defense, solid rebounding and a dominating second half to defeat the Toronto Raptors 101-83 in Game 6, tying the best-of-seven series 3-3 and forcing Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto.
After leading 65-64 late in the third quarter, Indiana used a 32-5 run to increase its lead to 97-69 with 3:02 remaining.
Indiana limited the Raptors to 36.7 percent shooting, only 39 second-half points and outrebounded Toronto 44-40, also scoring 20 points as the result of 17 Raptors’ turnovers.
”The Indiana Pacers have to beat the Raptors instead of just Paul George beating the Raptors,“ Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. ”Our defense and our rebounding turned this game.
“We stayed with our big lineup to start the second half, and we executed our offense much better in the second half. We have to be able to hold a lead, and tonight we did that.”
The Pacers scored the fourth quarter’s first six points and led 77-64 with 10:38 remaining, prompting a Toronto timeout. The run became 12-0 for an 83-64 advantage. Indiana shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.
Rookie Myles Turner had 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, Monta Ellis scored 14 and George Hill and Ian Mahinmi each scored 12.
“Tonight was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in,” Turner said of avoiding elimination. “I‘m not ready for summer, and I‘m not ready to go fishing.”
Cory Joseph had 15 for Toronto, DeMarre Carroll also scored 15, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 14 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry scored 10.
DeMar DeRozan struggled again for the Raptors, making 3 of 13 field goal attempts and scoring eight points. He is shooting 32 percent in the series.
“We couldn’t score, and that really allowed them to get into transition,” DeRozan said of Toronto’s second-half meltdown. “The Pacers’ team defense has been really tough the whole series, and George Hill especially has played good defense.”
Indiana opened the third quarter with a 15-6 run, including 3-pointers for Ellis, Turner and George Hill, to lead 55-50 with 7:19 on the clock. The Pacers scored the third quarter’s final six points to lead 71-64 through 36 minutes.
“Our offense just went down the drain in the third quarter,” Lowry said. “But it’s a seven-game series, and we have to stay after it. We know what is at stake in Game 7.”
The Pacers outscored the Raptors 31-20 in the third quarter and outrebounded Toronto 12-5 in the period. Indiana was 10 of 15 from the field in the third quarter.
Solomon Hill came off the bench to sink three 3-pointers and also give the Pacers a defensive boost.
“We did a really good job collectively on the defensive end,” Solomon Hill said. “We maintained that defensive tenacity throughout the entire game. Now we just have to go into Game 7 and leave everything out there on the floor.”