(The Sports Xchange) - With his team trailing Toronto 26-5 midway through the first quarter Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel called a much-needed timeout during which he did not mince words.
“I’m not sure I can actually repeat what I said, but essentially, it was about getting our defense right, something we have talked about for the past five games,” Vogel said.
Indiana countered with a 39-4 run on its way to a roller-coaster 106-90 victory over the Raptors.
Indiana’s huge run that spanned the end of the first quarter and start of the second quarter gave the Pacers a 44-30 lead, and they never trailed again, beating the Raptors for the first time in the past six meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals.
“Obviously, I wasn’t happy about our start, but most the shots (the Raptors) were making were over the top (9 of 11), and the key to beating them usually is keeping them out of the lane,” Vogel said.
After the hot start, Toronto made only 20 of its final 68 field goal attempts.
Forward Jordan Hill led the Pacers (14-9) with 20 points and 13 rebounds, each a season high. Guard Monta Ellis scored 18, guard/forward C.J. Miles added 17, forward Paul George scored 16, and guard Rodney Stuckey had 10.
Guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan each had 20 for Toronto (16-10).
“We started getting up into them and not letting them get comfortable,” said Miles, who was 5 of 5 from 3-point range.
“We forced them into some turnovers and into some tough shots. To be good, we have to be active on defense. On offense, it was about making good passes.”
Indiana features what Vogel refers to as two lineups — the spread lineup and the big lineup. With Hill and Lavoy Allen coming off the bench for 28 points and 23 rebounds, the big lineup worked well Monday night.
“The start was pretty scary, but we got back into it and then won it with defense,” Jordan Hill said.
A George 3-pointer with 8:57 remaining gave the Pacers an 83-69 lead.
Another George 3-pointer with 7:29 extended the advantage to 88-71. A Miles 3-pointer with 4:50 on clock gave Indiana a 97-76 lead.
“Teams that play a traditional (power forward) have trouble guarding Miles,” Vogel said. “We also created a lot of stuff inside and got a good game from Ellis.”
Indiana led 73-64 through 36 minutes, limiting Toronto to 37 percent field goal shooting after three quarters. The Raptors wound up at 36.7 percent from the floor, while the Pacers hit 47.7 percent of their shots.
A pair of 3-pointers from Miles helped give Indiana a 64-46 lead in the third quarter. The Raptors countered with a 10-0 run to trim the deficit to 64-56. An Ellis layup extended the Indiana lead to 71-59.
Trailing 26-5 after a Lowry field goal with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter, the Pacers scored the game’s next 22 points.
“A lot of that was on us, being careless with the ball, and they brought energy and juice,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “We did not match their energy. I don’t know if I have ever seen anything like that (22-0 run).
“We shot ourselves in the foot. We were making one-handed passes, playing in the mud, not going anywhere and not being assertive. You can’t beat good teams in the league playing like that.”
Indiana began the second quarter with a 17-2 run, capped by a 3-point play from Ellis. Indiana led 52-41 through 24 minutes, thanks in part to a second quarter in which the Raptors made only three of 15 field-goal attempts (20 percent) and were guilty of seven turnovers.
Ellis had 13 first-half points, and Hill came off the bench for nine. The Pacers’ non-starters outscored the Raptors’ reserves 25-8 during the first 24 minutes, making 10 of 17 field goal attempts. Overall, Indiana enjoyed a 47-27 edge in bench points.
Lowry had 14 in the opening half to lead Toronto, and DeRozan added nine.
“They picked up their aggressiveness, and we didn’t match their intensity,” Lowry said of Indiana’s big comeback. “They picked up their physicality and had more energy than us.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly