(The Sports Xchange) - The Toronto Raptors came out tight in the opening game of their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday and it played right into the hands of Paul George.
The Pacers forward played footloose and fancy free in the second half, scoring 17 points in the third quarter and 10 more in the fourth, to lead his team to a 100-90 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
George, who finished with 33 points, said he watched video at halftime and that helped him.
“I was trying to figure out a better approach and come into the second half with a better focus,” he said. “I knew I was going to be able to get some good looks and I just had to be smarter about how I took them.”
“Awesome,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “The biggest reason we won. There’s a lot of reasons, a lot of guys made winning plays and impacted the game in a positive way.
“Paul’s shot-making at the end of the game was spectacular. It’s been a long road for him in terms of actually getting back to the court but before his injury, we were in the conference finals.”
The second-seeded Raptors now have lost the opening game at home in the playoffs in three straight years. They did not survive the first round of the playoffs in the previous two.
“As a team, as a whole, I thought we were tight,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I know our team today did not play to our identity, but I know we’ll come back Monday night and play to our identity.”
The Raptors shot 38 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers leading to 25 points. The Pacers, who trailed by two points at the half, shot 43 percent from the field and made 13 turnovers leading to 14 points.
“The turnovers shot us in the foot,” Casey said. “Like the soft passes, not really setting solid screens.”
The Raptors led by as many as eight in the first half but took only a two-point lead into the intermission. With George leading the way, the Pacers led by three points going into the fourth quarter.
Editing by Andrew Both