Pacers hold off Raptors, win fifth straight
INDIANAPOLIS — As the Indiana Pacers have done all season, they continue to rely on balance.
They have now won 11 of 19 games during a season in which some NBA analysts predicted no more than 35 victories after the Paul George trade to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo.
On Friday night, Oladipo scored 21 points, Bojan Bogdanovic added 19 and Lance Stephenson had 18 — 13 of the team’s 26 in the fourth quarter — as Indiana held off a late Toronto rally and won its fifth consecutive game, defeating the Raptors 107-104 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Darren Collison added 17 points and eight assists for Indiana, Domantas Sabanis scored 13 points and Thaddeus Young had 12 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists and four steals as the Pacers had six double-figure scorers.
“I feel like everybody on this team has something to prove, and we just want to win,” Stephenson said of Indiana’s knack for sharing the wealth. “We’re playing together, nobody is selfish, we’re making the right plays and just playing team basketball. That is when the game will come easy to everybody.”
Oladipo left the game briefly in the fourth quarter after bumping knees with Kyle Lowry but said he is fine.
“I’m good,” Oladipo said. “This was a great win for our team, even though I couldn’t go late. There was a lot of other guys who stepped up and played great for us tonight. It’s always good to get a win. I’m just glad we got this one.”
The Pacers (11-8) outscored the Raptors (11-7) 57-44 during the final two quarters. It is Indiana’s second consecutive regular-season victory against Toronto after dropping four in a row and nine of 10.
Lowry led Toronto with 24 points, and Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet each scored 16 as the Raptors lost their second in a row after a four-game winning streak.
Indiana was 20 of 27 from the line and Toronto was 15 of 20.
Two Myles Turner free throws with 5:13 remaining expanded the Indiana lead to 97-92. The Pacers’ lead swelled to 103-92 with 4:06 to go after a clutch shot from Stephenson, his second 3-pointer in an 11-0 run. Stephenson finished 7 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
Indiana coach Nate McMillan gave credit to Stephenson.
“He was making plays in the fourth quarter that I think broke Toronto’s runs,” McMillan said. “We put the ball in his hands, and he did a good job of shooting with confidence, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Raptors refused to go away, taking advantage of four late Indiana turnovers. A Powell dunk cut the Indiana lead to 106-104 with 31.8 seconds to play.
Indiana outscored Toronto 31-20 in the third quarter to retake the lead a 81-80. Oladipo had 11 in the quarter and Bogdanovic had eight.
Through three quarters, Lowry had 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey bemoaned the Raptors’ continued poor third-quarter play.
“It is the same thing,” Casey said. “The third quarter has been our Achilles heel, and it was again tonight. We have to figure out something to get started again. We played too well in the first half not to sustain it, and for whatever reason, we come out with that approach that the game is over, and we can’t do that.”
The Raptors trailed despite shooting 50 percent from the field through 36 minutes (30 of 60). Indiana was at 41.4 percent (29 of 70).
Lowry (17) and DeMar DeRozan (7) combined for 24 first-half points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
“We’ve got to come out to start the third quarter like we’re down 10 points or something,” DeRozan said. “We should come in here and put up a make-believe score at halftime. We have to play with a chip on our shoulder, because it’s a critical part of the game.”
Toronto erased a 13-point, first-quarter deficit to lead 60-50 through 24 minutes, outscoring Indiana 35-21 during the second quarter.
Indiana got 14 first-half points from Collison, who was 6 of 8 from the field, but the rest of the Pacers were 14 of 41 (34.1 percent).
The Raptors shot 59.5 percent during the first half (22 of 37). Toronto outrebounded Indiana 24-18 during the first two quarters.
The Pacers built a 13-point, first-quarter lead before the Raptors battled back within 29-25 through 12 minutes.
Indiana got 12 first-period points from Collison, who was 5 of 5 from the field, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range. The rest of the Pacers were a collective 6 of 21.
NOTES: Toronto was without G/F C.J. Miles, the former Pacer whose wife gave birth on Thursday night ... The Raptors also were without G Delon Wright, who is battling a right shoulder injury. Wright is averaging 7.6 points and 2.4 rebounds. ... Indiana played without rookie C Ike Anigbogu, who has a sore throat. ... Indiana came in with a four-game winning streak ... Among those with more than 20 attempts, Indiana F Bogan Bogdanovic entered this game ranked fourth in NBA 3-point shooting percentage at 48.4 (44 of 91) ... Bogdanovic had 26 points and seven rebounds in Monday night’s 105-97 victory at Orlando during which he reached double figures for the 14th time in 18 games, all of which he has started. ... Beginning with Friday’s game against the Raptors, nine of Indiana’s next 11 games are in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.