The Air Canada Centre faithful let out a roar of approval when Jack scored on a free throw to put the Raptors ahead 100-92 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter. Crowds love offence, and cracking the 100-point mark means that ticket holders get free pizza.
But the team's continued lack of defence is an increasing source of frustration for Triano, whose club is firing on all cylinders offensively. Defensively, however, the Raptors are struggling and rank near the bottom of the NBA. The Raptors (7-8) took a 21-point lead at the half, but let the Pacers (5-7) climb to within five in the third quarter.
"We can't do that against the Bostons and the Clevelands or even the Milwaukees," Jack said.
Whether Calderon ever evolves into that player who wants the ball in his hands in crunch time and isn't afraid to take a game-winning shot, regardless of its outcomes, remains to be seen.
Calderon has shown flashes of being aggressive and looking to score before deferring and getting a teammate involved.
Last night, that resulted in a season-high and a team-high 21 points, and seven assists, in helping the Raptors defeat Ford and the Indiana Pacers 123-112.
Being selfish while running the show sounds odd.
Raptors forwards Marco Belinelli and Antoine Wright returned for last night's game after missing Sunday's game against the Orlando Magic with a sore left groin and sore left ankle respectively. Forward Reggie Evans has yet to play in the regular season because of a left midfoot sprain.
"Coach Alvin Williams always talks to me about staying even-keeled," Jack insisted. "My emotions not getting too up, not getting too down but staying right in the middle and being able to put myself and everyone else in a successful position."
This was a game Jack likely had circled since his first peek at the schedule, although he didn't admit it.
"I have every game circled on my calendar," Jack said. "That's not trying to be politically correct. I get excited for every single game and I think that's why I played 82 games in consecutive seasons. I love game day. I can't wait to play Charlotte."
But Rasho Nesterovic scored 10 in the opening two quarters, Jose Calderon made five of his first six shots and had 15 while Turkoglu was 4-for-5 and had 11 points.
Few of the shots were contested as the Raptors continually got open looks based on smart decisions.
"Everybody was sharing the ball and moving the ball and everybody was aggressive," said Calderon, who finished with a season-high 21 points. "It was nice and everyone was feeling comfortable out there and that's the way we have to be.
Who's hot? Charlotte's front-court of Nazr Mohammed and Boris Diaw combined to shoot 16-for-23 from the floor in Sunday's win over Indiana.
Who's not? Raymond Felton has not scored in double digits in the last five games, and is shooting just 36% from the field this season.
"He's different right now. He's lighter off of the floor," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "He's just playing with a lot of confidence. I think he's liking basketball; whereas at first I think it was a feeling-out process where he wasn't really sure where he fit on this team and what his role was going to be."
Playing the team he was with a year ago, Jack looked like a man who knew his place perfectly. Essentially, he played a perfect game against the Pacers.
His statistics for the night – 18 points, six assists, seven-for-seven shooting night with just one turnover – might not have done justice to his nearly 30 minutes on the floor.
Jarrett Jack drains all seveon of his shots, for 21 points, to lead Raptors past Pacers
So in that spirit, here’s the bad news. Antoine Wright, despite the fact that every time I watch him play I think “You know, he really is a pretty good defender,” is not, apparently. Raps are getting outscored with their only “lock-down” guard on the floor. Belinelli is one of the worst rebounding guards in the league. And you can’t even pin it all on Bargnani’s rebounding (averaging 9 per game, 11 per 40 minutes over the last four games).
Good news! That stretch is wretched in terms of offensive teams, which is the biggest problem for the Eastern Warriors. 5 of those seven listed above are bottom 10 in offensive efficiency, and the Celtics have been struggling in that area. So there’s a big opportunity to gain some ground if, you know, you can get your heads out of your collective ass.
A meeting with the Bobcats (4-9) might look like a good opportunity for the Raptors' defense to turn things around, considering Charlotte has scored 85.3 points per game – more than only winless New Jersey. But the Bobcats have shot 50.0 percent from the field or better in three of their last four games, and they recorded a season-high point total in their last outing, a 104-88 rout of Indiana on Sunday.
"I felt extra energized," Jack said. "That might have something to do with me playing against my old team, but I felt like I was in a good rhythm from the moment I was warming up with Coach Alvin Williams," he continued. "I just came out firing, man. I just have to thank my teammates they found me on a lot of my open shots and I was able to knock them down."
In addition to the strong game from Jack, Jose Calderon led the team with 21 points and seven assists as Toronto went with the Jack and Calderon pair on the floor down the stretch.
Jack thought there was a chance he would be with the Pacers this season after his exit interview at the end of last season.
"They told me I was their No. 1 priority going into the offseason as far as signing people," Jack said. "They wanted to do everything in their power to make it happen."
The Pacers made it no secret that they wanted to re-sign Jack, but they would only go so far.
And $20 million was too much for their liking.
"We played with no force. We did nothing with any deal of defensive intensity, so they had their way," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We came out and played with defensive intensity in the third quarter, but you can't bring it 25 percent of the game."
The Pacers have shown in their past two games — both losses — that they have a lot of work to do defensively. Charlotte and Toronto combined to shoot 53 percent against the Pacers.
They have allowed at least 104 points in each game of their current four-game losing skid. Toronto's 123 are the most Indiana has allowed this season.
"It's definitely an obstacle for our team," point guard Earl Watson said. "We have to lose ourselves and sacrifice defensively. That means a total focus on just energy and good communication in order to get past this point."
In this case, it seems especially clear that the same things holding back Toronto's defense are responsible for the success of the offense. The Raptors have all the tools for success scoring the basketball, boasting shooters at virtually every position (the worst in the starting lineup might actually be the shooting guard, rookie DeMar DeRozan), a post-up threat in Chris Bosh, good passers in point guard Jose Calderon and small forward Hedo Turkoglu and the ability to run one of the league's most dangerous pick-and-rolls with either Calderon and Turkoglu on the ball, Bosh rolling and Andrea Bargnani spacing the floor.
Calderon appeared to injure his right leg late in the third and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench before returning midway through the fourth.
Toronto's Marco Belinelli (left groin) and Antoine Wright (left ankle) returned after sitting out Sunday's home loss to Orlando. Wright had missed four of the past five games.
Jose Calderon led the Raptors with 21 points on 8-of-11, effectively getting to the hoop early and knocking down a handful of jumpers in what was probably his strongest game of the year. Jarrett Jack continued his recent string of solid play, going 7-of-7 and finishing with 18 points and six assists in 30 minutes off the bench against his former mates.
For the third time in four games, the Pacers lost to a team that entered the game struggling. A little more than a week ago, they lost to the Knicks, who entered the game on a six-game losing streak, and this past Sunday, they lost to Charlotte, which entered having lost seven consecutive games.
For the Raptors, the victory over Indiana was their second in six games.
THE FAN presents game highlights (courtesy Paul Jones) and a recap (courtesy Eric Smith) of Toronto's 123-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers
Last season, the Toronto Raptors had a choice between Calderon and T.J. Ford at the point. Ford was a selfish player, unable to come off the bench without feeling slighted while putting up lesser numbers than his teammate. Ford had 16 points last night but was ineffective against both Calderon and Jack when it counted, putting more pressure on Danny Granger to step up. Granger did his part, scoring a game high 36 points while fetching 9 boards, but it just wasn’t enough.
“They shot 55 percent tonight,” Granger said, also holding a copy of the box score. “I don’t even know what to say. We emphasized what we wanted to do. Sometimes we do it and sometimes we don’t and we didn’t do it tonight.”
Although the Raps pulled out the win, their defense did fall off in the second half allowing 39 points to the Pacers in the third quarter. DeRozan proved to a be a defensive liability in the second half as Granger got hot, and Triano quickly gave the rookie the hook and replaced him with the defensive-minded Antoine Wright. It was the Raptors second win where they let the opponent score over 100 pts.
Bosh seemed happy with the win and happy that his team played well around him. There have been some nights where there have been big efforts from him and not much help to be found. Despite the offensive explosion the team remains focused on the defense. When I asked Chris if he felt the offense had been over looked at how well it had been and the fact they can score with anyone was being overlooked he had this to say.
Rasho is a baller. I love what he brings. You know you’re not going to get 10 points and 5 boards in a half from him all the time, but he is a consummate pro. He knows where to be on the floor. From a point guard’s perspective, this must be a real treat for the guys running the Raps flow. Rasho will find a seam, set a good pick, or box out to get us some second chances. I thought Rasho deserved a shout out, since who knows the next time he will get this much burn on the court.
At half the Raps were shooting a ridiculous 64% from the field. This wasn’t due to lights out triple shooting or lucky bounces – this was due to working in the movement of the offense, not forcing anything, and letting the game come to them. They were making it look easy. Two quarters in the books with a Raptors lead of 74-53 over the Pacers: 24 minutes to go for complete game.
The only thing preventing this game from becoming a complete Pacers’ embarrassment was that Chris Bosh shot 5-19 from the field and 6-10 from the charity stripe. And Bosh’s poor shooting had nothing to do with the Pacers defense.
After getting up 74-53 in the first half, the Raptors coasted their way home for the victory.
Even the 39 points the Pacers put up in the third quarter didn’t seem to provide them with any confidence that a win was possible for them on this night. But it did at least make the game a little more interesting to watch.
Speaking of offense, you know what was nice to see? The Raptors put up 74 points in the first half (unreal) and Chris Bosh has just 6 of those points (unreal). That’s a credit to a very deep bench. Kudos to Bryan Colangelo and the team he built. They’re starting to resemble the Phoenix suns of yesteryear. If this team is able to become a decent defensive team we could be in for a good year.
We should also mention that Andrea Bargnani also had a nice fourth quarter. He went all Dirk-like, in nailing a series of mid-range jumpers (3 in a row at one point) after Indiana had closed to within 7 points to maintain a double-digit Raptor lead after the team’s usual lax second half defensive effort.
The Pacer comeback was paced by some tough, energetic D on Bosh and Turkoglu and a series of second chance opportunities thanks to some good work on the offensive glass.
- A blowout without a blowout feel
- Video: Leaving your man open