Instead of improving to 20-19, with their next game not until Friday in New York, the Raptors slipped to a game under .500. Their horrible shooting in the second half did them in. Toronto was just seven-of-34 from the field, clearly unable to stay focused after gorging itself on a flimsy Pacers defence. A group of players that were more sure of themselves probably wouldn’t have had much trouble keeping a stranglehold on the Pacers, who were 8-9 at home. Clanking 12 of 43 free throws off the rim overall didn’t help the Raptors either.
“We got comfortable with the lead, comfortable with the way we were playing,” Jarrett Jack said. “They kept scratching and clawing. Our defence could have picked up.”
After Rasho Nesterovic scored a basket not long before the half, Raptors teammate Hedo Turkoglu couldn't help himself. Turkoglu, sitting on the bench, yelled quite loudly, "Yeah, Rasho, they should've kept you here." Nesterovic left Indiana to sign with Toronto last July.
"I would like to see him have the ball a little bit more too," Triano, the Raptors coach, said. "We have to find a way to get him involved a little bit more maybe.
"I look at the fact we are one of the top scoring teams in the NBA," Triano said.
"Is it too early in the season to panic? Absolutely. Turk makes great plays. On (Sunday), he did not have a great game offensively and he still had nine assists. He took nine shots. That's 18 times he had the ball. "Does he want it more? Yes. Does everybody? Yes."
I’m talking about staying big when the Pacers went small, sticking with Bosh and Bargnani even when Indiana had Danny Granger at the four and three-point shooting Troy Murphy at the five.
It worked, too, for the most part.
They took advantage of the size difference on offence – it’s why Chris Bosh went to the line 16 times in the second half alone – and they did, all things considered, a good job of keeping Granger away from the rim and the paint.
Too many times, we might have seen a Toronto team sit one of its bigs in that situation, try to match the Pacers small lineup with a strange one of their own.
I’ve always thought it’s best to play to your strengths and last night they did.
Now, if they’d just won, it’d be an even more significant point.
"It was a very stupid loss," said Andrea Bargnani, the centre who pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds on a 4-for-14 shooting performance. "We went 20 points up and we lost the concentration. You cannot afford to do that."
They had their reasons. Jay Triano, the head coach, lauded his players for their effort – "I thought we fought hard" – in part because they were playing the second leg of a back-to-back set that began with Sunday afternoon's home loss to Boston. It was tricky for even a slightly more critical eye not to be a little harder on the losers.
The most unlikely contributor was Rasho Nesterovic. The veteran centre, who played last year with the Pacers, had logged just two minutes of playing time over the last nine games.
However, on a back-to-back, coach Jay Triano opted to use him to start the quarter. He looked as if that had been his routine all along, He gave the Raptors six points and three rebounds in just four minutes.
In all, the reserves chipped in with 30 of the Raptors' 65 points in the opening half as Toronto held a 13-point lead at the break.
Then, the Raptors hit a wall. Hard.
14 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 15
Toronto Raptors (19-19)
The Raptors have been a better team with Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup (9-7) than Jose Calderon (9-13). Jack, one of the league's foremost iron men, who has appeared in 206 straight games, is averaging 12.9 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 51.8 percent (71-for-137) as a starter.
Danny Granger scored 23 points and the Indiana Pacers overcame a 23-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors, 105-101
Hear from Danny Granger after the Pacers' win against the Raptors. Granger scored 23 points for Indiana.
Despite the tough loss against the Celtics on Sunday the Raps have been playing quite well as of late. Last night the Raps were in Indiana looking to keep the good times running.
Instead the good times came to a sudden halt.
5. Would Bosh sign a contract extension with the Lakers?
Only he knows, but there are plenty of reasons he might say yes. The Lakers have long been the most popular destination for elite players able to choose their teams. They're the most glamorous franchise in the league, among the best run and will be contending for championships in this and many future seasons. For a guy who's toiled his whole career on 0.500-or-worse Toronto squads, playing into June alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol has much to recommend it.
The only downside is that Bosh wouldn't get to be the alpha dog. With Pau around, he wouldn't even get to be the beta dog. How much he'd care about this, we can't begin to say.
Is it just me or are you tired of seeing the Raptors supposed backup Center Rasho Nesterovic having a DNP beside his name in the game log? Even when the Raptors are in a slump, Triano won't put Rasho out.
Now, I'm not saying this guy should be a starter. But, quite frankly there was only one other game that Rasho played in, where he wasn't a starter and only played because Bargnani had that ankle injury.
Within 2 minutes of Hibbert’s departure, the Raptor lead was 8, which is where it eventually ended the 1st period. It seemed that Pacers announcer Chris Denari had already deployed his “eerily similar to other starts” line at least three times by this point, while Quinn Buckner was in full excuse mode (”what happened there was … and you can’t help it … but he’ll get better at that as he gets more used to …”). The Raptors were shooting above 50%, the Pacers around 35% and things were not looking good. The 3-balls were flying, but they weren’t falling, except for off the hands of Murphy, who had 12 of the Pacers’ first 14 points by hitting 4 of his first 5 shots from behind the arc.
Denari was right — this was eerily similar to most of the last dozen broadcasts.
With four minutes left in the game, a fan behind me screamed, "DEEE-FENSE!!!"
The fan was imploring Danny Granger to continue digging in on Chris Bosh as the Toronto Raptors' All-Star forward took the ball in the post. Granger met Bosh's move with a hard foul, much to the delight of the fan, "Yeah! I don't even care that he fouled him."
Certainly, Granger's effort on Bosh was better than anything the Pacers showed in the first half, when they gave up too many easy buckets that had the Raptors up by as many as 23 points in the second quarter. After the game, Jim O'Brien revealed that the Paces only challenged 28% of Toronto's shots in the first half, which made it easy for Toronto to amass 65 points on 53% from the field. Obviously, that was a point of emphasis at halftime.
Given the number of teams that will have significant cap room this summer, it would be a risk to wait for Bosh to become a free agent. And that brings us back to a deal before the trade deadline.
So, the Bosh-for-Bynum idea is sounding a little less like a wild rumor
The merits of such a trade can be argued for both sides. Toronto would replace a lame duck player with a legit 7-foot center who has low-post skills and lots of upside. Bynum is also locked in for three more seasons. He has been struggling with limited touches while playing with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, but that wouldn’t be the situation in Toronto.
The Lakers would replace a low-post center with another player in the Gasol mold. However, that versatile lineup would be especially suited for Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, which thrives on interchangable parts. And if the 2008 Olympic team is any indication, Bosh would do much better than Bynum playing alongside two other legit stars.
"We turned the ball over too much in the second half," Triano said. "They were able to pick up the defensive intensity, shoot the three ball and gain the momentum. I thought the focus was great. We were fatigued. Maybe we didn't have the legs, but I thought we fought hard on a back to back."
Bosh finished the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and center Andrea Bargnani added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Calderon added 12 points for the Raptors, who were playing for the second time in as many nights.
"Everybody has those back to backs," Calderon said. "We didn't do anything different in the second half. They just hit some threes. That was the difference."
Said Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack, "We knew they were capable of making a comeback like that. The next time, we have to do a better job of locking down on them and the game is not over until the final buzzer goes off."
Toronto has been on a bit of a tear of late, having won 9 of their last 10 prior to yesterday's loss to the Celtics. They reeled off 5 in a row against slightly weaker opponents, and then upped the ante by offing San Antonio and Orlando on consecutive nights. At the start of the season, it looked as if the Raptors were in for another long, 30-win season, what with their record setting bad defense and locker room division. However, after an important closed door meeting back in early December, the team has apparently cleared whatever animosity was bogging them down and is starting to work as a cohesive unit. Since that meeting, they have gone from allowing 104 points a game to 94, and have found a temporary starting point guard in Jarrett Jack, who has proven to be not only a good defensive player, but a selfless, aggressive offensive force. They'll likely continue to be a middling playoff team, but anything to make Bosh want to stick past this year is a good thing.
Great Britain forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu has signed for CSKA Moscow, subject to a medical, following his release last week by the Toronto Raptors.
The well-travelled 26-year-old chose to return to Europe after failing to get decent playing time with two NBA teams this season, having begun the campaign with the Houston Rockets.
He is now due in Moscow on Thursday to complete his switch to the Russian giants, who have won seven league titles in a row and sit top of the Superleague standings once again.
"We battled back, battled back, battled back," Granger said with his feet in ice. "Those are the type of wins that can really start win streaks."
Granger showed his all-star form in the middle two quarters, when he scored 19 points to help chip away at Toronto's lead.
"He allows them the ability to stretch the floor, drive to the basket, just gives them another dimension in scoring," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "He can make threes, but he's not stuck in that three-point line."
Troy Murphy had 20 points and 16 rebounds, A.J. Price scored 16 points and Mike Dunleavy added 15 for the Pacers, who had lost two straight.
The Pacers gave up 53 percent shooting in the first half.
With that in mind, O'Brien moved starting center Roy Hibbert to the bench and started Mike Dunleavy with Granger, Earl Watson, Troy Murphy and Luther Head in the third quarter.
A move like that allows the Pacers to space the court and prevents defenses from sagging off the shooters.
"That's the type of lineup they had in mind when they put this team together," Dunleavy said. "We're not necessarily going to start that lineup, but it's pretty tough to guard.
"We have shooters all over the place; guys that can drive and (pass)."
Toronto scored 35 points in the second quarter and followed it up with 36 points in the SECOND HALF. The Raps ran out of gas as the Pacers had no problems getting back into the game in the third quarter. Danny Granger who finished with 23 points helped get his Pacers team back within two points in the third. Indiana did not stop fighting their way back into this as the Raps just went cold. It was just an ugly second half meltdown from the Raptors.
I thought about Bosh’s value in a sign-and-trade as being valuable to the Raptors, but the thing about that is that if an agreement can’t be reached with Chris’ new team, he could just go there on his own since he’ll be unrestricted.Sure, he’d get another year on his contract with a S&T, but there’s no guarantee that Chris’ desired destination would have pieces Toronto would want similar to how Ariza and Artest swapped teams this past summer, but a S&T wasn’t worked out.There’s some risk in waiting. Conversely, I think Houston is one of the few teams that would be willing to trade for Bosh without getting him to sign a contract extension first. Plus, Chris may not want to go to a team that has to gut itself of max money’s worth of contracts to get him. In addition, I don’t think Toronto would want to be financially choked like that in the long-term, especially without a franchise centerpiece in place. Then again, is Bosh a franchise centerpiece? He’s playing like it this year…kind of.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is Hedo Turkoglu. Just when we thought he was settling in to his role on this team he has a game like this. He couldn’t make a basket if his life depended on it and his 9 assists, while they look nice, were not the only thing his team needed from him. This guy got the big time contract this off-season and he has yet to show me he deserved it. His clutch stats have been very average and he never looks to have his head in the game while the plays are developing around him. He has stated over and over that he wants the ball in his hands more. With both the PG’s playing well he needs to start finding other ways to impact the game and it needs to start now!
THE FAN presents the highlights (and lowlights) courtesy Paul Jones, plus Eric Smith's recap of a 105-101 Pacers' victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Smith Says:- “Just when you think the Raptors may be turning the corner towards being a ‘winning team’, they come up with an effort like this. This was a terrible loss.”