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Toronto Sun

“It’s on me,” Casey said after Magloire, not surprisingly, missed both free throws taking away the Raps last hope of sending a game they fought hard into overtime. The 95-90 loss is surely one that will sting a while.

“I take the full blame for that,” Casey said. “I don’t think they were intentionally trying to foul but I should not have had (Magloire) handling the ball. He was the last big after (Amir Johnson) fouled out and I should have had it flip flopped. I should have had Ed Davis at the top (taking the inbounds) so it’s on me. Cat (Magloire’s nickname) has been a man. He has been big time, but that’s my mistake.”

For the season Magloire came into the game 1-of-7 from the free throw line. Davis had been good on eight of 11 coming in.

The intent was to get the ball in and get a quick two and then foul and take their chances that way. When West fouled Magloire on the catch and Magloire missed both freebies they never got the opportunity.

For the record, Magloire disagreed with his coach saying it was up to him, as a professional, to make those shots and he didn’t. Case closed.

Either could make a strong case, but as DeMar DeRozan pointed out it should never have got to that point anyway.

After a strong start, built mostly on DeRozan’s opening quarter 14 points that led to a much-improved 23 for the night from the Raptor wing who was in a bit of a funk, the Raps toyed with a lead that got up to as many as 17 before the old bugaboos started creeping in.

First it was the turnovers — 17 on this night which led to 20 Indiana points. But truth be told, and DeRozan was quick to point it out, had the Raptors converted on even a handful of their earlier free throws, Magloire’s misses never would have been a factor.

For the game, the Raps went to the free-throw line 32 times and missed a full dozen. That’s a 62.5% success rate compared ot the 84.2% success rate the Pacers had getting to the line 38 times and converted 32 of them.

Toronto Star

With Bargnani’s absence forcing a shuffle on the decks, confusion reigned at times on the offensive end. Casey was more than once reduced to one of his face-washing “Oh my GOODNESS gracious” looks on the sidelines.

Nevertheless, it was 65-65 to start the fourth. It was still tied with less than two minutes left, thanks in large part to a nine-point explosion by Leandro Barbosa, who also supplied a huge block on a Darren Collison breakaway.

Trailing by three with 15 seconds left and with Amir Johnson already fouled out, the ball was slipped in-bounds to the last Toronto big standing, Jamaal Magloire. He was instantly fouled. He missed the rim on his first free throw. He only missed the second. That was the game, as the 95-90 loss pushed Toronto to 4-8 on the year.

The late collapse was proof that there may be life without Bargnani, but it’s the sort of life lived on life support.

Bargnani left early in the third quarter on Wednesday against Sacramento with what’s being described as a strained left calf muscle.

“He’s disappointed. He had a good run going,” Casey said before the game. “He was putting up big numbers, not only offensively, but his numbers were off the chart defensively.”

According to Casey, Bargnani wasn’t sure when he’d injured himself during the game with the Kings. The final diagnosis is still pending and will be made by committee, with both team doctors and Bargnani’s own triage unit in Italy going over the MRI results.

Toronto Star

KEY MATCHUP

Calderon vs. Rose

Even hobbled by turf toe — and Rose will likely be a game-time decision — the current MVP is one of the most dangerous players in the league. It’ll take all Calderon has to keep him in check.

NEED TO KNOW

Richard Hamilton (groin) and C.J. Watson (elbow) are likely to be unavailable for the Bulls, who played in Boston on Friday night. . . . Raptors may change up their starting front-court in that absence of Andrea Bargnani. . . . Ex-Raptor Mike James signed a contract with the Bulls this week as insurance in case Rose can’t go. . . . Raptors are 12-17 all-time in Chicago.

Globe and Mail

It came down to the final few frantic moments where Amir Johnson gave the Raptors hope when he received a kind bounce off the iron for a basket that knotted the score at 90-90 with 32.7 seconds left.

Johnson was fouled by Roy Hibbert on the play but missed his free throw which would have given the Raptors the lead.

The Raptors only made 20 of their 32 free throw attempts in the game.

On their next possession, Indiana’s David West was fouled and he made the first of his two free throws to give the Pacers a one-point advantage.

Although West muffed his second try, Tyler Hansbrough came down with a critical offensive rebound for Indiana and was fouled and he made both free throws to increase Indiana’s lead to 93-90.

Toronto’s chances evaporated when Raptor centre Jamaal Magloire was sent to the line with 13.9 seconds left and he missed both his free throws, including an embarrassing air-ball on his initial attempt.

In Bargnani’s absence the Raptors were counting on DeMar DeRozan to come to life at the offensive end, where he had been a non-factor for Toronto the previous three games.

DeRozan was hot early, soaring for 14 points in the opening quarter where the Raptors took advantage of a surprisingly inept Indiana outfit that connected on just 28.6 per cent (6-of-21) of its shots.

DeRozan cooled off after that, finishing with a game-high 23 points.

Globe and Mail

With the score 93-90 for Indiana in the game’s dying moments, Toronto ran an inbounds play in the Pacers end and the last person who should have received the ball was Magloire, the big centre and notoriously poor free throw shooter.

But there was Magloire, who was open near the top of the left elbow and he accepted the inbounds pass from DeMar DeRozan before being immediately fouled by David West with 13.9 seconds left on the clock.

“We knew we could foul if it got late in the clock, but that was pretty early for him to catch that basketball,” West said. “I was just trying to make a play on the ball, be overly aggressive. I got a good slap on him but I was just trying to make a play on the ball.

“We didn’t expect him to have the ball in his hands at that moment.”

West’s move was brilliant considering Magloire, a former NBA all-star, is anything but a sure thing from the free throw line as attested by a career 62.2 per cent success rate shooting foul shots.

Magloire, Toronto raised and desperately wanting to come through in the clutch in front of his home town crowd, promptly served up an embarrassing air ball on his first attempt.

His second effort was a bit better, but it still missed and Toronto’s hopes of upending the Pacers without the services of leading scorer Andrea Bargnani in the lineup, also went awry.

National Post

Casey put Magloire in a position to catch the ball. Prior to that, he had hit just two of his nine free throws this season. Three of the seven misses had not made it to the rim. And then the worst-case scenario happened. The pass went to Magloire, and David West fouled him, semi-accidentally. Magloire’s first shot found just air, while the second one clanked off the iron.

“That’s on me,” Casey said, saying he should have had Magloire switch positions with Ed Davis, himself just a 57% free-throw shooter. “I take full blame for that.

“[Magloire] has been a man. That’s a rookie coach…well, not a rookie coach, but that’s my mistake.”

After a tough loss, it must be nice for a young team to feel supported by its coach. Magloire was not having any of it, though.

“I kind of disagree. I think I’ve been playing this game long enough. I think I let the team down,” Magloire said. “I can be accountable as a man and say I could’ve done a better job at the free-throw line. As a result, we didn’t win the game.”

Accountability is nice, sure, but all the talk about the free throws skirts the point: That is not where the Raptors lost this game.

Beyond Magloire, the Raptors still missed nine of their 28 free throws. The embarrassing misses were easy targets, but not explanation for the defeat on their own. With the score tied in the final minutes, the Raptors played great defence only to have Amir Johnson get too touchy on David West. And when West missed one of those free throws, they did not secure the rebound.

“Again, it goes back to us and the little things: boxing out, we missed 12 free throws, all of the little things we have to do execution-wise to not let the game get to that point,” Casey said.

Indy Cornrows

Indiana not only took advantage of the free throw line, finishing 32-38 on the night, but were aided by Toronto missing their final four from the charity stripe, as they stumbled at just 20-32. But that the game was even in position to be won by the Pacers sure seems like a small miracle given how the game began. The Raptors, not only short Andrea Bargnani, but Jerryd Bayless as well, made no excuses as they stormed out to an 11-2 lead, that ballooned to 13 later in the first and 16 points at the halfway point of the second quarter.

Toronto was shooting above 60%; Indiana, below 30%. The Pacers weren’t moving the ball much, if at all, on possessions, settling for the one on one play they should know hasn’t (and won’t) give them success at any point. But the Pacers, trailing 40-24, rattled off a 14-2 capped by Danny Granger to pull them within four. Then, with the half closing out, Granger followed a big block on Ed Davis by hovering over Davis, an act that warranted him a technical foul, which happened to be his second, tossing him from the game.

Despite being short one of their best pieces, the Pacers continued to fight back, riding Roy Hibbert’s post play early in the third quarter. As the third quarter progressed, Indiana struggled to get over the three point wall, eventually letting up a 9-2 Toronto run that pushed the Raptor lead to double figures. Indiana responded with a 9-1 run of their own, eventually Paul George getting the basket to tie the game up at 65 with the third quarter winding down.

The fourth quarter turned into a back and forth affair with neither team pulling ahead by more than two points. George Hill was huge at this point in the game, scoring 7 of his 22 in the first half of the quarter, helping to lead the Pacers to an always good road victory. It may have been ugly, but it looks pretty in the standings, as Indiana improves to 8-3 on the year.

Canada.com

DeMar DeRozan:

DeMar DeRozan got off to a sensational start in the first quarter, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Since then he went 3-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the free throw line.

DeRozan finished with a game-high 23 points, two rebounds and a steal in 40 minutes. He shot 8-of-15 from the floor and 7-of-11 from the free-throw line.

He had a true shooting percentage of 57.9 percent and generated 1.21 points per possession.

Leandro Barbosa:

This is the second straight 20-point performance for the Brazillian Blur, who has picked up his play the last couple of games. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds and a block in 25 minutes off the bench.

Barbosa shot 9-of-17 from the floor and had true shooting percentage of 54.6 percent. He generated a point per possession.

Diegs Sports World

If the Raptors do get to pick in the top 5 of the 2012 draft, they will most likely go for a small forward. With players such as Rasual Butler, Leinas Kleiza and Gary Forbes playing the 3 at moment, you can automatically see where the team if lacking a player with starting caliber. Let’s take a trip to June and pretend the Raptors land UNC’s Barnes. That leaves them with a starting five of: Calderon, DeRozan, Barnes, Bargnani, and Valanciunas. That could be a playoff team right there! The East is quite weak right now. Barnes is a good defensive playoff that would fit coach Casey’s orders. DeRozan would be in his fourth year, and he has already shown signs of being a good scorer. Bargnani is playing at an all-star level right now, even playing some defense. We had already seen him be a pretty good scoring, but the fact that he is playing average defense means a lot for someone like him. Casey would not even need Calderon and Jonas to score…the Spaniard can pass and control the game, and the Lithuanian will take over the dirty work. Those youtube videos in which he blocks players like Noah, Marc Gasol, Ibaka and Nowitzi are so promising they give Toronto fans shivers. They haven’t had a player who does that in quite some time. They expected it from Bosh and Bargs and it’s safe to say it never came.

Canada.com

When the amnesty provision was included in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, many thought Andrea Bargnani would be a prime candidate to be ‘amnestied’ because he was deemed overpaid.  Now at the age of 26, Bargnani looking like Dirk Nowitzki when throughout his career he has looked like a glorified sixth-man.

Most players start hitting the prime years of their careers around the age of 25-26 and it seems like Bargnani is no exception to that trend. He is hustling on the court and attempting to grab rebounds on a consistent basis, something the previous two coaching staffs couldn’t get him to do.

He also appears to be a lot more comfortable around his surroundings and that has led to career highs in points per game, rebounds per game and field goal percentage. His shooting percentage at the rim has increased, from 57.3 last season to 70.7 this season. His shooting percentage from 16-23 feet has also increased, from 44 percent last season to 49 percent this season.

Indy Star

Granger, who was coming off a 24-point performance against Atlanta two nights earlier, was never into the game.

He drew his first technical for arguing a no-call on a drive to the basket less than three minutes into the game.

That was just the start for Granger during his short night.

He was ejected when he picked up his second technical — for taunting — after staring down the Raptors’ Ed Davis after he had a highlight-reel rejection on Davis’ dunk attempt with 29.3 seconds left in the first half.

"I forgot I already had a tech," Granger said. "I usually don’t get techs. I was going to stare at him and try to get rowdy."

Granger had a blank expression on his face when he was given the technical, but there was no question his antics warranted the call.

His night ended with an ugly line: 1-of-8 from the field, one rebound, one turnover and two technicals in 18 minutes.

"Not a smart play," Vogel said. "When you already have a technical, that’s just not a smart play."

Dino Nation Blog

DeRozan after the hot start would end up with the same 23 points he scored to lead the Raptors in the previous loss to the Pacers. Barbosa continued to be effective off the bench with 20. Calderon also had a decent stat line. In the end the key stat is this game was at the line. Pacers went 32-38 from the charity stripe and the Raptors just 20-32. It was a solid performance from the Raptors on the night. They really deserved to win this game. But in the end they have no one to blame but themselves for why they didn’t. Things get no easier as they head to Chicago to take on the Bulls who are currently about to get a win over the Celtics. Bulls will have the best record in the NBA at 11-2 and are a perfect 4-0 at the United Center.

8 Points 9 Seconds

Larry Bird has continually said that he liked the roster he was able to build through the draft and by trading for Darren Collison. But he was afraid that the team would prove unable to reach the potential its young guys might have without some veterans added to the mix. Cheap, young talent is great, but inexperience will usually hit a wall before long.

That phenomenon was on full display tonight as the Pacers two new playoff-tested vets carried the team to victory in a game the team really had no business winning. Danny Granger foolishly got ejected in the first half and was playing terrible anyway. Roy Hibbert, who has been steady all year, was coughing up the ball all first half and picking up fouls. (He finished with 6 of each.)

But George Hill carried the team, coming off the bench in the 1st quarter for 9 quick points, and putting on another scoring display in the 3rd. David West did his work more quietly, but was again the go-to guy when Indiana needed some points most.  With 32 seconds left and the score knotted at 90, the Pacers inbounded and ran a pick-and-roll with West and Darren Collison. The Raptors were victimized by this exact play earlier this year when the Pacers beat them three days after Christmas.

DC found West in the mid-range on a pick-and-pop but Toronto didn’t let him get a clean look this time. Instead, he drew a foul and headed to the charity stripe, where made the first and missed the second. No matter. Paul George got a hand on the ball and Tyler Hansbrough gobbled it up, getting fouled and going to the line himself. He knocked both down. A hilarious Jamaal Magloire airball free-throw later, the Pacers were leaving Toronto with an improbably victory in which only two bench players (Hill and Hansbrough) had particularly good nights