Raptors Close Out Nail-biter without Lowry, Siakam
The Toronto Raptors are now just two games away from a .500 record, as Nick Nurse picked up his first win in a head-to-head matchup with former assistant Nate Bjorkgren. The Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers as they held the league’s ninth-best offence to just 102 points on an early 1:00pm start.
The team showed greater urgency on closeouts at the three-point line, as the Raptors finished the Pacers late in the fourth to come away with a 107-102 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Raptors were missing both Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, who are dealing with injures. Lowry has been out of lineup for the Raptors’ last two games now as he deals with a toe infection. Siakam was ruled out as he deals with swelling in his left knee, keeping him from playing against the Pacers.
Stanley Johnson got the start for the Raptors at the four, and he had three points, six rebounds, and four assists in 31 minutes of action.
OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Fred VanVleet picked up the slack for Lowry and Siakam, as the trio combined for 71 of the Raptors points.
The Raptors struggled at the charity stripe, as they converted on just 14 of their 22 free throw attempts, but a couple of key defensive stands at the end of the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Raptors.
VanVleet had a clutch deflection on Malcolm Brogdon with 19.6 left to play, which ultimately sealed the deal for the Raptors. He finished with a 21 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Nick Nurse raved about VanVleet’s defensive play throughout the game, applauding his effort to force turnovers.
“He sure made a huge play there at the end…he came up with a couple of those throughout the game…it’s those little things that he does that makes him a special player,” said Nurse.
Anunoby in particular looked comfortable in a main scorers’ role, as he finished with a season-best 30 points on nine-for-16 shot attempts from the field. He also shot four-for-six from three and added eight rebounds and five steals on the contest.
Toronto keyed in on the Pacers’ main duo of Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, as the pair were uncharacteristically inefficient from the field. They shot just six-for-32 combined from the field.
Sabonis had a monster game on the glass, grabbing 19 rebounds, but had a tougher time scoring against the Raptor defence which constantly trapped and pressured him throughout the game. Sabonis finished with 10 points, and he shot just one-for-10 from the field for the game.
The Pacers will have another shot at the Raptors, as they complete the second game of this two-game series on Monday in Indiana.