Toronto, ON- It’s amazing how far defense and rebounding can take you.
A Toronto Raptors team that usually depends on its scoring, beat the Indiana Pacers 106-94, thanks in large part to its work on the glass and on the defensive end.
“Our main emphasis was rebounding,” said Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey post-game. “To out-rebound a team like Indiana who’s very physical and a paint-oriented team…to beat them 52-39, my hat’s off to our guys because that’s what we’ve been preaching,” he said.
The Raptors shot poorly for three quarters (38%) and with the starters struggling to find their shooting rhythm, the bench was able to get hot in the final quarter and pull away from a struggling Pacers team.
Lou Williams led all scorers, displaying the shooting touch that has made Toronto fans fall in love with him. Going 9-18 from the field, and 5-7 from deep, Williams scored 26 points. Greivis Vasquez (10 points), James Johnson (13 points) and Patrick Patterson (11 points, eight rebounds) all helped to pick up the slack in the fourth quarter, and ensure a dominant finish.
“It’s one of our weapons we have…our bench,” said Patterson. “We feel we have one of the best benches in the league, and the sixth man of the year in Lou Williams.”
The Raptors needed the bench scoring with the starters struggling from the field. Terrence Ross shot 3-11, Jonas Valanciunas, though dominant on the glass and often outplaying all-star Roy Hibbert, only managed 3-12 from the field. With the bench playing well, coach Casey was able to limit Kyle Lowry (nine points, seven assists, 4-10 FG), the usual engine of the Raptors’ offense, to 26 minutes.
“It was huge to keep his (Lowry) usage down. Thank goodness Greivis and Lou did their job and were able to save Kyle some minutes,” said Casey.
Williams, Vasquez and Patterson all played more than 20 minutes, while Tyler Hansbrough and James Johnson also played 15+ minutes.
Earlier this season, Dwane Casey said that one day, his team would finally win a game with rebounding. Much has been made out of the Raptors lack of rebounding, highlighted by a few key offensive rebounds from Cleveland in the final moments of a Raptors loss on Dec. 9th.
On Friday, even before the bench ran up the score in the final frame, the Raptors were able to hold down the Pacers because of their work on the glass.
“Terrence established it early, grabbing a lot of rebounds, and JV played well on the boards,” said Kyle Lowry of the team’s emphasis on rebounding. “Everyone was really aggressive knowing how David West, Hibbert and Scola are,” he said.
Ross grabbed a season high seven rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas put up his third straight double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds; many of those points coming off second chance opportunities.
The struggling, and injury riddled (George Hill was out, while Paul George is still rehabbing from a long term injury) Pacers were out rebounded and stifled by the Raptors defense for much of the game. Allowing 94 points from Indiana on Friday, the Raptors were able to hold an opponent under 100 points for the first time in 10 games.
The Raptors (17-6) now begin an important five game stretch against teams under .500. That list includes: the New York Knicks (twice), Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons. Even without Derozan, these are games the Raptors can bank in the win column ahead of a tough schedule coming up in January.
Demar Derozan missed his seventh straight game with a groin injury, and is still considered week-to-week.
Bruno Caboclo was also inactive Friday night. In garbage time, we got a Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira sigthing. Bebe played just over two minutes, shooting 0-3 from the field.