TORONTO – Kyle Lowry bodied up on Paul George and looked eight inches up midway through the fourth quarter.
One poke. George recovers. Second poke, out of bounds. Fans go wild appreciating the effort.
In that moment the Raptors showed a spark unseen in a tough opener to top Indiana 98 to 87, ending a post-season losing streak of seven games dating back to 2014.
“Lowry was playing with force going downhill,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey following the game. “Four for thirteen shooting isn’t a beautiful line but it doesn’t show the grit, the toughness, and when he got switched on to Paul George we didn’t double team him.”
Lowry finished with 18 points including 10-for-10 from the free-throw line and an overall effort that belied his 4-for-13 shooting night. DeMar DeRozan also struggled with 10 points on 5-for-18 shooting and sat the fourth quarter.
“I’m going out there battling and nobody going to take that away from me,” said Valanciunas. “We’ve all got to step up, it’s not an individual sport. Some nights are tough for Kyle some tough for DeMar tough for me, everybody has tough times so we’ve got to pull for each other.”
The big star for Toronto was Valanciunas who scored 23 and grabbed 15 rebounds including five on the offensive end, fighting off the Pacers big men down low. Toronto has a 32-15 edge on the offensive glass so far this series.
“We’ve got to do a better job of helping,” Pacers star Paul George said post-game. “Valanciunas is a big guy and he does a great job offensively of keeping plays alive and creating extra possessions.”
George himself continued to excel in the playoffs with a game-high 28 points, following up his 33-point Game 1 performance. The Raptors held him to 16.3 points on 31% shooting during the regular season.
“You’re not gonna stop PG,” Lowry said after the game. “He’s playing phenomenal we just have to make it a little more difficult for him to get to his spots. We threw bodies at him tonight and we’ve just got to communicate.”
Monta Ellis added 15 for Indiana but no other players finished in double figures.
The Raptors got help from their bench unit with Cory Joseph who added 16 on an efficient six-for-eight line with three assists and Patrick Patterson scored 14 off the bench.
Toronto started strong with a 27-16 first quarter including 18-2 points in the paint, and finished strong with a 24 to 21 fourth quarter.
Terrence Ross will be questionable for Game 3 on Thursday night in Indiana. After undergoing concussion protocol at halftime he was shut down as a precaution.
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