The High 5 is where I give my reaction to the night’s games.
This includes a brief synopsis of the game, a look at the players who made a difference in the outcome, and some additional notes and unique details that caught my attention.
This was a quick turn around for Toronto. After grinding out an emotional win in Milwaukee, the Raptors returned home to face the well coached Indiana Pacers. Indiana has been overlooked and underestimated all year. They came into the night 1 game back of the Bucks for first in their division and within reach of the conference leaders.
As he has all season, Kawhi sat on the second night of a back to back. However, there was some good news on the injury front as Kyle Lowry made his long-anticipated return to the lineup.
Everything felt back to normal with Kyle on the floor. He was engaged, attentive on defense and vocal. His return opened up the floor for the Raptors shooters who went 10/18 from deep in the first half. Overall, the offense was humming for Toronto as they were able to take a 70-63 lead into the break.
The Pacers erased the Raptors lead to tie it up early in the second half prompting a quick Raptors timeout. Coach Nurse lit into his team who responded with a run of their own. Toronto continued their solid play and took a 12 point lead into the final quarter.
It was more of the same in the forth. Toronto got excellent contributions from Norman Powell who came alive in the second half. Norm always seems to play well against the Pacers. Coach Nurse rewarded the young guard with extended minutes to close out the game.
The Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 121 -105.
This is back to back impressive wins for the Raptors and their 30th of the season. They sent a message to the league that they still are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
The Thumb (Feel of the Game)
This was a “show me” game for the Raptors. They flew back to Toronto late after a tough win to face an Indiana team that was rested and waiting in Toronto. The Raptors played with tired legs and had every excuse to mail in their effort but, to their credit, they fought all night against the scrappy Pacers. Coach Nurse managed his bench well to reintegrate Lowry and ensure his team had enough energy for the win.
The Index (The Leader)
The Raptors got a boost from a fresh Kyle Lowry. After a long stint on the injured list, Kyle was back out there taking charges, fighting through screens, pitching the ball ahead to leaking players and working the game officials.
He stepped up in the absence of Kawhi, kept his teammates involved and worked the pick and roll game to perfection. Kyle finished with 12 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds to lead the Raptors. It may not be the most impressive line, but Lowry was essential for the Toronto win.
The Middle (The Enemy)
I was ready to give this credit to Victor Oladipo but the real star for the Pacers tonight was Bojan Bogdanovic. He played an astounding 37 minutes and contributed 21 points on 9/18 from the field with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
The Ring (The X factor)
Serge continued his recent hot play on both sides of the floor. He had another big block in the third quarter that energized the crowd and his teammates. On the offensive end he was lights out going 7/9 from the field for 18 points while adding 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Serge played like a star in another strong game.
The Pinky (The Unsung Hero)
Norman Powell continues to look good off the bench since his return from injury. He feels comfortable in his new role and has brought fantastic energy to the second unit. This was easily Norm’s best game of the season and as far as I can remember. He finished with 23 points on an impressive 10/12 from the field. If Norm can give this type of offensive production for the rest of the year, he will add another dangerous level to an already potent lineup.
Player of the Game
The player of the game tonight goes to Norman Powell who played incredible for the Raptors. Coach Nurse recognized this and has made him a feature of the second unit. Powell has taken all of CJ’s minutes and looks motivated and ready for a strong second half to the season.
- City Red – The Raptors wore their red “earned” jerseys tonight. At first, I liked the OVO black ones better, but this look is growing on me. It looks clean and crisp.
- Canadian Kids – Its always nice to see former Raptor and proud Canadian Corey Joseph playing at a high level. For the Raptors, Canadian Chris Boucher also got some run late in the game.
- Team contribution – 8 players scored in double digits for the Raptors.
- 3 is key – The Raptors shot 51% from deep tonight.
- Bench Production – Norm Powell, Delon Wright and Greg Monroe played inspired basketball for the Raptors in extended minutes off the bench.
The Raptors now get a few days off before facing the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.