Tell you what: if the Pacers meet the Raptors in the playoffs this year, which they could, in the second round, it's gonna be a very hard fought series. The Pacers were ready tonight after getting their butts handed to them in Toronto last week, and actually led most of the way, but the Raptors, to their credit, kept it close enough to make Pacers fans sweat before succumbing 86-79.
It wasn't a pretty game for the Pacers, but they got the job done to improve to 28-6 for the season. Paul George struggled again (don't know what it is about these Raptors), putting up just 11, 2 and 2 with 5 fouls as DeMar DeRozan torched him for 28 and 6 assists. PG24 did get the last laugh though, playing excellent defense in forcing DeRozan to take a horrible three that missed badly and essentially iced the game for the Pacers.
Roy Hibbert was the star tonight with 22 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks, going a solid 12-13 from the charity stripe after clanking a couple of big ones against the Cavs a couple of nights ago. David West was quiet, scoring just 4 but grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds and also contributing 3 blocks. George Hill had 11 points, Lance Stephenson flirted with another triple-double with 13 points, 10 boards and 8 assists, while Danny Granger was solid off the bench with 13 points and 6 rebounds on 5-10 shooting. He pretty much picked up the slack for Paul George tonight and it's good to see him score in double figures yet again when he is admitted still no close to where he needs to be.
Luis Scola was big for the team with 8 points and 9 rebounds, and CJ Watson did what he had to do, as did Ian Mahinmi.
Tomorrow night will be a challenge for the Pacers, who have struggled in the second night of back-to-backs, as they head to Atlanta to face the Hawks, who recently lost Al Horford to a season-ending pec injury. Even without their top scorer and having lost their last 3 games, the Hawks will be a handful with Paul Milsap, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague. They are the top assist team in the NBA and the Pacers defense will have to be on their game to pull this one out.