Sport

Valanciunas has 23 points, Raptors beat Pacers 98-87

Valanciunas has 23 points, Raptors beat Pacers 98-87

IN accomplished that and then some, escaping Air Canada Centre with a 100-90 Game 1 win that extended Toronto's playoff losing streak to seven games.

"We've all got to step up", said Valančiūnas. DeRozan, who attempted no free throws after ranking No. 3 this season in attempts, was benched throughout the fourth quarter.

"There is no stopping PG", Lowry said. George and Ellis were essentially the offense for the Pacers - they were the only two double digit scorers for IN, which went an abysmal 4-for-20 from three. Their lone postseason victory in 2001, to be followed years later by the banishment of Vince Carter, hovers over the franchise like a poor man's Curse of the Bambino.

Despite Durant's forgettable night, the former MVP had an opportunity to win the game with a layup down the stretch.

Following Monday, the series moves to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday.

"(Valanciunas) has been huge, literally", George said. The game was set up the same way as it was in Game 1, for us to rally back and win this game, but we weren't tied in. We're not panicking. We understand we just played bad.

George is haunting the Raptors' two All-Stars. "But they finding a way to succeed ... by just making plays, maybe not making the buckets, but making plays". Over the last three halves he has converted 18 of 28 from the field for 55 points.

If the Raptors plan on salvaging the series, they're going to have to tighten things up on both ends of the floor.

Redskins sign TE Vernon Davis
Niles Paul is coming off a serious injury and, like Reed, is hampered by being a bit undersized for the position. Davis, 32, was acquired by the Broncos from the 49ers in November, but had a down season in 2015-16.


Lowry and DeRozan (5-for-18) didn't make shots again on Monday night, but Casey's decision to sit his struggling All-Star swingman for the entire fourth quarter in favor of a lineup that featured his All-Star point guard and four reserves paid dividends. It was as if the roles had been reversed - as if they were the underdogs who needed to manufacture points with high-end effort at the expense of skill.

While Valanciunas finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, Ian Mahinmi had a nightmare performance, finishing with five points (0-for-6 shooting) and just five rebounds. Lowry's ailing right elbow has limited him to 1-for-12 from the 3-point line, and yet he outwitted the Pacers for six free throws out there. "He's still going to get better". Is it going to lead to joy? There was Joseph playing pinpoint basketball, and Lowry playing heavy. They understood the way forward for their teammates - for Lowry and DeRozan especially - and yet, like all of the truths of the playoffs, it must be learned the hard way.

What's surprising is Casey's reluctance to "coach on the fly" mid-game. "That's what I do".

Cory Joseph, also acquired last off-season, was the Raptors' best player Saturday afternoon, showing the playoff poise he'd learned in numerous playoff runs with the San Antonio Spurs. You got to cheer for each other, pull for each other. It's all about fun. "I don't know if you can look at a guy's statline and tell some of the things he was contributing".

"The foul Kyle drew on me was a cheap foul", George said.

For sure it's fun. That's the beauty of the game. Such are the kinds of happy endings that DeRozan expects of himself. You didn't see the Pacers, who haven't sustained much of anything since that white-hot November, coming out and laying a massive egg on Toronto's home floor?

George was phenomenal yet again: 28 points, including some tough jumpers and an ability to get to the line nearly at will. The pressure is on us now. He can't just continue to keep forcing the issue and going in there and not getting the call and forcing that play. This team managed to reach a near-must-win crux-of-the-season game three days into the playoffs, which is a feat.


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