The Toronto Raptors had all of the excuses in the world. The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, didn’t.
Jose Calderon scored with 4:05 left in the first quarter to give Toronto a 19-17 lead and the Raptors led the rest of the way, holding on to beat the Pacers 74-72 on Tuesday night to snap a four game skid.
DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and Calderon had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Toronto had a franchise-low five points in the fourth quarter.
”We were tired,” Calderon said. ”I think that’s why we started missing shots and making bad decisions. I think everybody started getting into a little bit of a rush because we were trying to win the game, but maybe the legs weren’t there anymore.”
The Raptors, on the back end of their third back-to-back of the season, lost to the Utah Jazz 140-133 on Monday and arrived in Indianapolis at 3 a.m. before playing the Pacers.
Toronto was also short-handed with injuries to Kyle Lowry (sprained right ankle), Landry Fields (right hand/wrist) and Alan Anderson (sprained left foot).
”We were exhausted,” DeRozan said. ”But it’s about gutting it out. We had to rely on something, and it wasn’t our offense tonight. It was all mental and heart.”
DeRozan and Calderon each had 10 points in the first half for the Raptors, who led 69-58 heading into the fourth and hit only one field goal the rest of the way, also a franchise low.
”We were doing a good job for like three quarters, three quarters and a half,” Calderon said. ”There’s always those few minutes, five, six minutes and the other teams make a huge run and just lose it.”
Things were different against the Pacers (3-5).
George Hill scored 18 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and Paul George had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead the Pacers, who have lost four of the last five.
Indiana went on a 9-0 run in the fourth and pulled to 74-72 with 1:02 left in the game. Neither team scored again.
”We got good looks at the end, but it was really frustrating that we couldn’t get the ball to go down,” Hill said. ”Tonight it seemed like we were lacking energy, not as individuals, but as a group.”
The Pacers missed five shots in the remaining 22 seconds with a chance to tie or take a lead.
”It was hard for us to put the ball in the hole,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”We’ve got multiple guys in shooting slumps right now. We’re getting a number of open looks at the rim and they’re not going down.”
The Pacers shot 32 percent against the Raptors and were 5 for 24 in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers continue to struggle without forward Danny Granger, who is expected to miss up to three months with a left patellar tendinitis.
When it was over, Calderon threw his hands up in the air as the Raptors finally captured their second win of the season.
”I was really happy to get the win,” Calderon said. ”It was crazy. We were hitting people, but the ball always went back to the white team and I was like, `this cannot be possible.”’
The Raptors went on a 15-4 run at the end of the first quarter to take a 29-21 lead.
The Pacers missed four shots and turned the ball over on an offensive foul by Roy Hibbert while DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani each hit two buckets to contribute eight points in the run.
That came after the Pacers jumped to a 9-2 lead at the start of the first quarter in what looked like a promising start. Lance Stephenson scored five points in the early spurt on a 3-pointer and a layup. David West scored and George hit two free throws.
The Pacers eventually a 13-4 lead before the Raptors went on a 10-0 run to regain the advantage.
Calderon hit a jumper, a technical free throw and a 3-pointer, and DeRozan scored back-to-back shots in the run that gave the Raptors their first lead of the game
And the Raptors never let up. While the Pacers were taking shots that hit the edge of the rim or that didn’t hit the rim at all, the Raptors maintained the lead.
It was by far not a half the Pacers were looking for, but a half the Raptors could use to bounce back from a 140-133 loss in three overtimes the night before.
The Raptors led 46-36 at halftime and things didn’t get any better for the Pacers in the second half.
Indiana missed four shots on the first three possessions of the second half and Dominic McGuire and Jonas Valanciunas scored to extend the Raptors’ lead to 50-36 before George hit a 3-pointer to make it 51-39.
Then West hit two free throws and Hill hit a shot to cut the Toronto lead to 51-43.
But it didn’t take long for the Raptors to take back the momentum.
Calderon and Bargnani hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 57-43.
DeRozan hit two free throws before the Pacers scored five consecutive points to pull to 59-50 with 4:20 left to go in the third quarter.
Hill scored a technical free throw and Stephenson and Hibbert each scored next to the basket.
But, again, the Raptors regained the momentum.
Amir Johnson was fouled with 4:20 left, made the first free throw and missed the second. Calderon grabbed the rebound and drove to the basket and was fouled and went to the free throw line to extend the lead to 64-52.
The Pacers committed turnovers on the next two trips down the floor and then Linas Kleiza scored on two free throws to make it 64-52 with 2:30 left in the third quarter.
NOTES: Pacers F Danny Granger remained out with left patellar tendinitis. … Toronto G Kyle Lowry (sprained right ankle) and F Landry Fields (right hand/wrist injury) didn’t travel with the Raptors and, instead, the two traveled to New York to see a specialist for another opinion on their injuries. … Raptors G Alan Anderson was out with a sprained left foot.