Pacers 93, Raptors 81

Paul George and the Indiana Pacers wanted payback for a pair of

home losses to Toronto. They got it Friday night against the

suddenly struggling Raptors.

George had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and David West added 15

points and 11 rebounds in Indiana’s 93-81 victory over Toronto.

”This is a huge win,” George said. ”This team beat us twice

at home and we came here trying to get some revenge. We really

wanted to win this one tonight.”

Roy Hibbert returned from a one-game suspension to score 18

points as the Central Division leaders won for the sixth time in

seven games. Hibbert sat out Thursday’s home loss to the Clippers

after a shoving match with David Lee in Tuesday’s victory over

Golden State.

”Clearly we’re a different team (with Hibbert),” Indiana coach

Frank Vogel said. ”He guards the rim as well as any big guy in the

NBA. He’s a big factor in why we’re the No. 1 defensive team in the

league and he gives us some offensive punch, too.”

Rudy Gay scored 21 points and Alan Anderson had 14 for the

Raptors, who have lost three straight and four of five.

Gay was bothered by back spasms but said the pain was nothing

serious.

”I tried to play through it because it’s not the time to sit

out,” he said.

George scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, nine of them on

3-pointers, including one with 9:56 left that put the Pacers up

72-53, their biggest lead of the game.

”That was when the game was decided, for sure,” Vogel

said.

This was the first time in four meetings between the teams this

season that the margin of victory was more than two points. The

Pacers won 90-88 at Toronto on opening night, Oct. 31, but had

since lost twice at home, 74-72 on Nov. 13, and 100-98 in overtime

on Feb. 8.

That loss, in which the Pacers coughed up a late lead, snapped a

15-game home winning streak and left Indiana focused on this return

encounter as a chance for revenge.

”We wanted to make sure we got that win tonight,” Hibbert

said. ”We felt we let one go the last time we played them.”

Making his fourth appearance of the season after a 55-game

absence caused by a left knee injury, Indiana’s Danny Granger

scored eight points in 10 minutes. He was rested in the second half

with the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.

With Chicago idle, Indiana increased its lead atop the Central

Division to 3 1/2 games. The Pacers host the Bulls on Sunday

night.

”This team is growing. We’re getting better,” Hibbert said.

”Danny is back and we’ve got guys who are going to step up and

lead.”

Toronto’s 12 assists were one more than its season low of 11 in

a Nov. 28 loss at Memphis.

”You’re not going to get a lot done with that against a good

offensive team,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The Raptors fell 6 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the race for

the final playoff berth in the East. They visit the Bucks on

Saturday.

”We have no choice but to come out tomorrow and play our best

basketball,” DeMar DeRozan said. ”We’ve had three tough games and

we’ve been struggling, so we have to come out and bounce

back.”

Indiana made just seven of 20 shots in the first period but

Toronto was even worse, hitting only three of 17 attempts. The

Raptors kept it close by making seven of eight at the free throw

line, but the Pacers led 17-13 after one thanks to six points from

Granger. Toronto’s 13 points in the first were a season low.

DeRozan had the most impressive basket of the second quarter, a

one-handed jam over Ian Mahinmi with 6 seconds left. DeRozan scored

six points in the second but the Pacers got six from Hibbert to

lead 39-34 at halftime.

Hibbert and West each scored eight points in the third as the

Pacers closed the quarter on an 11-4 run, taking a 64-51 lead into

the fourth.

NOTES: Indiana outrebounded Toronto 43-30. … The Raptors have

not won a season series against Indiana since 2007-08. … Toronto

went 7-5 in February, its first winning month since January 2010,

when it was 10-5. … Saturday’s game at Milwaukee is the first of

a four-game road trip for the Raptors. They’ll also visit Golden

State, Phoenix and the Lakers. … Actor Steve Schirripa attended

the game.