The third quarter has been the Toronto Raptors nemesis all season. They’ve outscored opponents in the first, second, and fourth quarters this season, but opponents have outscored the Raptors by 36 points in third quarters this season.
It’s not the kind of statistic you’d expect from a team with the reigning coach of the year. It’s as if whatever is said at halftime sends the Raptors out of sorts. But not on Monday against the Indiana Pacers. After watching the Pacers run up and down the court scoring at will in the first half, the Raptors adapted in the second half, repeatedly stymying Indiana with their pesky zone defence. Had they gone to it a little earlier, it might have been enough, but Toronto’s first-half woes cost them in a 129-114 loss to the Pacers on Monday night.
Toronto was once again forced to make do without Pascal Siakam who missed his second straight game with a left knee injury. They did, however, get Kyle Lowry back after two games sidelined with a toe injury. It wasn’t a remarkable Lowry performance by any means, his 12 points inched him ever closer to 10,000 point mark as a Raptor, falling just two points shy of the milestone.
“It was a pretty late decision for him to play,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Lowry’s injury. “He wanted to get all the way through his workout. I think it’s probably not 100%, but I think he probably wouldn’t use that as an excuse.”
After defending so well the past two games, Toronto couldn’t seem to get stops in the first half. It wasn’t necessarily bad defence as much as it was a combination of red-hot shooting from the Pacers and bad shot selection from Toronto. Repeatedly the Raptors missed shots early in the shot clock leading to fast break points at the other end.
“There’s always that fine line between being attack-minded and being too quick,” Nurse said. “I think there was a three-possession stretch in the first half were just, three, two quick ones in a row. Like if you take one quick one you should know that for the next few possessions that we’ve got to get it around and get a couple paint touches before it goes up and there was a bad string of them there. “
With the Raptors missing, the Pacers revved up the pace and took advantage of some tired legs, shooting nearly 60% from the floor and 61.5% from behind the arc before the break.
The Raptors adjusted out of the break, throwing their zone defence at the Pacers and cutting Indiana’s lead back down to just one.
Once the fourth quarter rolled around, though, the Raptors began to fade and some questionable foul calls favoring the Pacers certainly didn’t help.
“They shot a million [free throws],” Nurse said. “They called the foul every time they drove in the second half.”
By the time the final whistle blew, Lowry had been ejected and the Raptors had received three technical fouls.
Norman Powell Continues Hot Streak As Starter
With Siakam out, the Raptors turned to Norman Powell to start for the second straight night. While it wasn’t the most efficient night from Powell, he stepped into the offensive void, scoring a team-high 24 points to go with six rebounds and six assists.
“He’s really getting in the paint a lot, and that’s good and I thought he made a little better reads tonight,” Nurse said of Powell. “When he turned the corner and would see Turner coming he knew it was time to get off it, if he didn’t see him coming he was going to the front of the rim, he did a good job tonight.”
OG Anunoby Leaves With Facial Injury
OG Anunoby took an elbow to the face in the fourth quarter and was forced to exit the game. It didn’t seem to be too serious, but he walked to the locker room to get tested for a concussion.
He returned late in the fourth quarter after clearing concussion protocols, according to the TV broadcast.
Pascal Siakam Getting Knee Checked
Siakam will get his knee looked at when the team returns to Tampa on Tuesday, Nurse said.
Up Next: Milwaukee Bucks
The Raptors will have another tough test on Wednesday when they return home to Tampa to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks