TORONTO – The Indiana Pacers have turned into one of the NBA’s premier teams by playing a physical, swarming brand of basketball.
But the way Pacers guard George Hill saw it, his team got beat at its own game by the red-hot Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, Kyle Lowry had 13 points and a season-high 14 assists and the Raptors extended their season-best winning streak to four games, beating the Pacers 95-82.
“They played better than us tonight,” Hill said. “Normally we come out and have a tremendous third and fourth quarter but tonight, they hit first.
“We’re normally a team that hits first,” Hill said. “We’re a smash-mouth team. They came in and brought the pressure and turned us over more than we’re normally getting turned over. They initiated it.”
Terrence Ross scored 18 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors (15-15) snapped Indiana’s five-game winning streak and improved to .500 after 30 games for the first time since Jan. 6, 2010.
“It’s a great win,” Lowry said. “We’re executing our game plan and we’re locked in.”
The Raptors have won eight of 10 games since Dec. 13, when the majority of the players acquired from Sacramento in the Rudy Gay deal made their Toronto debuts.
“This is a team that’s getting better,” Indiana’s Paul George said of the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors. “They have a lot of confidence and they’re playing like it.”
DeRozan said the Raptors have been working to improve their toughness so they can play the kind of physical style that Indiana has perfected.
“We’re going to go out there and battle with the best of them,” DeRozan said. “We don’t care who is out there in front of us, we understand that they are going to throw a punch and we’re going to throw punches back.”
Roy Hibbert fouled out with 16 points and George had 12 for the Pacers, who recorded a season-worst 23 turnovers.
“We beat ourselves,” Hibbert said. “We turned the ball over, we weren’t doing our defensive assignments. They were the better team tonight, I can honestly say that.”
George was at fault for six of Indiana’s turnovers, hassled all night by aggressive Toronto defenders.
“I thought their energy was amazing,” George said. “Defensively, they played the style that we play. They just helped one another.”
T-Wolves 124, Pelicans 112
In Minneapolis, Nikola Pekovic had 22 points and seven rebounds and the Timberwolves led by as many as 30 points in cruising to the victory.
Kevin Love had 21 points and six rebounds and Ricky Rubio had 14 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals for the Timberwolves. Minnesota shot 55.7 percent, attempted 35 free throws and forced a season-high 18 turnovers from the Pelicans.
76ers 114, Nuggets 102
In Denver, Evan Turner scored 23 points and Thaddeus Young added 17, helping the 76ers beat the slumping Nuggets.
Clippers 112, Bobcats 85
In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin scored 13 of his 31 points in the final 7:05 and Jared Dudley got 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter.
Mavericks 87, Wizards 78
In Washington, Monta Ellis scored 23 points, Vince Carter had 13, and the Mavericks held the Wizards scoreless for more than 4 minutes late in the fourth quarter.