INDIANAPOLIS – With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan driving from the backcourt, the Toronto Raptors are on track for the best season in franchise history.
Against Indiana on Thursday night, the Raptors duo wore down the Pacers late and gave Toronto the clutch plays it needed to keep pace with Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland.
Both Lowry and DeRozan finished with 28 points and Bismack Biyombo set a franchise record with 25 rebounds in guiding the Raptors to a 101-94 win in overtime at Indiana after the Pacers appeared to be headed for yet another win against an Eastern Conference playoff team. Indiana was coming off a home win Wednesday over Boston.
“We understand that someone on our team is eventually going to get hot late in the game,” DeRozan said. “I started to hit some shots and then Kyle got going.”
Toronto’s All-Star guard combo did it when it mattered most.
DeRozan scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined, and it was his play during a 4-minute stretch in the middle minutes of the fourth that swung the game in Toronto’s favor. After Paul George gave the Pacers a 74-70 advantage with 6:35 left, DeRozan scored 10 of Toronto’s next 15 points. His fallback jumper on the right wing with 1:25 left gave Toronto an 85-84 lead.
Monta Ellis had a chance at the foul line to put Indiana ahead, but he missed his first free-throw attempt. He made the second, tying the game 85-85. DeRozan then had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but missed a fade-away jumper on the wing as time expired.
In overtime, Lowry did his part to help the Raptors improve to 26-7 since Jan. 1. He scored eight points in the extra period and his activity with the basketball and away from it disrupted the Pacers on the defensive end. That allowed Toronto to score 16 points in the extra 5 minutes.
The Raptors scored on eight of their 10 overtime possessions, including the final seven offensive chances it had.
“They attacked one-on-one,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of DeRozan and Lowry. “They had to go to attacking the rim, finding other people and trying to create off the dribble, which is very difficult against the Pacers. But they found a way.”
Lowry added four assists and eight rebounds, but he also committed eight turnovers. Biyombo added a career-high 16 points.
For Indiana, it’s yet another close defeat in a season that continues to produce nail-biting games on a regular basis. The Pacers are 1-7 in overtime games and they’ve played 16 games decided by one possession.
“They’re all the same, we don’t do enough,” George said of the number of close games the Pacers have played this year. “Especially coming down to the end (of the season), games that we need, must wins, and we don’t complete it.”
George led the Pacers with 18 points and nine rebounds. George Hill added 18 points and CJ Miles had 13 off the bench.
Spurs 118, Blazers 110
In San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each had 22 points as the Spurs beat Portland to secure the second-best home start to a season in league history.
The Spurs have won 34 straight at home to open the season and only trail the 37 wins by the Chicago Bulls during their historic 72-victory season in 1995-96.
Tony Parker had 18 points and a season-high 16 assists. San Antonio shot 52 percent while committing seven turnovers, which was one off its season low.
Wizards 99, 76ers 94
In Philadelphia, John Wall had 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season as the Wizards held on against the 76ers.
Hornets 109, Heat 106
In Miami, Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker each scored 21 points to help Charlotte overcome a 15-point first-half deficit and beat the Heat.
Bulls 118, Nets 102
In Chicago, Doug McDermott scored 25 points and Jimmy Butler added 22 as the Bulls downed Brooklyn.
Hawks 116, Nuggets 98
In Atlanta, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a season-high 21 points in his first start of the season and the surging Hawks beat the Nuggets.
Bucks 96, Grizzlies 86
In Milwaukee, Tyler Ennis scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bucks to a victory over short-handed Memphis.
Jazz 103, Suns 69
In Salt Lake City, Joe Ingles had a season-high 15 points and career-high six steals and Trey Lyles had 17 points as Utah beat Phoenix to close the playoff gap with 14 games remaining.