The Indiana Pacers are back to .500 after a dominate fourth quarter to beat the Toronto Raptors by a final score of 118-104.
It was a tale of two halves for the Pacers who found themselves down by 13 at halftime but in the final frame they outscored the Raptors 36-14 and cruised to a victory.
The Pacers continue to have good scheduling luck as they finished up a 4-game home stand and on two days rest while the Raptors were playing their 5th game in 7 nights and without Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. It didn’t matter much in the first half though as the Raptors collection of large wings destroyed the Pacers on both ends in the second quarter to push to their 13-point halftime lead.
Don’t look now but the Pacers remain tied for 6th in the Eastern conference and their next four games are against the Hornets, Rockets, and Magic twice. Winning streak on the way?
1. Detective Tyrese Haliburton and the case of the many wing Raptors
Haliburton arrived at the scene prepared to investigate Toronto’s rare collection of these players called wings that have been so rare in Indiana these last few seasons. But in the first half, the detective’s probing resulted in little offense for himself as the Raptors length bothered into a 1 for 8 start with just two points . But while Scottie Barnes, Thad Young, and O.G. Anunoby stopped Haliburton from scoring himself, he picked apart their defense with his passing in both halves with 7 assists in the first and 8 in the second while only committing three turnovers.
His 15 assists were a season-high and the collection was full of highlight reel moments with finding a teammate waltzing through an open alley with a no-look pass.
He found an open Oshae Brissett for an alley oop, squeezed a pass into a closing window to Myles Turner for an easy dunk, and added another no look to Isaiah Jackson.
If someone was open, Haliburton didn’t miss him. Despite making just three of his 14 shot attempts, the Pacers outscored the Raptors by 26 points in his 39 minutes. In the second half, he did eventually get a pair of threes to fall, the second one right in front of the logo that put the Pacers up six with 3:20 remaining and the Raptors never got close to recovering their lost lead again. Case closed.
Carlisle took him out in the final minute to get him a deserved ovation from the crowd as he finished with 8 points, 15 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
This is how I imagined Haliburton’s evening went after he left the Fieldhouse in his trenchcoat and starred in a short noir film.
It wasn’t suppose to end up with me in an alleyway in the middle of the night but here we are. All because of a girl I couldn’t say no to. See, she was in trouble and had no where else to turn. What was I supposed to do? Send her out on her own?
Maybe that’s what I should have done after all. She could have found some other fool to take this case on. But instead, I’m stuck in this situation.
But I can shoot my way out of anything. Maybe now the girl can find some peace. Even if I never will.
2. Bennedict Mathurin also struggles to start but finds his rhythm in the second half
For a long while in this one, it looked as if Haliburton and backcourt partner Bennedict Mathurin were trying to honor their jersey numbers of 0 and 00 with their point totals. Haliburton didn’t score until 4:21 left in the first half and Mathurin didn’t score until he made a free throw with just 36 seconds remaining in the half.
After missing his first six shots, Mathurin made his last four. 3 of those makes were 3-pointers: a pair of his trademarked pull-ups, one 3-pointer wide open off the catch, and the fourth made shot coming inside on a well-timed cut to the basket. He finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Mathurin’s unwavering confidence continues to impress and he crashed the glass aggressively on both ends with 3 of his 8 rebounds coming on the offensive end. It was another rebounding battle win for the Pacers (51-43) who have turned a weakness from the last few seasons into a strength early.
Part 2 is below.
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