I just finished watching a truly ugly, sloppy, substandard display of basketball at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors combined for 41 turnovers (25 for Indiana, 16 for Toronto) but the Pacers came out ahead because they dominated on the boards with a 56-38 advantage, because they have players who can make three-pointers (Indiana went 8-for-20 while Toronto went 1-for-6) and because they have a true lane intimidator in Roy Hibbert — definitely the star of this game with 24 points, 11 rebounds and a couple of blocks.
It was the same story it’s been for the past few weeks for the Raptors. They missed open shots, they got outworked for loose balls, and they had very little cohesion on the court — a lot of the time, they play together like a group of guys who showed up for a pickup game and have never played together before. Also, when your supposed top two offensive players (Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan) shoot 6-for-30 combined, it’s a pretty safe bet this isn’t your night.
While Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel surely wasn’t thrilled to see his team tie their season-high in turnovers in his debut, he had to be happy with the performance by Hibbert — who looked like the dangerous Big Roy from November rather than the shell of a player he’s appeared to be throughout most of January. One game playing for Vogel doesn’t prove that fired coach Jim O’Brien was Hibbert’s problem, but if this is what it took for him to get his confidence back, so be it.
This loss makes it 12 in a row for the Raptors and I don’t see a recent end in sight unless something drastic happens. That could be a trade, a new coach, or maybe even a heart transplant for Andrea Bargnani. But this is a thoroughly discouraged and disillusioned group of young men I saw in black and red tonight.
Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson — 38 Min, 18 Pts, 8-14 FG, 2-5 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk
Pacers Player of the Game: Roy Hibbert — 30 Min, 24 Pts, 9-19 FG, 6-9 FT, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk
Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani — 33 Min, 12 Pts, 3-15 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 6-8 FT, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 0 Stl, 1 Blk