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Raptors bounce back to beat Pacers in Game 2

LORI EWING, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 19th, 2016

Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry (7) and Cory Joseph (6) high-five after Lowry was fouled during second half of game two, round one NBA basketball playoff action against the Indiana Pacers at the Air Canada Centre, in Toronto on Monday, April 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Jonas Valanciunas scored 23 points and hauled down 15 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors bounced back to beat the Indiana Pacers 98-87 on Monday, evening their post-season series at one game apiece.

Kyle Lowry had 18 points and nine assists, while Cory Joseph finished with 16 points, Patrick Patterson chipped in with 14, and DeMar DeRozan had 10.

Paul George led the Pacers with 28 points.

The victory was a massive sigh of relief for Raptors fans after a horrible Game 1 that had Toronto looking nothing like the record-setting team it had been in the regular season. That ugly 100-90 loss conjured memories of last season’s four-game post-season sweep by the Washington Wizards.

The big question Monday was: how would the Raptors respond?

They answered with an emphatic victory that saw them cough up an early 18-point lead, but battle back with a terrific fourth quarter.

Leading 74-66 to start the fourth, they found another gear, and when Lowry threaded a gorgeous pass to Joseph under the basket, the bucket put the Raptors up by 15 points and sent the Air Canada Centre crowd into fits of delirium.

A pair of free throws from Lowry with 4:19 to play put the Raptors up by 19 points, and they cruised to a well-earned victory.

Lowry, who had a rough Game 1, was back at his scrappy best, diving for loose balls, and while he shot just 4-for-13 on the night, his passing and defensive effort more than made up for his lousy aim.

The Raptors won virtually without their leading scorer as DeRozan was MIA once again. The two-time all-star shot just 5-for-18, and looked completely out of sorts most of the night, hanging his head each time he trudged to the bench.

The Raptors shot a decent 44 per cent on the night, after hitting just 38 per cent of their shots on Saturday. They protected the ball better, cutting their turnovers down from 20 to 13.

The noisy sold-out Air Canada Centre crowd – including Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban – was a sea of purple from a T-shirt giveaway, while once again, Maple Leaf Square outside the arena was jam-packed with fans watching the game on the giant screen.

The series now moves to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday.

For the second straight game, Valanciunas set the tone, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a first quarter that saw Toronto go up by 14. The Raptors took a 27-16 lead into the second.

Terrence Ross drilled back-to-back threes to put Toronto up by 18, but George exploded for 10 points in two minutes as the Pacers battled back, and the Raptors led just 53-48 at halftime.


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