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TORONTO - In one of the NBAs most unexpected role reversals, the Raptors find themselves sitting atop the East, looking down on

in Share With Other Members Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:52 pm
by jokergreen0220 • 480 Posts

TORONTO - In one of the NBAs most unexpected role reversals, the Raptors find themselves sitting atop the East, looking down on a paper-thin conference that includes the hard-luck Pacers, a 56-win team that has hit rock bottom in the absence of their best player. Cheap NHL Jerseys . For years, the Indiana Pacers had been a model for the Raptors and most of the NBAs rebuilding teams seeking sustainable success in a league that is generally dominated by superstar players and big basketball markets. Dwane Casey and former general manager Bryan Colangelo would point to the way the Pacers built up their roster, without a top pick or big money free agent import. They would point to Indianas rise to the top of the Eastern Conference - qualifying for the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, improving by at least five wins every year. Continuity and internal growth helped turn Frank Vogels club from a middling team to powerhouse in the East, but theyve fallen on hard times in the aftermath of a season-ending injury to Paul George, one of the NBAs elite two-way players. The Raptors share a similar affliction, also playing without their leading scorer, albeit less permanently. Granted, DeMar DeRozan is not at Georges level, nor are the Raptors as dependant on him as the Pacers are on their All-Star. But the biggest reason theyve been able to tread water in his absence - improving to 4-3 without him - was ultimately the difference in their latest win over wounded Indiana. One of our weapons that we have is our bench, said Patrick Patterson, a member of Torontos second unit, a group that poured in 64 points, fuelling the teams 106-94 victory Friday night. We feel like we have one of the best benches in the league. The Pacers have also been without starting point guard George Hill - out indefinitely with a knee injury. Meanwhile, 34-year-old David West still looks out of sync working his way back from an extended absence. The result has been a seven-game losing streak - their worst since 2009 - and an eight-point (per contest) swing from last year (scoring 3.2 points less, allowing 4.8 more). Toronto, on the other hand, is better suited for life without its top point producer. Unlike the Pacers, they have a second star in Kyle Lowry - hes taken his game to another level with his backcourt partner sidelined - in addition to a strong and diverse bench to pick up the slack. With their starters struggling - Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas combined to go 6-for-23 from the field - the Raptors reserves took over, led by the hot shooting of Lou Williams. Lou is a born scorer, Casey said of Williams, who had a game-high 26 points in 29 minutes. Hes done it in big games, hes done it in playoff situations. Thank goodness hes back healthy again. We have to make sure we get him good looks. Four reserves scored in double figures for the Raptors - James Johnson had 13 points, Patterson added 11 and Greivis Vasquez overcame a slow start to score 10. Tyler Hansbrough took just one shot but changed the game with his energy in a spirited 18 minutes off the pine. Together, they stretched an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter to a 19-point advantage, allowing Casey to rest Lowry - who logged just 26 minutes after exceeding 40 in each of his last three outings. We have pretty much the sixth man of the year in my opinion with Lou Williams, Patterson said. Then you have myself, Tyler, Greivis, JJ. We have so many guys, so many different pieces who can come off the bench and contribute game in and game out and it can be anybodys night and tonight it seemed like it was a total team effort from the starters to the second unit. Its good for teams to have a second group, to give the first group relief, Williams added. We have a lot of guys that can start on other teams and weve accepted the role of being backups and we take that in pride, we take that in pride that we know were going into games and going to change the pace of the game. I think thats a major plus. Without George, the Pacers already lacklustre offence has fallen even further. They scored 94 points on Friday becoming the first Raptors opponent to be held under the century mark over Torontos last 10 games. Well, its been a struggle, obviously, said Vogel. If you look at where our record is, we havent had that. Were trying to establish that. Were trying to work through the changes in bodies that we have out there and working guys back from injuries. Its obviously a different dynamic. Indiana simply doesnt have the offensive talent to make up for what theyve lost, but they still present a challenge on the defensive end and on the boards, where they rank second in the NBA. One of our main emphasis going in was to talk about rebounding, said Casey, whos team bested the Pacers on the boards, 52-39, including 16-6 on the offensive glass. And to out-rebound a team like Indiana, which is very physical and a paint-oriented team, my hats off to our guys. Overall, it was just a team effort keeping them off the glass, said Patterson, who contributed eight rebounds. We know theyre a great rebounding team and we know rebounding hasnt been our forte these past couple of games and its something we need to improve on and I think tonight was a step in the right direction. It seemed like everybody was on the glass. NHL Jerseys 2020 .com) - Avery Bradley scored 21 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets, 89-81. 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