NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, January 1st (All times Eastern)
Indiana Pacers (25-5) at Toronto Raptors (14-15), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers proved they can still win when leading scorer Paul George has an off night.
George and the Pacers shoot for a sixth straight win Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre and are coming off Tuesday's 91-76 victory versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. George made 7-of-19 shots and sank only 2-of-11 from downtown, but managed to score a game-high 21 points. He has scored 20-plus points in six straight games.
Roy Hibbert netted 19 points to go along with five blocks, while George Hill and Danny Granger scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Pacers, who used a 26-6 run in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good and held the Cavs to just 10 points in the stanza.
"Today's game was a perfect example of being able to win a basketball game when you're shot isn't falling," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "We buckled down on defense. George (Hill) did a fantastic job on Kyrie Irving, that's not an easy thing to do. It was a really special defensive performance."
Speaking of defense, Hibbert leads the NBA with 83 blocks and has swatted five or more shots eight times this season.
The Central-leading Pacers, who will put their 10-4 road mark to the test Wednesday, outscored the Cavaliers 42-24 in the paint, including 24-10 in the second half.
Toronto leads the Atlantic Division despite having a record below .500 (14-15) and has won three in a row and seven of its last nine games.
In Tuesday's 85-79 triumph at Chicago, Jonas Valanciunas led four players in double figures with 15 points and Kyle Lowry added 13. DeMar DeRozan chipped in 11 points and Patrick Patterson scored 10 for Toronto, which shot 42 percent from the floor.
"The guys in the locker room believe in each other and what we can do." said Lowry.
The Raptors are 7-3 since trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento and hope to improve their 5-8 home record versus Indiana. After hosting the Pacers, the Raptors will hit the road again for three games against Washington, Miami and Indiana.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson left Tuesday's game with a sore right knee and is questionable Wednesday. Johnson is posting an average of 11.4 points per game.
Indiana defeated Toronto, 91-84, back on Nov. 8 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, as George finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Gay led all scorers in that one with 30 points for Toronto, which has lost six of eight and 10 of the last 14 meetings in this series.
The Pacers are unbeaten in four straight games north of the border.
01/01 10:19:04 ET