The Toronto Raptors dropped Game 1 at home to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, and it was largely because of the collective no-show of its All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. A second performance like that on Monday could have been disastrous.
But the Raptors avoided catastrophe and put away the Pacers 98-87 to snap a seven-game playoff losing streak and even up the series as it heads to Indianapolis later this week.
Lowry powered the Raptors in the fourth quarter after struggling from the floor early, finishing with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. After Saturday’s loss, Raptors coach Dwane Casey made a change to the starting lineup, inserting DeMarre Carroll at small forward in place of rookie Norm Powell. But Powell had 16 points off the bench as part of a unit with Lowry and Cory Joseph that helped put the game away.
It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Raptors — DeRozan was still largely ineffective, and it continues to be baffling why Casey has Luis Scola in the starting lineup — but after Saturday’s loss, a feeling of “not again” was undeniable in the wake of Toronto’s previous two first-round exits. At the very least, this game helped the Raptors avoid panic mode. They have to be encouraged by how much they looked like the energetic group that won 56 games this season.