Raps offence shuts down Pacers

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Jarrett Jack hung around the Air Canada Centre practice gym on Monday, long after most of his teammates had gone, taking shot after shot after shot.

What do they say about practice making perfect?

Jack was just that from the floor Tuesday night, shooting 7-for-7 from the field, to score a season-high 18 points while adding six assists off the bench as the Raptors’ vaunted offence continued to roll in a 123-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the ACC.

Fellow point guard Jose Calderon also had a big game, scoring 21 with seven assists.

Obviously Jack is becoming increasingly comfortable backing up Calderon. The former Pacer, who signed as a free agent with the Raptors in the off-season, has played three strong games in a row. Against Orlando on Sunday, the first-year Raptor matched his career-high with 11 assists. In Friday’s win over the Miami Heat, Jack recorded a then season-high 17 points.

“He’s different right now,” said head coach Jay Triano. “He’s lighter off the floor. He’s just playing with a lot of confidence, and I think he’s liking basketball, where is at first, there was a feeling-out process where he wasn’t really sure where he fit on this team and what his role was going to be.”

Jack said that he was pressing too much early in the season, trying to impress his new employer and the Toronto fans, but has heeded the coaching staff’s advice of late to just play within himself. And when he’s on his game, he and Calderon give the Raptors a lethal 1-2 combination at the point. Tuesday, they combined for 39 points and 13 assists.

“I felt extra energized, that might have had something to do with me playing against my old team,” said Jack. “But I have every game circled on my calender, and that’s just not being politically correct. I get excited for every single game. And I think that’s the reason why I’ve played 82 games in consecutive seasons. I love game day. (Tonight) I can’t wait to play Charlotte, I can’t want to play Boston (on Friday).”

The Air Canada Centre faithful let out a roar of approval when Jack scored on a free throw to put the Raptors ahead 100-92 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter. Crowds love offence, and cracking the 100 point mark means that ticket holders got free pizza.

But the team’s continued lack of defence is an increasing source of frustration for Triano, whose club is firing on all cylinders offensively.

Defensively, however, the Raptors are struggling and rank near the bottom of the NBA. The Raptors (7-8) took a 21 point lead at the half, but let the Pacers (5-7) climb to within five in the third quarter.

“We can’t do that against the Bostons and the Clevelands or even the Milwaukees,” said Jack.

The Raptors’ 74 points in the first half were the most in the opening two quarters for Toronto since Dec.21, 1999.

All-star power forward Chris Bosh recorded his 12th double-double of the season, with 16 points and 12 rebounds, as well as four blocks. Indiana’s star forward Danny Granger had a game-high 36 points, with nine boards and five assists. Calderon’s former backcourt mate in Toronto, T.J. Ford, also had a solid game, with 16 points.


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