TORONTO - The Indiana Pacers were impressed with the battle Toronto gave them in a 90-85 win at the ACC on Wednesday night.
Head coach Frank Vogel was not surprised at the intensity that was present throughout — at times it appeared Tyler Hansbrough and Jamaal Magloire might start swinging at each other and David West had a perma-scowl affixed to his face all night.
“Noooo, season opener, it’s a good team, this building is always tough to play in,” Vogel said of the leave-it-all-on-the-floor mentality both sides flashed.
“We treat it like a playoff game quite frankly. We have to come into these buildings on the road and treat them like playoff games and our guys treated it (like one).”
Indiana snapped a five-game losing skid in Toronto.
Vogel believes the Raptors are better than the sum of their parts.
“That team is better than they look on paper — they’re very well-coached, they had 35 assists last game. They move the basketball and they defend so they’re going to be a good team this year,” Vogel said.
“It’s a good win for us.”
Indiana centre Roy Hibbert said Toronto looks different than before, particularly up front.
“They’re a lot more physical and that’s the type of game we like,” Hibbert said.
We win ugly, that’s what we did … their bigs play a lot more physical than they have in the past.”
RUN THE FLOOR
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey wasn’t overwhelmed by the lack of fast break buckets by Toronto against Cleveland (0).
It took until late in the first against the Pacers before Toronto finally got a Jerryd Bayless conversion on the break, followed by a Bayless trip to the line off the run on the next play.
But largely because of the reluctance of Jose Calderon to take some chances after a couple of failed alley-oop attempts, the Raptors had only five fast break points at the half.
Calderon repeatedly pulled the ball back out instead of attacking the hoop.
Casey didn’t appear happy with Calderon’s reluctance to push the ball, if his waving arms were any indication.
Meanwhile, Bayless aggressively attacked the Pacers and helped the Raptors hang around.
The team finished with 10 points to Indiana’s nine on the break.
MANO A MANO
Andrea Bargnani had a pretty good battle going at times with West.
Bargnani blew by the former Hornet after a great head fake and threw one down early, but West later beat him with a fine fake of his own leading to a West hook.
Bargnani’s best play might have come in the second quarter. After getting his pocked picked down low, Bargnani stuck his hand out to retrieve an errant pass, threw up a flurry of fakes before putting in a tough layup.
Bargnani then gave Toronto the lead with a three.
But it was West who provided the dagger, a long jumper with nine seconds remaining, stretching Indiana’s lead to five following a well-run pick-and-pop with Darren Collison.
The Pacers are enjoying life with the impressive free agent and West likes where he landed after flirting with signing with the Celtics.
“I’m not going to back down if there is a play to be made. That’s a situation I want to thrive in,” West said of his shot and a good defensive stand on Bargnani that preceded it.
Casey likes the makeup of the Pacers, particularly new additions West and George Hill. Casey saw a lot of Hill, West and Collison when he was an assistant in Dallas.
Maybe too much.
“I remember him knocking down those corner threes (in the 2010 playoffs when Dallas lost in six to San Antonio),” Casey said.
“I see it in my sleep from two years ago.”
Casey said West gives Indiana another deadly scorer and an “element of toughness.”
According to Granger, people won’t be sleeping on the Pacers much longer.
Granger’s response was simple when told that Indiana’s name doesn’t come up often when contenders were discussed.
“Oh it will. It definitely fuels our fire because we have been overlooked for a while,” said Granger, who scored 21 points and added eight rebounds.
“We’re a lot better team now, we’re a lot deeper and we’re a lot more experienced.”
PASSING THE ROCK
Collison takes some grief for failing to compile enough assists. Collison did not register more than seven assists in a game until Jan. 11 last season ( a season-best 13) and had only 12 in one other contest.
But against Calderon and Bayless, Collison dropped 12 dimes, along with 10 points.
The point guard credited the presence of former Hornets teammate West for racking up his totals on Wednesday.