Pacers-Raptors rivalry heats up
By Mike Ganter, QMI Agency
|Toronto Raptors James Johnson battles for the ball with Indiana Pacers Danny Granger (L) and Lou Amundson (R) during the first half of Wednesday's game at the ACC. (REUTERS)
It may never rival the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics’ rivalry, but don’t be surprised if the Pacers-Raptors rivalry starts to grow into something nasty.
Dwane Casey pretty much called it before Wednesday’s game when he talked about the need for his team to scrap with the Pacers and give them the same they threw the Raptors way.
Casey stopped short of predicting a brawl, but at times that’s exactly what it looked like with the two main combatants being the Raptors’ Jamal Magloire and Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough.
During the first quarter it looked very much like the two might go at it but cooler heads prevailed.
While those two seemed to be the most worked up, it was tough to find anyone on the two rosters who wasn’t throwing his weight around.
DeMar DeRozan, more scorer than scrapper, enjoyed the physical nature of the game that had the sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre worked up.
“The crowd was definitely with us,” DeRozan said. “I don’t know what a playoff game feels like, but if it feels like that it is definitely going to be fun. We needed a good fight like that to show us that we need to keep working.”
At one point in the second quarter Hansbrough wound up prone on the court and Magloire came down rather heavily on the young Pacer with first his knees and then, for emphasis, the rest of his body.
The refs settled it by calling fouls on both players, Hansbrough having committed the initial foul on the play.
“It was more fun than anything,” DeRozan said of all the physicality in the game. “I like that. Both teams were going at it and both teams wanted to win. Those are the type of games I love.”
Even last season, with both teams among the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference things got a little nasty. Darren Collison got it started when in a January game in Indianapolis he unwisely chose to shoot and sink a three-pointer at the buzzzer in a game the Pacers had already locked up. Words were exchanged that night.
When the Pacers came to Toronto in March, the move had not been forgotten. This time it was the Pacers who were behind and the game had already been sealed by the Raptors when Leandro Barbosa rubbed it in a little with an unnecessary layup.
Danny Granger suggested after the game he would have put Barbosa on his back before letting him score in that situation. Asked after Wednesday night’s game if those wounds had healed over, Granger played it down.
“Leandro, he’s a friend of mine before all that happened. It’s over with. That was last year, it’s a new year.”
Granger may indeed feel that way, but based on Wednesday’s exchanges, the fight may just be getting started.