7:00 PM ET, January 1, 2014
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
TORONTO -- The Indiana Pacers have turned into one of the NBA's premier teams by playing a physical, swarming brand of basketball.
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While some observers expected the Raptors to tank this season, they've scored some big wins, including over the East's best Wednesday night, James Herbert writes. Dime
"They played better than us tonight," Hill said. "Normally we come out and have a tremendous third and fourth quarter, but tonight, they hit first.
"We're normally a team that hits first. We're a smashmouth team. They came in and brought the pressure and turned us over more than we're normally getting turned over. They initiated it."
Terrence Ross scored 18 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors (15-15) snapped Indiana's five-game winning streak and improved to .500 after 30 games for the first time since Jan. 6, 2010.
"It's a great win," Lowry said. "We're executing our game plan and we're locked in."
The Raptors have won eight of 10 games since Dec. 13, when the majority of the players acquired from Sacramento in the Rudy Gay deal made their Toronto debuts.
"This is a team that's getting better," Indiana's Paul George said of the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors. "They have a lot of confidence and they're playing like it."
DeRozan said the Raptors have been working to improve their toughness so they can play the kind of physical style that Indiana has perfected.
"We're going to go out there and battle with the best of them," DeRozan said. "We don't care who is out there in front of us, we understand that they are going to throw a punch and we're going to throw punches back."
Roy Hibbert fouled out with 16 points and George had 12 for the Pacers, who recorded a season-worst 23 turnovers.
"We beat ourselves," Hibbert said. "We turned the ball over, we weren't doing our defensive assignments. They were the better team tonight, I can honestly say that."
George was at fault for six of Indiana's turnovers, hassled all night by aggressive Toronto defenders.
"I thought their energy was amazing," George said. "Defensively, they played the style that we play. They just helped one another."
Danny Granger scored 11 points for Indiana, which had won nine of its previous 12 meetings with Toronto, including four straight north of the border.
Indiana committed 27 fouls to Toronto's 18 and the Raptors took advantage of the discrepancy, converting 20 of 23 free throws.
"Obviously we were too careless with our turnovers and too careless with our fouling," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Both of those areas were costly."
Hibbert picked up his fifth foul less than 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, and the Pacers couldn't hold a one-point lead without their big man. Greivis Vasquez hit a 3 on Toronto's next possession, giving the Raptors a 69-67 lead.
"Roy playing only 21 minutes was a big factor," a terse Vogel said. "He's a big part of what we do, the anchor of our defense and a low-post threat."
David West tied the score at 74-74 with a jump shot at 6:58, but Toronto answered with six straight points, four from DeRozan, to open an 80-74 lead at 5:23. West stopped the run by making one of two from the free throw line, but Lowry hit two free throws at the other end and, after Hibbert checked back in, DeRozan nailed a jumper to put Toronto up 84-75 with 4:22 left.
Hibbert fouled out with 3:25 left and Toronto scored five of the next seven points, two on a fast break layup by Lowry, to lead 91-79 with 2:00 remaining.
Ross and DeRozan both scored seven points in the first quarter while Lowry had five points and seven assists as the Raptors led 26-18 after one. Hibbert scored 10 of Indiana's points in the quarter.
Toronto led 32-23 with 7:55 left in the second quarter, but Granger scored seven points as the Pacers closed the half with a 21-8 run to take a 44-40 lead. The Raptors missed nine of 15 field goal attempts in the second.
Toronto battled back in the third, tying the score at 63 on a dunk by Tyler Hansbrough with 1:08 left. After a turnover by George, Raptors guard John Salmons hit a 3, capping a 9-0 run to end the quarter and putting Toronto up 66-63.
Lowry's career-high in assists is 18, set twice. ... Indiana's previous turnover mark was 21, set in a Dec. 10 win over Miami.
TORONTO, CANADA - January 1: Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against the Toronto Raptors on January...(Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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MVP: Terrence Ross came up huge Wednesday night. He scored 18 points on 12 shots and had three steals to boot, but his biggest contribution was his defense. Ross held George to 5-for-14 shooting from the field. George also turned it over six times.
Turning point: Once again, the Raptors ran away with this one in the fourth -- they outscored the Pacers 29-19 in the final frame. The Raptors turned up the defense and got Hibbert to foul out, which opened up Toronto's offense.
X factor: The two-headed PG tandem of Lowry and Vasquez combined for 16 assists and shepherded the Raptors through some rough patches in the second and third quarters.
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