DeRozan regains shooting touch as Raptors rout Pacers 101-85
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) DeMar DeRozan finally found his shooting touch Thursday night, and Kyle Lowry finally got Toronto's offense rolling.
Together, they had the Raptors looking a lot more like that dominant regular-season team.
The All-Star guards scored 21 points each to help Toronto rout Indiana 101-85 and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series while reclaiming the home-court advantage they squandered six days earlier.
''We just have to keep building, keep continuing to get better at both ends,'' DeRozan said. ''(This series) is going to be tough. But that's why we take it so serious when we are at practice, at shootaround and watching film.''
The playoff-challenged Raptors desperately needed something to go right.
In the first two games, DeRozan and Lowry were a combined 15 of 63 from the field and just 1 of 17 from 3-point range. DeRozan didn't even get to the free throw line Monday night - only the second time that had happened this season.
But leaving the Air Canada Centre apparently put the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed at ease, and the Raptors dynamic backcourt reverted to its more traditional form.
DeRozan made his first three shots, scored 12 points in the first quarter and went 7 of 19 from the field and 7 of 9 at the free throw line.
Lowry finished 8 of 21 from the field, was 4 of 10 from 3 and scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Toronto has its fifth playoff series lead ever and needs two more victories to win a series for the second time in franchise history.
Game 4 is Saturday in Indianapolis.
''We're playing more to our identity,'' Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ''I don't think in Game 1 we played to our identity and even Game 2. There's so many things we can do better. I won't be happy until we (advance).''
DeRozan's early scoring flurry helped Toronto jump to a 21-13 lead and when he went to the bench at the start of the second quarter, his teammates continued the onslaught with an 18-7 spurt that made it 42-24.
Indiana, which was led by Paul George with 25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, spent the rest of the game futilely playing catch-up. The Pacers couldn't get closer than 12 points during the final 33 minutes of a downright embarrassing night.
They scored a season-low 36 points in the first half, flirted with a season-low shooting percentage most of the game and came perilously close to enduring their second-worst playoff loss ever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse - until a late push cut into Toronto's 23-point lead.
''Too many times we're playing passive, not being aggressive and not being assertive. That's playing right into their hands,'' George said. ''Our best offense is when we're in attack mode and I don't think we're doing that enough.''
The Raptors again dominated the middle. They outrebounded Indiana 45-38 overall and 15-9 on the offensive glass. Jonas Valanciunas finished with nine points and 14 rebounds and he's averaging a league-best 16.0 rebounds in the playoffs.
Neither the Pacers nor their fans were pleased with the way the game was officiated. George drew a technical foul in the final minute of the first quarter, Rodney Stuckey picked up another technical less than 3 minutes later and Turner drew his technical midway through the third.
Casey, who was born in Indy, had his own cheering section in town. While his late mother was a die-hard Pacers fan and his family continued the legacy, Casey said he instructed the family and friends who came to the game not to wear Pacers colors. ''They still root for them except when they played Seattle and Dallas and now Toronto,'' Casey said, noting a few of his stops along the way.
Raptors: The other series leads Toronto has held were: A 3-2 series win over the Knicks in 2001, 1-0 and 2-1 over Philadelphia in 2001 and 3-2 over Brooklyn in 2014. ... Toronto is 5-19 all-time in playoff road games. ... Swingman Terrence Ross had five points and three rebounds in a little less than 10 minutes after passing the league's concussion protocol.... DeMarre Carroll scored 17 points and Cory Joseph had 10.
Pacers: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attended the game. It was his second trip to Indy in less than three weeks. He also attended the NCAA women's basketball championship. ... Thursday was the fifth anniversary of George's home playoff debut. The Pacers also lost that night, to the Chicago Bulls. ... Indiana's worst playoff loss on its current home court was 110-79 to Boston in 2005. ... The only other Indiana players to reach double figures were Myles Turner, who had 17 points and eight rebounds, and George Hill, who scored 13 points.