Derozan sparks Raptors' comeback

Toronto turn looming defeat into late victory, take 3-2 lead in play-off series against Pacers

TORONTO • The Toronto Raptors clawed back a 13-point deficit to defeat the Indiana Pacers 102-99 on Tuesday and take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven National Basketball Association play-off series.

Toronto had found themselves staring down the barrel of a home defeat after Indiana raced into a 90-77 lead in the third quarter.

But a 15-2 Raptors points blitz in the opening 5min 29sec of the fourth quarter hauled the hosts back into the contest, with rookie Norman Powell scoring a monster dunk to tie it 92-92.

DeMar DeRozan, who was the team's top performer with 34 points, then drained a three-pointer to give the Raptors their first lead and they held on for a pulsating win. Kyle Lowry weighed in with 14 points and five assists. Jonas Valanciunas added 11 points.

"I felt like my normal self," said DeRozan, who started the game averaging just 13.3 points. "Me and the guys weren't thinking too hard. It's all about patience, you can't get flustered, you can't get frustrated, you've got to stay the course. And that's what we're going to continue to do, whatever it takes to win."

Pacers star Paul George had a game-high 39 points, including eight rebounds and eight assists, while George Hill added 15 points and Myles Turner had 14.

George bemoaned the Pacers' failure to hang on for what would have been a potentially pivotal road victory. "We didn't make enough plays, that is what it came down to in the fourth quarter," he said.

"We have to put this (game) away. Friday (Game 6) is a new day and we have to get a win - it's a must-win (game). It's awful to have a chance to win on the road and then come back home, but we failed to live up to the moment."

SETTING THE AGENDA

It's all about patience, you can't get flustered, you can't get frustrated, you've got to stay the course. And that's what we're going to continue to do, whatever it takes to win.

DEMAR DEROZAN, Toronto Raptors guard, whose three-pointer in the final quarter put his team in front.

The Pacers had appeared to be firmly in control after opening up a 61-52 half-time lead.

Indiana had looked the more polished side throughout the opening half, with George scoring 22 of his points in the first two quarters.

Toronto had lagged 35-20 after the first quarter, following Indiana's free-scoring start. George led the Pacers' scoring with 12 points and four assists in the quarter while Hill added nine points.

However, Pacers coach Frank Vogel elected to start the fourth quarter with George on the bench, which coincided with the Raptors comeback.

"Their bench came in with great energy and made a little bit of a run early and they carried it over against our starters when our guys got back in," Vogel said. "(George) looked pretty gassed at the end of the third. We had a decent lead, but I thought we could hold up."

The series now moves to Indianapolis on Friday for Game 6.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'DEROZAN SPARKS RAPTORS' COMEBACK'. Print Edition | Subscribe