Raptors' defence claws back control

INDIANAPOLIS • The Toronto Raptors have a reputation for being one of the National Basketball Association's best defensive teams and it was that defence that allowed the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seeds to regain control of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.

Toronto forced 17 turnovers in Thursday's Game 3 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse and converted those mistakes into 26 points in a dominating 101-85 victory. They also limited the Pacers to 38.2 per cent field-goal shooting and six of 22 from three-point range.

While stand-out guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to struggle with their shooting, it has not mattered in Games 2 and 3, which the Raptors won with their defence.

The Raptors got 21 points and eight assists from Lowry and 21 points from DeRozan in taking a 2-1 series lead and regaining home-court advantage after losing Game 1 in Toronto.

DeMarre Carroll added 17 points for Toronto, who took a 10-9 lead and never trailed again.

Game 4 is at Bankers Life Fieldhouse today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).

Through three games, Lowry is averaging 16.7 points while shooting 31.9 per cent from the field and DeRozan is averaging 15 points while shooting 30.4 per cent. But the way the Raptors are defending and getting strong bench play, Toronto are finding their way.

"I like the activity, our intensity and our approach," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the Raptors' Game 3 defence. "I think it just set the tone for the entire game. We have to stay away from the touch fouls, but I really liked our defensive intensity."

The Pacers' 36 first-half points represent the team's worst output during the first 24 minutes of any game this season.

Toronto also out-rebounded the Pacers 45-38, including 15 offensive boards, boosting the Raptors' offensive rebound total to 47 in the first three games of this series.

Paul George led Indiana with 25 points, Myles Turner scored 17 and George Hill added 13.

Carroll limited George to six-of-19 shooting, including one of eight from behind the arc.

While the Toronto locker room was a happy place, the mood was sombre in the Pacers' quarters.

"They outplayed us in all aspects of the game," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "Turnovers were a real problem, and they (Raptors) are a problem for us at the rim.

"We have done a good job on Lowry and DeRozan, but we have to take better care of the ball."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Raptors' defence claws back control'. Subscribe