TORONTO – Roy Hibbert returned to the lineup Friday night and made his impact felt immediately. He chipped in with 18 points and three rebounds to help the Indiana Pacers pick up their fourth straight win in Toronto, a 93-81 victory over the Raptors.
Hibbert missed Thursday’s 99-91 loss to the Clippers while serving his one-game suspension for his involvement in a skirmish with the Warriors on Tuesday.
“We don’t condone fighting, but we condone having each other’s back,” he said “It’s unfortunate what happened, but you have to protect yourself, and we’re a team that sticks together.”
Paul George had a game-high 22 points, 10 rebounds, and David West added 15 points 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who had their five-game win streak snapped Thursday.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel credited the 9-2 run late in the third quarter, which helped the Pacers open up a 13-point lead, as the difference-maker in the win.
“David West obviously towards the end of the third was big,” Vogel said of West, who had eight of his 15 in the third. “That’s kind of been his time this year: third quarter, late third quarter. Ian (Mahinmi) made a couple jumpers and obviously Paul (George) plays the whole second half. That was when the game was decided for sure.”
Toronto (23-36) has lost three straight. The Raptors were looking for their third win over the Pacers (37-22) this season — the last time Toronto won three in a single season against Indiana was during the 2007-08 season.
Rudy Gay had a team-high 21 points as the Raptors dropped below .500 at home with a 15-16 record.
Gay was limited to less than five minutes of action in the fourth quarter due to back spasms.
“I tried to play through it because it’s not the time to sit out,” he said. “I just tried to play through it and do as much as I could for the team.”
George was assessed a technical foul early in the fourth after arguing a non-call.
Vogel lost his cool and had to be restrained by an assistant when Hibbert was charged with his fourth personal foul before the halfway mark of the third period.
The Pacers led 39-34 at halftime despite a nice one-handed dunk by Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan to end the half.
Toronto shot just 3 of 17 from the field in the opening period and, as a result, picked up a season-low 13 first-quarter points. Their previous low was 14, which they scored Feb. 13 at New York and against Memphis Feb. 20.
“You are talking about one of the best defensive teams in the league,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. “This is the level we have to get ready for. We have to develop that mentality. That is playoff basketball.”
Amir Johnson gave the Raptors their first lead early in the first quarter when he threw down a monster two-handed dunk. However, Indiana used a 6-0 run to forge ahead.
As a result of foul trouble, Johnson played just two minutes in the third quarter, something Vogel thought hurt the Raptors.
“I think he’s been one of their key guys this year,” Vogel said. “The way he’s playing, when you have that kind of length at the four as opposed to where they sometimes play him as the five — I think that’s a winning style. For him to get into foul trouble early in the third really limited them.”
Indiana’s Danny Granger played only 10 minutes Friday in the second of back-to-back games. It was the first time Indiana played games on consecutive nights since Granger returned from a knee injury, and the Pacers were being conservative with him.
NOTES: DeRozan averaging 19.8 points in February — 4.1 points per game more than his January average. … Heading into Friday’s game, Toronto’s bench had outscored Indiana’s reserves 93-57 this season. … The Raptors are 6.5 games behind Milwaukee for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. … Friday was Indiana’s first visit to Toronto since opening the season with a 90-88 win on Oct. 31. … Toronto snapped the Pacers 15-game home win streak on Feb. 15.