TORONTO (AP) — After playing cat and mouse with the Indiana Pacers for much the first half Friday night, the Toronto Raptors scored 34 points in the third quarter to take full control.
With DeMar DeRozan’s 40 points leading the way, they cruised to a 111-100 victory Friday night, the Raptors’ seventh straight home win over the Pacers.
“We can’t give them hope or let them catch a rhythm,” DeRozan said. “The next thing you know, we’re fighting again. We understood that and that was on my mind coming out for the second half and trying to push it out there and get us going.”
Tied at 62 with 5:50 left in the third, the Raptors used an 18-6 run to end the quarter, and didn’t let up the rest of the way.
DeRozan’s seventh 40-point game of the season did much of the damage. The All-Star guard was 11 of 26 from the floor to register his 30th game of 30 points or more this season, tying Vince Carter’s 2000-01 franchise mark.
In the continued absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry, DeRozan acknowledged that he’s had to show a certain amount of discipline with his game to effectively fill the void.
“It’s me understanding the game,” he said. “How to score, how to get to my spots, not forcing. Picking the times to really attack and me being more of a mature player.”
For the second consecutive game, he was ably abetted by Jonas Valanciunas, who had 17 rebounds and 16 points for his team-leading 28th double-double of the season.
The Lithuanian center, who also had 15 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte, established a career high, surpassing the 714 rebounds he had in the 2013-14 season.
“I hope it’s going to continue like that,” he said. “I’m just playing with energy and something is giving me extra energy, extra focus and I have to keep it that way.”
After losing five of their last six games, the Pacers’ hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the East is looking somewhat tenuous, now just a half-game up on the Chicago Bulls.
Paul George led the way for Indiana with 28 points and nine rebounds, but said his team will have to play better defense if it hopes to make the postseason.
“Our past couple of games, we have been giving up 100-plus (points) and you are not going to win at a high rate, especially if you don’t have an efficient offense,” he said.
The Pacers’ last win at the Air Canada Centre was on March 1, 2013.
While Indiana shot just 8 of 25 from the floor in the period, the Raptors were at a 50 percent clip on 9 for 18 shooting, including four of five from beyond the arc.
“That’s the thing that we have seen from teams, is second half, the level of play you expect that to go up,” said Indiana coach Nate McMillan. “Teams have done that and we haven’t necessarily responded quick enough and long enough in these games and you have to do that.”
Pacers: C Al Jefferson (left ankle) and F Glenn Robinson III (left calf) both missed the game. … Indiana has dropped nine of its last 10 regular-season meetings with Toronto.
Raptors: Toronto wore its black-and-gold alternate uniforms, inspired by Canadian rapper, Drake, the team’s global ambassador. … Toronto is 6-1 when playing at home on a Friday. … With the victory, Toronto can lock up home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs if Atlanta loses at Chicago on Saturday. … Toronto outrebounded Indiana 53-42.
With two 3-pointers in the first half, DeMarre Carroll reached 100 made 3s for the second time in his career and the first since the 2014-15 season, when he had 120.
Valanciunas made team history in the third quarter with 13 rebounds, setting a franchise mark for most in a single period. The previous record of 10 had been achieved five times, most recently by Reggie Evans against Philadelphia on Nov. 24, 2010.
Pacers: Visit Cleveland on Sunday aiming to snap a six-game road losing streak against the Cavaliers.
Raptors: Host Philadelphia on Sunday looking for a ninth straight home win over the Sixers.