NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 8th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (17-32) at Indiana Pacers (31-19), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Indiana Pacers are making life miserable for visiting teams this season and will begin a stretch of five straight home games, starting with Friday's bout with the Toronto Raptors.
Indiana has ripped off 15 straight victories at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is 20-3 at home this season. The Pacers are 12-1 as the host versus teams from the East and made a quick trip to Philadelphia the last time out on Wednesday, when they posted an 88-69 triumph over the 76ers.
Roy Hibbert came through with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while George Hill, Paul George and David West scored 15 points apiece for Indiana, which completed a perfect back-to-back-to-back stretch.
"The tanks were on (empty) but our team is a very mentally tough team," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "They proved it tonight with a big win."
The Pacers shot just 39 percent for the game and scored 20 points off 15 Philadelphia turnovers.
Indiana will also host Brooklyn, Charlotte, New York and Detroit on the homestand, and is riding the longest home winning streak since an amazing 25- game stretch back in 1999-00. Another home win would extend the Pacers' streak of seasons with a winning home record to 24 in a row.
The Pacers are 53-18 in the last 71 regular-season games at the Fieldhouse.
Toronto limps into this Friday night matchup losers in 10 of the last 13 games, including a 99-95 setback versus Boston in the finale of a three-game homestand.
Newcomer Rudy Gay posted 25 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for the Raptors, who received 17 points from Kyle Lowry and 16 points and 12 boards out of Amir Johnson. The Raptors notched a 34-19 advantage in the third quarter, but the Celtics answered with a 30-16 difference in the final frame.
"We didn't start with any hunger or fight and we didn't close it out in the fourth quarter. The bench has to step up," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
The Raptors have been outscored in the fourth quarter in five of the last six games and are averaging just 21.0 points and shooting .377 from the field in the fourth stanza over the last six.
Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani returned to the lineup versus the Celtics after missing the previous 26 games due to a torn right elbow ligament and strained right wrist. Bargnani had a bench-high 13 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.
Toronto will try to improve its 5-19 road ledger Friday and has split the first two meetings with Indiana this season. Both teams have won on the road, while the Pacers are still a dominant 9-4 in the past 13 matchups. DeRozan is averaging 12.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the two games against the Pacers.
Indiana is 15-5 in the past 20 encounters with Toronto at home.
02/08 10:29:27 ET