On a night where Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan had off-shooting nights, the Toronto Raptors were still able to steal a 108-98 win against the reeling Indiana Pacers.
At one point late in the fourth quarter Bargnani and DeRozan were shooting a combined 7-22 from the field and had only been able to muster up 22 points between the two of them.
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Luckily for the Raptors a handful of role players came prepared to play and stepped up with big games.
Leandro Barbosa provided the team with a huge scoring spark in the first half as he scored 18 of the team’s 62 points. He finished with a team-high 29 points while jacking up 21 field goals.
Not bad for a player who had been averaging 9.4 points while shooting 40% from the field over his past 10 games.
“He was amazing,” James Johnson boasted to the media after the game. “The way he was slashing and cutting? You can’t ask for more out of the guy coming off the bench.”
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As great as Barbosa’s impact on the offensive end he had an equally important role on the defensive end. Throughout the entire game he was active on defense taking away passing panes and was vocal throughout the game barking out to his teammates.
After the game he shrugged this off by saying he defense was just something that helped him find his groove on the court tonight.
“I think I was just really into the game on both ends of the court,” Barbosa admitted to me after the game. “When you have a good defense you have a good offense, I guess. When I was on the floor tonight the team was helping me find my flow and coach was giving me a lot of confidence by running the plays for me. Luckily I was able to finish.”
Reggie Evans was a complete beast when he came into the game and changed the entire tone. He snagged eights rebounds in the first half and finished with game-high 16. Not only that, but he frustrated Roy Hibbert and Jeff Foster while getting both players in foul trouble.
Once again the fans in the Air Canada Centre showered him with love as chants of “Reg-gie” rained down early in the second quarter and Evans soaked up the adoration.
“We love each other,” Evans joked with HOOPSADDICT.com after the game. “We feed off of each other. They work hard to pay for a ticket so I’ve got to meet ‘em half way. It’s like we kind of have a bond with each other.”
Another player who helped on the glass tonight was Ed Davis who had six rebounds in the first half and finished with 13. Davis and Evans combined for nearly as many rebounds (30) as the entire Pacers roster (34).
After attempting a career-high 13 field goal attempts on Wednesday, Davis wasn’t looking for his shot as much tonight and only attempted three field goals in the first half before finishing with six. However, he made the most of those opportunities as he went 5-6 from the field and finished with an efficient 12 points.
James Johnson had seemed to slow down after a great start with the team but got back on track tonight by scoring the team’s first six points. He finished the first half with 13 points while going 6-6 from the field.
Even though he didn’t score the rest of the game he left his impact on the game through his defense on Danny Granger. In an ironic twist, it turns out the team made him a focus on offense early in the game in an attempt to motivate him to play tough defense on Danny Granger throughout the game.
“He had a tough assignment tonight and we wanted to get him engaged in the game so we ran a couple of plays for him early,” Jay Triano told HOOPSADDICT.com after the game. “Right off the opening tip he started the game playing aggressively. His job tonight was to try and control Danny Granger and for the most part he did a good job. Granger is a guy who has been struggling a little bit and we wanted to make sure he didn’t get going. He got going a bit in the second half but I thought James did a good job defensively.”
If all it takes to keep Johnson engaged is for him to get some touches in the first half than the team should continue to do this because it clearly worked out well for him and the rest of the team tonight.
Well, everybody except Bargnani and DeRozan.
Photo Courtesy of Ryan McNeill