INDIANAPOLIS – Rudy Gay is making a difference in Toronto, and the Raptors couldn’t be happier with their newest player.
Gay rediscovered his shooting touch in time to score 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime Friday night. He hit a 17-foot jumper with 1.7 seconds left in the extra period to send the Raptors past the Indiana Pacers 100-98.
He definitely gives our team a lift. He’s a closer, you know? forward Amir Johnson said. That’s something we’ve been missing.
A week ago, Gay was in Memphis waiting to find out whether he would be traded.
Since arriving in Toronto, he has scored 20 or more points in all four games.
The win ended the Raptors’ three-game losing streak and made them the first team to beat the Pacers on their home court twice this season.
Gay almost single-handedly rallied Toronto (18-32) by making big play after big play – even when he wasn’t making shots.
During the final sequence of regulation, it was Gay’s missed layup that eventually led to Johnson’s tip-in to make it 90-88 with 6.2 seconds left. And when it looked as though the Pacers had the game sealed, Gay stole a bad inbounds pass from David West that led to Johnson’s buzzer-beating tip-in, which stood up following a replay review and forced the already weary Pacers to play an extra 5 minutes.
It was enough to push the Pacers over the edge.
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points for Toronto, and Johnson finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
But it was Gay who made all the right plays late.
For the Pacers (31-20), it was a surprising end to a marvelous run.
Coming into the game, Indiana had won five straight, including three in three nights this week. It had won 15 in a row at home, its longest streak since 1999-2000, beating Miami twice, New York, Chicago and Memphis along the way.
Yet coach Frank Vogel was understandably concerned about the fatigue factor as the Pacers played their fourth game in five nights, and eventually Central Division-leading Indiana ran out of steam.
West finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and five turnovers. All-Star forward Paul George had 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. The only other player to score in double figures was Lance Stephenson with 11, and it was clear over the final 17 minutes that the Pacers were gassed.
We’re pretty fatigued. I felt like today was the toughest day of this whole stretch, even through the back-to-back-to-back, George said. I just think it set in before the game.