A 112-92 victory over Raptors 905 on Sunday taught fans much about the new-look Mad Ants, who are in their first season being owned and operated by the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
• The defensive dominance of the 83-80 victory Saturday over the Raptors, cemented by Xavier Thames’ 3-pointer at the buzzer, wasn’t a fluke. On Sunday, the Mad Ants forced 24 turnovers, five more than they had in the season opener, and outdid the Raptors in steals (12-4) and blocked shots (7-4).
• Rakeem Christmas, a rookie out of Syracuse, may not be with the Mad Ants for long, since the Pacers have injuries and Indiana president Larry Bird was among the 2,064 at Memorial Coliseum. Christmas had 19 points and a team-high nine rebounds after totaling 24 points and seven rebounds in the opener.
"Rak is a big, strong athletic big man, and you can see why he’s in the NBA. He can run and he’s got a nice post game," Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. "And that he was going against those bigs (Lucas Nogueira, Bruno Coboclo and Keanau Post) the past two days, it really helped him and helped his confidence. He hadn’t played a lot of minutes in preseason with the Pacers … and to see him go against somebody and have success, it’s great."
• After a disappointing four-point performance in the opener, it’s clear that rookie Terran Petteway can score. He had a team-best 22 points with six rebounds and four assists.
"TP was a little upset yesterday in how he played," Gansey said. "I told these guys, ‘Don’t worry about it. You have to look at it like you’re playing golf. If you shank the ball into the woods, you can either be upset or you can try and have a good shot and put it three feet from the cup and get a birdie.’ "
Petteway, who was the Big Ten scoring champion with 18.1 points per game last season at Nebraska, felt more comfortable Sunday. So did Walter Lemon Jr., who had 16 points, a 14-point improvement.
"I got the jitters out," Petteway said. "Tonight, it came down to just being out there and having fun, really. The first game, it was about getting the nervousness out."
• En route to the 2014 championship and the 2015 finals, the Mad Ants thrived on 3-point shooting. After converting 6 of 24 shots from beyond the arc in the opener, the Mad Ants were 12 of 28, led by four apiece from Petteway and Shayne Whittington, the other Pacer on the roster.
The Raptors, owned by the Toronto Raptors and based in Mississauga, Ontario, were led by Caboclo’s 25 points and six rebounds.
The Mad Ants had a 13-10 lead before a Lemon layup with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter kicked off a 17-3 run – it included a Lemon steal for a dunk, a Marcus Simmons end-to-end rush for a basket and a scramble for a loose ball that set up a Christmas dunk – but it ended with a Melvin Johnson III 3-pointer for the Raptors.
The Mad Ants responded with back-to-back Ramon Harris 3-pointers for a 38-18 lead with 7:52 remaining in the second.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Petteway and Whittington made it 78-52 with 4:10 left in the third, and the Raptors fell to 0-2 in their inaugural season.