Villanueva, Bosh Help Raptors Past Pacers
Toronto 99, Indiana 97
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 30 (Ticker) -- Rookie Charlie Villanueva and Chris Bosh made sure the Indiana Pacers continued their slide.
Villanueva had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Bosh added 22 and 12 as the Toronto Raptors finished at .500 for the month of December by rallying for a 99-97 victory over the Pacers, who lost their fourth straight game.
"It was a really big victory for us tonight," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "I thought for the first two and a half quarters, we couldn't do anything right."
The Pacers responded as Fred Jones drained his second 3-pointer of the period and Anthony Johnson converted a layup with 5:22 left for an 89-83 lead.
"I asserted myself a little more tonight because we knew we had to have someone step up and I felt agressive, tried to take the open shot," said Jones, who scored 20 points.
But the Raptors were able to answer with a 16-4 run to take the lead for good. Mike James, who had 14 points in the fourth quarter, made a driving layup and jumper to give the Raptors the lead and Morris Peterson's dunk with 40 seconds left capped the surge.
Peterson did foul Stephen Jackson on a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left. Jackson made all three free throws to pull the Pacers within 99-96.
"I'll take the blame for that one. It was a dumb play," Peterson said. "I was trying to contest the shot and got a little too aggressive. That's his (Jackson) shot though, so I guess I'd rather him have to make three free throws that get an wide open shot."
After Austin Croshere split a pair of free throws to pull the Pacers within 99-97 with 2.5 seconds left, they had a chance to tie or send the game into overtime when the ball was knocked out of bounds. But Peterson stole the inbounds pass from Sarunas Jasikevicius to seal the victory.
"I baited him (Jasikevicius) a little bit on that play," said Peterson, who had three steals. "They set a screen for Jackson up top and we didn't switch like we should have. I hesitated and left him a little room. They didn't have any timeouts and I knew they had to get it in and just stepped in front of the pass."
"We're just not closing games," said Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal, who scored 20 points. "I don't know if it's being tired or what. We're not focusing in like we should, and that is all of us."
James had 19 points and 10 assists and Peterson scored 16 points for the Raptors, who went 7-7 in December. They went just 1-15 in November.
"We were in familiar territory for us, down 10-plus points in the second half," Bosh said. "But we never gave up and we made a lot of big plays down the stretch."
Jackson scored 23 points and Jeff Foster added 10 and 13 rebounds for Indiana, which made 6-of-21 shots from the arc.
"If we knew what to do (to end their slide), we'd do it," said Jones, who made 7-of-15 shots. "We need to continue to play hard, pick each other up, and shake this off."
Toronto held a 50-38 advantage in points in the paint, with 22 coming in the fourth quarter. The pick-and-roll between James and Bosh was a play that worked repeatedly.
"One play (pick and roll) should not be able to beat us, doesn't matter what team is running it," said O'Neal, who pulled down eight rebounds. "And we can talk about a lot of things, but we have to go out and do them. We just have to find a way to win."