Before the game, Frank Vogel was asked what he expected from Leandro Barbosa in his first game against his former Toronto teammates.
"I just asked him to try to score 50," Vogel said with a grin. "If he can do that, we'll be in good shape."
Barbosa fell short of that assignment -- scoring 14 --- but had no less of an impact on the game. The former Raptor hit a huge 3-pointer down the stretch as the Pacers fought off a furious rally and held on for a 103-98 victory Monday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Coming off the bench after Danny Granger picked up his fifth foul with Toronto trailing just 86-81, Barbosa drove for a layup and hit a 3-pointer to make it 93-85 with 2:09 remaining.
The Raptors closed to 95-90 in the final minute but George Hill -- making his first start of the season -- hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to seal it for Indiana. Hill started at point guard in place of Darren Collison, who missed the game with a strained groin.
The Pacers (35-22) swept the season series from the Raptors (20-38) for the first time since 2003-04, winning all three games by the same five-point margin.
BY THE NUMBERS
Hill scored 18 with seven rebounds and four assists for the Pacers. Granger scored 18 as his streak of consecutive games with at least 20 was snapped at five. Paul George scored 15 with six rebounds and three assists. The Pacers shot 51 percent.
Linas Kleiza led the Raptors with 18 points off the bench, making 10-of-10 free throws. Alan Anderson scored 17, Amir Johnson 16 with seven rebounds, Ed Davis 11 with 10 rebounds and DeMar DeRozan 10. Jose Calderon had 14 assists. The Raptors shot 48 percent.
"Give (Toronto Coach) Dwane Casey credit for them playing hard and not quitting on the season. They didn’t quit on the game tonight, either. Defensively, we were strong the first half and obviously not the second half. We just kept scoring and we weren’t getting enough stops." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"I’ve been pleased with everything (Barbosa) has done since he got here. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket like few in this league." - Vogel
"This is one of those dangerous teams that you know can jump up and slap you. We had to let them know that we could defend and hit keys shots." - David West
"We had the energy and the knockout punch. But they got up and came back. They hit some shots, we missed some shots and they were back in the game. We were able to beat them down and not play lackadaisical and were able to pull a win out. We did a pretty fair job on defense but we’ve got to get better." - George
STAT OF THE GAME
This was Hill's 56th career start. In the previous 55, all with San Antonio and most at point guard, he averaged 33 minutes, 14.8 points, 3.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
Kleiza keyed the Raptors' 15-2 run in the fourth quarter with 10 points, including a jumper that cut it to 81-79 with 6:45 remaining. But the Pacers scored five in a row, including a dunk by Granger, to quell that threat.
After taking a 14-point lead at halftime, the Pacers kept the Raptors at least nine points away throughout a physical third quarter. Toronto trailed 71-62 late in the period after an Alan Anderson 3-pointer but the Pacers scored the final six of the quarter, including a 3-pointer and then a layup by Barbosa, to push the advantage to 77-62 heading into the fourth.
Runs of 9-0 in the first quarter and 8-0 to open the second -- both capped by lob dunks to Lou Amundson -- gave the Pacers breathing room. They led by double digits most of the second period and took a 51-37 lead into the locker room after shooting 51 percent while holding the Raptors to 41 percent.
Things got a little chippy in the third period as Granger and Alan Anderson picked up double technicals and Jamaal Magloire was T'd up for shouldering Tyler Hansbrough to the floor as the teams ran upcourt. … Roy Hibbert hobbled to the locker room late in the first half after rolling his right ankle but he returned to start the second half. … Collison missed his first game of the season with a strained groin. Hill started his first game with the Pacers at the point, with A.J. Price moving into the backup role. … Hansbrough shed the mask he had been wearing to protect a broken nose and facial bone since March 10. … Toronto's leading scorer, Andrea Bargnani, missed the game and could be out the rest of the season after re-injuring his left calf in the first half of a loss to Oklahoma City Sunday. Bargnani missed 26 games from late January to early March with a strained left calf. Amir Johnson started in Bargnani's place. … The Pacers did not have a morning shootaround as Vogel opted to give the players extra opportunity for rest after completing a stretch of 12 games in 17 days with a loss to Boston Saturday. … NFL great Larry Fitzgerald was in attendance to cheer on Toronto's Anderson, a long-time friend.
The Pacers travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers in the first of a two-game home-and-home set. The Cavs come to Indianapolis Friday. The Pacers have struggled in both meetings with Cleveland, needing overtime to win 98-91 on Dec. 30 as Granger scored nine of his 22 points in the extra session. Kyrie Irving missed the potential game-winning layup at the buzzer in regulation. The Cavs won 98-87 on Feb. 15 at Quicken Loans Arena in a game Granger missed. Cleveland has dropped 13 of 15 and faces Charlotte Tuesday. The Cavs are without two injured starters, Irving (shoulder) and Anderson Varejao (wrist).