Siakam, Barnes lead Raptors over Pacers in wild shootout in Indiana

Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield were great too, but came up just short

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It was a barnburner in basketball country on Wednesday night and the Raptors pulled one out over Indiana … barely.

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Buddy Hield fired a long three-pointer off the backboard, the rim and out at the buzzer after Gary Trent missed a pair of free throws, and the Raptors escaped with a 132-131 victory.

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Hield had hit seven three-pointers earlier and superstar guard Tyrese Haliburton was looking for his 17th assist on the play (along with 33 points), but Hield just missed.

Pascal Siakam was spectacular for the Raptors, scoring 36 points, including 13 in the third quarter, Dennis Schroder added 26, Scottie Barnes 20 and both teams shot over 53% from the field in the old-fashioned shootout.

Other than in the first few minutes of the game, the Raptors looked unrecognizable from the group that had played one of its worst games of the season a night earlier, a 126-107 loss in Orlando.

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This Toronto team didn’t look lost offensively and didn’t look half asleep or nonchalant. And this Toronto team went blow for blow with the best offensive team in the NBA and came out on top.

Indiana was coming off an absolutely bananas 157-152 regulation win over Atlanta. Haliburton had scored 37 in that one and added 16 assists. Haliburton came into the game leading the league in assists, assists per game and a variety of advanced offensive stats. As a team, Indiana had averaged a whopping 122.6 points per 100 possessions, which would be an all-time NBA best for a full season, but was giving back 120.2, second-worst behind only Charlotte.

Indiana was missing reserve guard Andrew Nembhard, of Aurora, Ont., who lit up the Raptors in his return home last season in a win.

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Hield returned to Indiana’s starting lineup against the Hawks and hit all six of his three-point attempts and started Wednesday’s game by connecting on 5-of-6 and stayed hot from there. A game after hitting 22 three-pointers on sizzling 49% shooting, the Pacers hit five in the first quarter and 18 in all.

Toronto, one of the slowest-starting teams in the NBA, once again got off to a bad beginning, falling behind 10-2 and then by 13 midway through the first quarter. The Raptors gave up 35 points and trailed by eight after a quarter, but looked much better in the second, outscoring the Pacers 41-30 to lead by three at the half. It could have been more, but Myles Turner nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

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Siakam had 19 at the half, Dennis Schroder 14, but four Pacers cracked double figures in the first 24 minutes and the team hit 11 three-pointers.

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If Tuesday’s game in Orlando and Sunday’s against Detroit were one-sided, no-contest affairs that were ultimately split by the Raptors, this one was anything but boring or a blowout.

Neither team could create separation. Indiana went up by seven with four minutes to go, but Toronto kept creeping back within a basket.

There was an Anunoby three-pointer to give the Raptors a late lead, but the game wasn’t close to over with lots of action ensuing, highlighted by a shocking wide open Barnes as he rolled to the basket for a slam dunk while being fouled by Turner, one of the NBA’s best rim protectors. It was the 26th lead change of the game and Barnes hit the free throw too.

It ended with Trent bricking the two free throws and Hield coming close to pulling out a wild win.

It wasn’t pretty, but it got the Raptors back within a game of .500.

@WolstatSun

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