Raptors lose heartbreaker to Pacers in Pascal Siakam’s return to Toronto

The buzz around this game was huge, however, the outcome didn’t favour the home team as the Toronto Raptors (19-36) fell short in the final moments losing to the Indiana Pacers (31-25) to a score of 127-125. This game came down to the final possession which belonged in the hands of the Raptors but was a result that summed up how the season has gone thus far.

It was clear from the first few minutes that this would be a high-scoring affair. Indiana is ranked 26th in defensive rating at 119.2, being one of the worst teams in the league. Despite that, Toronto is only two spots better than them with a rating of 117.2. The Raptors were also coming off an embarrassing blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs and played with a chip on their shoulder.

Their two leading scorers led the way for the Raptors. RJ Barrett and Scottie Barnes reminded the basketball world how good they are with performances that Raptors faithful are accustomed to seeing from the two young stars. Barrett finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, a serious problem when attacking downhill. Scottie Barnes was sensational with 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a huge bounceback from one of the worst games of his career against the Spurs.

Toronto noticed early the matchups that they could take advantage of and did so. Anytime T.J. McConnell or Doug McDermott were guarding any of Toronto’s ball handlers, they used their speed and strength to attack them for easy baskets. On the flip side, Indiana took advantage of the lack of defense from the Raptors.

Tyrese Haliburton, who was a game-time decision, proved why he is an All-Star starter. The 23-year-old guard finished with 21 points and 12 assists while converting five three-pointers. He was joined by his All-Star teammate, the very player that used to consider Toronto their home.

Pascal Siakam started the game receiving a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd and finished the game giving the Raptors a poetic sendoff. Siakam was huge down the stretch, taking the role of Indiana’s main offensive creator and connecting on timely baskets. With 30 seconds left in the game, Pascal drove to the basket and finished a tough layup to extend the lead to three points.

The Raptors would eventually cut that lead to two points and had the ball for the final possession with a chance to tie or take the lead. RJ Barrett received the ball in isolation play guarded by Ben Sheppard. He was able to get to his spot within the paint for a turnaround jumper and it was off the back rim and out cementing Toronto’s fate with a defeat. The Raptors played a great game and found success in transition with 40 fast break points and 84 points in the paint. However, their inability to make shots from beyond the arc combined with Indiana’s great shooting (17-41 from three) was able to give the Pacers the edge.

Toronto will now get a much-needed break as the All-Star break has finally arrived. Raptors fans will be able to put to the side the struggle of a season it’s been and focus on something positive, which is Scottie Barnes participating in his first All-Star game. Barnes will take part in the 2024 KIA Skills Challenge on Saturday, February 17th along with the main event game on Sunday, February 18th.

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