The Toronto Raptors will try to beat the visiting Indiana Pacers for the third time this month on Sunday.
The Raptors eked out a 119-118 home victory on Feb. 5 and had a 115-106 road win over the Pacers two nights later. Both came during Toronto’s franchise-best 15-game winning streak.
The Pacers had a 120-115 overtime victory over the Raptors at home on Dec. 23.
The Raptors, who had their winning streak stopped Feb. 12 with a 101-91 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets, returned from the All-Star break Friday with a 118-101 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns.
Toronto had a comfortable lead for most of the game, but the Suns crept to within six points with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter before the Raptors pulled away again.
“Well, we’re a good team, so we just continue to pick each other up, stay in the moment and understand that emotions are going to be high, but we’re still going to find a way to win the game,” said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who had 13 points and 10 assists. “That’s all that really matters.”
Lowry has five straight double-doubles and 12 for the season.
The Raptors have won 16 of their past 17 games with 12 of the victories coming against teams with losing records. They are 6-1 in February.
The Pacers returned from the break Friday with a 106-98 road victory over the New York Knicks, although guard Victor Oladipo left the game with back spasms after scoring eight points in 25 minutes.
It was his first game without minutes restrictions since his return on Jan. 29 after being out for a year with ruptured right quadriceps. He said he hopes to be able to play Sunday when Indiana attempts to tack on another win.
“We had a few mistakes but that’s normal,” said Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who had 27 points Friday. “It’s a game of mistakes.”
Warren missed the previous two games in February against Toronto due to the concussion protocol. The Pacers have won two in a row, starting with a 118-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 12 that stopped a season-worst, six-game losing streak.
The Pacers held the Knicks to five offensive rebounds resulting in eight points Friday. The Pacers had 12 offensive rebounds.
“It’s going to be a big factor from here on out,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We emphasized that (Friday). This is the best offensive rebounding team in the league. We challenged the guards and the forwards all to get in there and help on the boards.”
The Pacers had a 50-40 overall advantage in rebounds over the Knicks.
The Raptors, who have won eight straight at home, shot 52.5 percent from the field on Friday, including 54.3 percent in the first half. Toronto is 16-0 this season when shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 37 points against the Suns, 25 in the first half.
“When you’re making shots everything feels good and everything looks good,” Siakam said. “But I think I just liked the fact that I was more engaged and kind of showed some passion. I think that’s important.”
–Field Level Media