The Toronto Raptors were without both of their All-Stars Kyle Lowry (toe) and Pascal Siakam (knee) in this contest but still pulled off one of their toughest wins of the season.
Behind another offensive outburst from OG Anunoby and some stout defence from Fred VanVleet, the Raptors were able to mute the dynamic duo of Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon to get the job done.
For more on the victory, we have you covered with some takeaways below.
1. Offensive-minded OG Anunoby
Anunoby was already taking strides offensively prior to this game and without two of the team's premier scorers, he flexed his scoring muscles again.
OG playin' bully ball pic.twitter.com/Y0Qt8ubfOU- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 24, 2021
Entering the contest on a career-best streak of seven consecutive games scoring double figures, Anunoby only needed one quarter to extend that stretch to eight games with 11 points and three 3s in the first frame.
Finishing the game with 30 points (just two shy of his career-high), Anunoby has now eclipsed his season-high in scoring in back-to-back games, playing some of the best basketball of his career on the offensive side of the ball. His hot 3-point shooting has been the catalyst of his offensive presence, shooting 26-for-43 over that eight-game stretch for a lights-out 60.5% clip.
Add to it that Anunoby also recorded five steals and spent the majority of the game defending All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis and it was as great of a two-way game as you could expect from the Raptors versatile forward.
2. Defensive-minded Fred VanVleet
We know what VanVleet is capable of offensively and while his defence gets some love every now and then, it's not praised the way his scoring and playmaking is. The attitude that Anunoby brought on the offensive end, VanVleet brought on the defensive end in completely shutting down Pacers catalyst Malcolm Brogdon.
Brogdon is amidst the best year of his career, averaging 22.5 points, 7.2 assists and just 1.9 turnovers per game on efficient shooting of 46.5% from the field and 42.3% from 3.
Because of VanVleet's hard-nosed defence, Brogdon had his lowest scoring, least efficient game of the season finishing with just 12 points while shooting 5-for-22 (22.7%) from the field and 1-for-10 from 3. No possession was more important than when the Pacers had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter and VanVleet locked up Brogdon to force a shot clock violation.
FRED VANVLEET- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 24, 2021
Still providing 21 points and four assists on the offensive end, it was quite a well-rounded game for Toronto's star guard.
3. Walking double-double Domantas Sabonis
It wasn't Sabonis' best showing of the season but he makes recording a double-double look like a walk in the park. The All-Star forward has recorded a double-double in all 16 games he has played in this season and even on an off-night, he still went for 10 points and 19 rebounds.
The Raptors played Sabonis tough defensively, collapsing on him any time he touched the ball around the basket. By throwing multiple bodies at him, Toronto forced Sabonis into his worst shooting game of the year going 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point land.
4. Myles Turner block party
Turner deserves to be in the early-season conversation for Defensive Player of the Year and he bolstered his resume again in this contest. Entering the game averaging a league-leading 4.1 blocks per game, Turner only furthered that lead with another six blocks against the Raptors.
BLONKS 📈- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 24, 2021
Watch now on @FSIndiana or FOX Sports Go ➡️ https://t.co/k9Q7sXyp5S pic.twitter.com/MN9MFJ3yfk
It was his fifth time this season that he has recorded five or more blocks in a game - something that no other player has done more than twice.
Adding three steals to his stat line of 25 points and four rebounds, it was another strong showing from the Pacers' rim protector.
5. Nick Nurse goes deeper into the Raptors' bench
As you'd expect with Lowry and Siakam out, head coach Nick Nurse was forced to go deeper into his rotation than usual.
Of course, Chris Boucher made an impact off the bench as he has all season, going for 12 points and seven rebounds, but it was the irregulars that brought some energy to help the Raptors in this one.
Guys like Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre' Bembry each reached a new season-high in minutes played, doing all the little things to give the short-handed squad some quality minutes.
Watanabe was all over the floor, giving the Raptors three points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal while Bembry added four points, three boards and three assists. Both players even enjoyed some minutes in crunch time late in the fourth quarter.
Okay, @wacchi1013 👀 pic.twitter.com/DmdCTUOXis- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 24, 2021
The pairing gave Nurse good reason to consider them for incremental increases in playing time in other games moving forward.
6. What's next?
With the win, the Raptors advance to 7-9 on the season whereas the Pacers fall to 9-7. The two teams will face off again on Monday for the second game of their back-to-back meetings in Indiana.
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