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Three Pointers: Pacers 94, Raptors 106

Brandon Curry

A trio of observations from the Indiana Pacers’ 106-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Pacers get beat by Toronto’s bench

The current leaders of the Eastern Conference won Friday night’s game over the Pacers with their reserves. Lou Williams led all scorers with 26 points off the bench. All together, the Raptors’ reserves combined for 64 points. Only one Toronto starter was in double figures and that was Jonas Valanciunas (10 points) who destroyed the Pacers on the glass.

The Pacers only led once in a game that Toronto controlled the majority of. It was a 3rd quarter run by the Raptors’ bench that essentially sealed the victory. Toronto head coach Dwane Casey road his reserves from there and the likes of Kyle Lowry, Valanciunas and Terrence Ross never re-entered.

Williams’ 3-point shooting fueled Toronto’s run, as he shot 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Other notables from Toronto’s bench: James Johnson (13 points), Patrick Patterson (11 points) and Greivis Vasquez (10 points).

Hibbert’s struggles continue

It’s difficult to pick out just one player during this most recent Pacers’ slide, but Hibbert has been underwhelming of late and it continued on Friday. He was an All-Star last year and still remains an important pillar to this current Pacers’ roster, but to put it simply, he hasn’t been playing like it.

Hibbert managed just six points against Toronto on 2-of-7 shooting (27 minutes). He grabbed only two rebounds while his individual match-up, Valanciunas, pulled in 14 — six of those on the offensive end.

Over the past 10 games, Hibbert’s per-game averages are the following: 7.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and is playing in just 22 minutes per. The Pacers have to get more from Hibbert if they expect to make a push for the playoffs.

Seven straight losses

Friday’s loss was the seventh straight for the Pacers — the first time that has happened with Frank Vogel as coach. The offense looks out of sync, while the defense — that was solid to begin the season — has started to slip and looks a step slow.

The schedule doesn’t let up anytime soon. The Pacers head home and play the Portland Trail Blazers (17-6) on Saturday, and will see the likes of the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets next week.

Although it appears the final few spots in the Eastern Conference will be up for grabs in terms of the playoffs, the Pacers are on one of those skids that could make things very interesting come February and the NBA’s trade deadline.

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