As well as the Toronto Raptors have been playing of late, there was a sense of some unfinished business as the team took to the court last night at the Air Canada Centre to play the Indiana Pacers.
The last time these two clubs clashed, back on Jan. 11 in Indianapolis, the Raptors built a 23-point cushion in the second quarter only to fritter it away in a 105-101 Indiana triumph.
It was the largest comeback for a victory by a Raptors opponent this season and one that still bugs the team, which responded by winning six of its next eight contests heading into last night's tilt.
"It's who they are," Toronto coach Jay Triano said about Indiana's ability to fight back. "It's not like we're the only team that they've done that to."
There would be no repeat of Toronto's disappearing act last night but they came close - allowing the Pacers to fight back all the way from a 16-point third-quarter disadvantage to tie the game in the fourth.
But the Raptors were able to withstand the surge and pull away for a 117-102 National Basketball Association victory, their fifth win in a row to improve their record to 26-22.
Toronto power forward Chris Bosh agreed the Pacers are a difficult team to subdue.
"The way they run their offence is tough," said Bosh, who came close to recording his first career triple-double with 26 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. "They're all over the place.
"And the next thing you know someone's wide open at the three-point line and they can really shoot it from there."
The only downside to the night as far as the Raptors were concerned was Hedo Turkoglu took an elbow in the face charging into Indiana's Mike Dunleavy in the first minute of the game.
Turkoglu did not return and his injury has been diagnosed as a "very small" non-displaced fracture of the orbital bone under his right eye.
The forward will be re-evaluated again today and there's a chance he could wind up playing with a mask.
The game was the first of a back-to-back set for Toronto against the Pacers. The two clubs will hook up again tomorrow in Indianapolis.
"These happen in the NBA now like three or four times a year where you have the same team," Toronto head coach Jay Triano said. "It's almost playoff atmosphere because we don't have to go back and watch any other game.
"We're going to watch this one, dissect this one and the Pacers are going to do the same."
The Raptors connected on 62.8 per cent of their field goal attempts in the first half but only led by four points, 63-59, heading into the third quarter.
With Bosh leading the way in the third quarter with 12 of his game-high total points, the Raptors lead would extend as high as 89-73 with just under five minutes left in the frame.
But when you have big men like Danny Granger and Luther Head able to crash inside and who are also adept at drilling the three-ball, no lead is safe.
Indiana patiently whittled the lead back down and a desperate three-point shot by Head with the shot clock winding down knotted the score at 97-97 with just under eight minutes left in the game.
Bosh then responded by knocking down an 18-foot jumper.
That ignited a 13-2 Toronto run that finally killed the Pacers' hopes.
With Turkoglu absent for most of the game and rookie DeMar DeRozan sidelines for his third consecutive game with a bad ankle, the victory was another indication of the solid depth the Raptors have this season.
Sonny Weems, starting in DeRozan's place, came through with another solid game, finished with 13 points and six rebounds. And Antoine Wright, filling in for Turkoglu, also made his presence felt, chipping in with 15 points and six rebounds.
"We have a strong bench," Bosh said. "I think that was one of the keys to our success this year was how our bench was going to play. So far we've played pretty well."
Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien was impressed with the play of Bosh.
"He's trouble for anybody we put on him," O'Brien said. "We've tried over the years to put big guys on him, it doesn't work. We've tried to put small guys on him, it doesn't work either.
"I don't know if we have somebody to play Bosh to tell you the truth."
Notes: Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan missed his third consecutive game with a sprained right ankle ... how the mighty have fallen. Former Raptor T.J. Ford has fallen on tough times with Indiana, where he seldom gets on the court. Last night Ford was once again nailed to the bench, the 17th consecutive game he has not seen any court time ... as the Maple Leafs did for their home game Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, the Raptors paid tribute to the Canadian Military during their game. Close to 400 military service personnel were part of the announced attendance of 16,715 ... with the win the Raptors are 17-6 at home, the fastest they have reached 17 wins at home in franchise history.
next Tomorrow at Indianapolis v. the Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. EST
TV The Score.
Robert MacLeodReport Typo/Error