Pacers, Raptors in bounce-back mode

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TORONTO — The Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors have
taken similar paths to their meeting on Sunday at the Air
Canada Centre.

Both teams had poor performances in losses, had a team meeting
and then won the next game.

The Pacers were held to 29 points in the second half when they
lost 87-81 to the New York Knicks on Tuesday at Madison Square

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“We had a good sit down,” Pacers point guard Jeff Teague said.
“I think it did us some good. People got things off their chest
that needed to be off their chest and I think it worked out.

“It was good talk for everybody, something we needed.”

The Pacers (35-33) came back on Wednesday with a resounding
98-77 win at home over the Charlotte Hornets, who had won five
of the six previous games between the teams.

Indiana held the Hornets to 40 percent shooting (13 percent
from 3-point range) and communicated well with each other
throughout the game.

“We started trusting one another,” Teague said. “We were active
in our gaps and we were talking on the defensive end.
Offensively, we were having a good time.

“You could tell, like, it seemed like we cared and we cared
about one another.”

The Pacers have not played since Wednesday before facing the
Raptors, who were embarrassed at home Thursday 123-102 by the
Charlotte Hornets.

“I want to apologize to our fans, to everybody for the way we
played tonight,” coach Dwane Casey said.

The Raptors (40-29) had a team meeting after the game and
responded Friday on the road with a 87-75 win over the Detroit
Pistons, closing the game on a 24-3 run.

“The basketball gods are good to you when you play hard,” Casey
said. “Play the game the right way on both ends of the floor
and good things happen.

“I know we didn’t shoot lights out, but you continue to play
hard and play with force like that, your shots will soon fall.”

The Pistons scored nine points in the fourth quarter.

“The most important thing is setting the tone with our
disposition, a physical disposition,” Casey said. “We weren’t
going to get pushed around.

“Thursday night (against Oklahoma City) we lost our spirit when
they hit us. … Detroit tried to punch us and we withstood it
and that’s what we have to continue to do.”

The Raptors, who were winning for the second time in their past
five games, had only 14 points from their leading scorer, DeMar

The impressive thing about DeRozan’s performance was his

“Probably the best defense I have seen him play,” forward P.J.
Tucker said. “We were all messing with him after the game about
how he was chasing after screens and doing all the little dirty
work that you rarely see him do.

“I think, if we have him doing that, then everybody else who
steps in the game has got to do it.”

Said DeRozan: “It’s easier for everybody else to follow after
that. It was a big game for us on the road, so it was on me to
come out aggressive, not even offensively just doing everything

The Raptors defeated the Pacers in seven games when they met
last season in the first round of the playoffs. They have not
played since.

The game Sunday will be the first of three between the teams
during the rest of the regular season.

Both teams hope they have learned from poor performances
followed by wins this past week.

“They showed (Wednesday) that we know we gave one away
(Tuesday),” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “They responded,
playing the game hard against a very good Charlotte team that
has played well against us the last couple years.

“Coming in off a back-to-back, I thought we were locked into
what we needed to do on both ends of the floor. When you
communicate, it connects you. (Tuesday) we were quiet and we
really didn’t say much. (Wednesday) there was a lot of talking,
a lot of lifting and encouraging. Those are the things you need
from each other out there when you’re battling.”

McMillan also has said that his team needs to find consistency.

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