Fred VanVleet caps late Raptors comeback

Fred VanVleet caps late Raptors comeback

Raptors 99 Pacers 96

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet capped a late Toronto rally with a three-pointer with 25.9 seconds left and the Raptors snapped a two-game slide by beating the Indiana Pacers 99-96 on Wednesday.

Kawhi Leonard had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the injury-riddled Raptors (24-9), who were playing without all-star point guard Kyle Lowry and big man Serge Ibaka.

Pascal Siakam had 17 points, VanVleet finished with 11 and Greg Monroe had 13 points.

Victor Oladipo led Indiana (20-12) with 20 points and Myles Turner had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

The Pacers were on short rest following a loss Tuesday night against Cleveland that snapped a season-high seven-game win streak.

It was the third consecutive game missed for Lowry, who is out with a thigh injury. Ibaka missed the game with swelling in his knee.

What looked to be a Pacers rout turned into a close game in the fourth quarter with Toronto chipping away at a 10-point deficit.

VanVleet was instrumental in the rally with three three-pointers, including one that put the Raptors up 97-96 with 25.9 seconds left for their first lead since the first quarter.

VanVleet had followed an emphatic Leonard dunk with five minutes left to cut Toronto’s deficit to 90-88, three minutes after bringing the Raptors within seven points at 88-81 with his first three of the quarter.

The Pacers used a 9-0 run, punctuated by a three-pointer from Bojan Bogdanovic, to go up 74-58 halfway through the third quarter. Another Bogdanovic three extended Indiana’s lead to 17 points at 77-60. The Pacers led by 10 heading into the fourth.

Bogdanovic finished with 18 points.

The Raptors went into halftime trailing 58-50 despite a 13-point first half from Leonard.

Toronto hit just three of their 18 three-point attempts over the first 24 minutes while Indiana went 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.

Indiana led 34-24 after the first quarter.

Monroe, inserted into the starting lineup due to the Raptors’ injury woes, had 10 points through the first 12 minutes.

Norm Powell played for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 5. He got a loud ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,800 when he entered three minutes into the first quarter and finished with two points.

Montreal native Chris Boucher played 9:43 and had five points and two rebounds, including a three-pointer on his first shot of the game.

Canadian Cory Joseph, who played two seasons with the Raptors from 2015-17, had five points, four rebounds, and two assists for Indiana. Joseph and Leonard were teammates on the San Antonio Spurs team that won the NBA Championship in 2014 and the two chatted briefly on the sidelines before the game.

Toronto came into Wednesday’s matchup having lost back-to-back games on the tail end of a west coast road trip.

NOTES: Powell split his lip when he was knocked into by Sabonis in the first quarter but returned to the game in the second. … Toronto hosts the Cavaliers Friday night. Indiana plays the Nets in Brooklyn Friday.

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