The Toronto Raptors made history on Wednesday - but it certainly didn't come easy.
Kyle Lowry poured in 32 points and Serge Ibaka added 30 points, including a huge three-pointer in the dying seconds, and the Raptors overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-118 for a franchise-record 12th consecutive victory.
Pascal Siakam had 25 points, while Terence Davis had 11 and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 10 for Toronto (37-14).
Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points to lead the Pacers (31-20), while Domantas Sabonis had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
With history on the line, the game and the Scotiabank Arena crowd had a post-season feeling. Toronto's previous 11 wins came against mostly losing teams - Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and San Antonio were the only three opponents with plus .500 records - and the Raptors knew they were in tough Wednesday.
The Pacers outscored Toronto by 25 points in the second quarter, frustrating the Raptors with their smothering defence, and when Brogdon drained a three early in the third quarter, the Pacers went up by 19 points. But the Raptors clawed their way back, pulling to within two points late in the third, and Toronto trailed just 86-82 to start the fourth.
Three consecutive threes - two by Doug McDermott and one from Sabonis - put the Pacers back up by 10. The Raptors rallied again and a Siakam dunk pulled Toronto to within two with five minutes to play. But once again, they had trouble containing Indy on the other end, and when Victor Oladipo waltzed in for a basket, then Brogdon hit another three with 3:50 to play, the Pacers were back up by 11.
A Lowry three-pointer and a Siakam free throw sliced the deficit to four with 1:15 to play. Nine seconds later, Siakam stole the ball off Brogdon and his layup made it a two-point game.February 6, 2020
Then with 30 seconds to play, and the crowd holding its collective breath, Ibaka drained the game-winning three-pointer.
The Raptors had won 11 games in a row three times, previously from Feb. 26 to March 16, 2018 and Jan. 6-30, 2016.
The Raptors' streak is one of the longest in Toronto sports history. The Toronto Blue Jays won 11 in a row five times. The Maple Leafs' longest win streak is 10 games in 1993. The Argonauts won 10 straight in 1997. And the Toronto Wolfpack, the city's trans-Atlantic rugby league team, saw its 23-game win streak end last weekend.
The game was the last before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Raptors coach Nick Nurse was asked whether he'll breathe easier after that time Thursday.
“I think it gives you a sense of like, where you're going,” Nurse said. “Where's your vision and thoughts and all that stuff take you immediately. Right now, I'm doing the best I can to coach these guys to a maximum place. And there's some long-term vision in that.
“If that gets changed at all come three o'clock tomorrow then you start planning that through and making those adjustments. And if it doesn't, then I think you really start zeroing in a little bit on on the next 30, 28, 29 whatever games it is left.”February 6, 2020
Lowry led the way with nine points in the first quarter, and the Raptors took a 30-20 lead into the second.
Oladipo's pullup jumper midway through the second capped a 33-10 Pacers' run that put the visitors up by 12. Brogdon muscled his way through the Raptors' defence for a finger roll at the buzzer sending Indy into the halftime break up 63-48.
The Raptors are in Indy to face the Pacers again on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2020.