Toronto coach Nick Nurse keeps imploring the defending NBA champions to fix their flaws.
The bigger challenge, right now, might be identifying those errors.
Two days after rallying from a 19-point deficit to extend their franchise-record winning streak, the short-handed Raptors used another late charge to pull away from Indiana 115-106 on Friday night for their 13th consecutive victory.
“I thought we were into it the whole 48 minutes,” Nurse said. “I thought we were playing well enough to maybe get away. You know how those games come down to somebody hits a couple at one end, somebody misses a couple at the other and all of a sudden the game’s over.”
WATCH | Lowry’s injury mars Raptors’ win over Pacers:
Lately, the Raptors seem to have had all the answers.
They’ve won without Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, two key players who are injured. They won Wednesday when it looked as though they didn’t have a chance. And this time, they delivered the decisive final flurry without six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry.
Lowry missed the final 14 ½ minutes with what Nurse described as a whiplash injury.
And yet, the Raptors still managed to beat the Pacers for the second time in three days, win their first game in Indianapolis in 13 months and head home with their 10th consecutive road victory.
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“We just won the previous game when they were up, just like this,” Terence Davis II said after scoring 17. “We didn’t want to make the same mistake.”
Instead, Serge Ibaka scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Raptors keep their perfect mark intact for at least one more day. Fred VanVleet added 20 points and seven assists for Toronto, which hasn’t lost since Jan. 15.
For the Pacers, it was another excruciating loss.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Pacers, and Victor Oladipo added 15 points and four assists in his first home start since returning from an injured right knee.
Indiana has lost a season-high four in a row, three of those coming on their home court.
“Once again, they just killed us in transition with 27 fast-break points,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We’ve just got to do a better job taking care of the ball, a better job executing our offence and really playing both sides of the basketball.”
Toronto finally broke it open late in the third quarter when they turned a 12-3 run into an 87-78 lead. But when Lowry left with 2:42 to go, the Pacers closed out the quarter with five straight points, cutting the deficit to four.
The Pacers got as close as 101-99 with 6:47 left before Davis scored seven points in a 12-4 spurt that gave Toronto an insurmountable 113-103 lead with 1:48 to go.
Lowry finished with 16 points and 11 assists in 28 minutes but did not return after colliding with Ibaka.
Replays appeared to show Lowry’s head making contact near Ibaka’s hip as he fell to the floor after drawing a foul. Lowry remained down on the court for several minutes as teammates gathered round. Eventually, he got up and walked to the bench before heading to the locker room.
He did not talk to reporters following the game, though he complained of soreness in his neck and right shoulder and moved stiffly around the locker room.
Nurse said he didn’t expect Lowry to play Saturday night against Brooklyn.