Raps dig deep into the bank to gut one in Indy

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It wasn’t the prettiest basketball game, but whatever the programming denied paying customers, the Raptors tried to give back with determination and determination.

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The visitors had a lot of both to overcome a bad night of shooting and those heavy legs to pull off a 97-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

It was the second victory for the Raptors in which the Raptors held on for a lifetime, but a victory nonetheless, as the Raptors topped .500 for the first time this season with a 4-3 record.

The Raptors were led by Scottie Barnes with 21 points and 12 rebounds, including two last minute free throws to give the Raps some breathing room. However, the prized rookie also ended the game in some pain. His right hand or thumb seemed to have taken a hit in the last few seconds and Barnes was visibly wincing when the game ended.

Both teams were one behind the other and the effects were obvious.

While the Pacers benefited from the return to the court of Caris LeVert, who had been out with a back injury and had not played and thus brought fresh legs, the Raptors had to look for that momentum on their bench.

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They found him in the first half at Svi Mykhailiuk. The young, but well-traveled 24-year-old has more to his games than many probably realized and put a bit of everything on display in that second quarter, finishing the first half with 11 points, the most for the Raptors.

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Mykhailiuk went behind him in traffic, changed hands in midair on the way ending with his left hand. It was unmissable entertainment, particularly in that second quarter when the Raptors needed it most.

Without their contributions and magic, the Raptors don’t reach the second half with a single point.

But where LeVert had a minute restriction and used all those minutes in the first half or possibly had that back pain, Mykhailiuk had no such limitations.

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LeVert did not return to the court in the second half as Mykhailiuk continued to contribute.

He would finish with 16 points, two assists and four rebounds in his best game in a Raptors uniform, but a far cry from his career-high 25 points that he set last season in a Pistons uniform.

OUTSIDE THE HOUSE OF THE DOG

Chris Boucher was publicly criticized by his coach a few nights ago for not living up to the player he can be. Two games later, it appears that Boucher got the message and made the necessary corrections.

“I thought he had great speed, he just rushed to make some plays defensively, he obviously got his shot right,” Nurse said before the Raptors took the court last night in Indianapolis. “I thought he was getting close to looking like the Chris we’re used to seeing, which is great. I think it will keep getting better from there. I really thought he had a good game last night. “

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Boucher is number 4 on this team in terms of experience within the system behind Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Nurse saw him take a big leap a year ago in Tampa and needs to see him continue to make those strides.

“Chris is an important player for us,” Nurse said. “He’s one of these guys that has been proving that he can make a difference and a kind of x-factor type and he’s been proving it for a while. “We’ve been getting a bit lost,” Nurse said. “So it’s good that he’s back in his rhythm and he’s a great playmaker. Block shots, block three point attempts, hit a three and maybe chain a couple in a row, get a tip dunk. He makes strong plays and sometimes those can give us a spark and (give) some boost. “

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE SECOND UNIT

The easy answer to how much Nurse and the Raptors can depend on their second unit won’t come until Siakam returns.

Until then, we won’t really know who is in that second unit.

Will Gary Trent Jr. come out of the top five to join the backup pool? Maybe it’s Precious Achiuwa?

For two games, however, Nurse has liked what he has seen from his bench. But the touch-up process is ongoing. Is Goran Dragic really going to go to waste on the end of the bank until this team moves or buys him? That is not an efficient use of an asset.

Regardless, Nurse knows that while he has found decent chemistry in the Canadian trio of Dalano Banton, Boucher and Khem Birch who has been pitching late in the first quarter and starting the second, he is far from done experimenting.

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Besides Dragic, Nurse has Malachi Flynn to add to that group should he choose, as well as Sam Dekker or even Justin Champagnie who looked so good in the preseason.

“It’s been a little better the last two games, but I wouldn’t bet on a two-game sample right now,” Nurse said. “But hopefully, hopefully, it’s something we can build on…. It looks like there will probably be more experiments and tweaks that will happen and depending on who we play and the situations that will change those things. So we’ve tweaked a lot here early in the season and I guess we haven’t done it yet. “

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