SPORTS

Williams scores 26 points to lead Raptors to 106-94 win over Pacers

12/12/2014 10:08 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - When Lou Williams wasn't knocking down three-pointers, he was taking charges, and doling out assists.

The Raptors guard scored 26 points Friday to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 106-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers — leading another standout performance from Toronto's bench, and filling a void in the absence of injured all-star DeMar DeRozan.

"We've got a lot of guys who could start on other teams, (but) we've accepted the roles of being backups and guys coming off the bench, and we take pride in that," Williams said. "We take pride in that we know we're going to come into the game, we know we're going to change the pace of the game."

Williams, who shot 5-for-7 from three-point range, led a Raptors bench that outscored its visitors 64-45, with James Johnson scoring 13, Patrick Patterson chipping in with 11, and Greivis Vasquez adding 10.

"We feel like we have one of the best benches in the league. We have the sixth man of the year, in my opinion, in Lou Williams," Patterson said. "Tonight was probably one of the best games I've seen from Lou. He was all over the court tonight on offence and defence, taking charges, running people off the line, challenging shots."

Jonas Valanciunas finished with 10 points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds for Toronto (17-6), which was playing its seventh game without DeRozan (torn groin tendon). The Raptors are 4-3 without him.

The game marked the Raptors' first of six in a row against teams with losing records, a welcome relief after Tuesday's 105-101 loss at Cleveland — their second defeat in five days to the Cavs.

The Raptors led virtually from the opening whistle, and were up by as many as 13 points before taking an 80-72 lead into the fourth in front of another capacity crowd of 19,800 — the Raptors' 10th consecutive sellout — at the Air Canada Centre.

The bench trio of Williams, Vasquez and Johnson lit it up early in the fourth, and a driving slam dunk from Johnson had the Raptors up by 19 points. The Pacers pulled to within 14 with 2:39 to play, but Williams calmly drilled another three coming out of a timeout, putting the Raptors up by 17 and the game, out of reach.

In what has turned into one of most profitable acquisitions of the off-season, the Raptors acquired the veteran guard and Lucas Nogueira from Atlanta in exchange for John Salmons. Williams was coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, slowed by ACL recovery.

He's scored 20-plus points in five games — all wins — this season.

"When Lou is out there and he's playing like that, it's a heck of a show to watch," said point guard Kyle Lowry. "We (starters) got a chance to rest tonight and it was very good. Lou played well, G. (Vasquez) played well, J.J. (Johnson) played well. When those guys come in and give us that type of lift, it's always fortunate for us to be able to kind of relax when those guys take over."

The Pacers were No. 2 in the league in rebounding coming into the game, providing Toronto with what coach Dwane Casey had said would be a "huge" test. Rebounding has been the Raptors' one big inconsistency this season.

Mission accomplished: the Raptors outrebounded their visitors 52-39.

"That was one of our main points of emphasis going into the game," Casey said. "To outrebound a team like Indiana. . . who are a very physical and paint-oriented team, my hat is off to our guys because that's what we've been preaching."

Solomon Hill scored 16 points to top the Pacers (7-16) in their seventh straight loss — Indiana's longest losing skid in five seasons.

"Their bench outplayed our bench," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "We didn't account for Lou Williams. Lou Williams I thought was a big difference."

Landry Fields started in place of DeRozan, and led the way in a first quarter that saw the Raptors lead by nine. They took a 28-20 advantage into the second.

Williams drained three of four three-point attempts for 12 points in the second quarter, and the Raptors went ahead by 13 points on an alley-oop layup from Amir Johnson with 4:28 left in the half. They took a 53-42 advantage into the break.

The Pacers shot 54 per cent in the third, outscoring Toronto 30-27 in the frame to pull to within four points. But Toronto was up by eight heading into the final 12 minutes.

NOTES: The Raptors are in New York to face the Knicks on Sunday, then return home to host the Orlando Magic on Monday, and the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. . . Former Toronto Maple Leaf Wendel Clark had a courtside seat. . . The Raptors won two of three meetings with Indiana last season.

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