TORONTO - A tough week ended for the Toronto Raptors with an air ball, a heart-breaking loss and a head coach taking the blame.
With the Indiana Pacers up 93-90, Toronto backup centre Jamaal Magloire went to the free-throw line with a chance to cut the lead in the final 14 seconds.
Instead, Magloire missed both shots, including one on an ugly air ball that drew boos from the crowd, and had Raptors head coach Dwane Casey putting himself in the firing line after the 95-90 loss Friday.
"It's on me. I take full blame for that," said Casey, who said he should have had Ed Davis on the ball in the situation. "I should have had the flip-flop. I don't think they were intentionally trying to foul. But it happened, I should not have had him handling the ball. ... That's a rookie, not a rookie coach, but that's my mistake."
The foul by Indiana's David West that put Magloire on the free-throw line at a critical moment wasn't intentional, and even West was surprised at who had the ball.
"We said we needed to foul if they got late in the clock, but that was pretty early for him to catch that basketball," said West. "I was just trying to make a play on the ball, be overly aggressive. ... We didn't expect him to have the ball in his hands that moment."
Neither team led by more than two points in the fourth until West's free throw gave Indiana a 91-90 lead. West missed the second shot from the line, but Tyler Hansbrough added two more points after he was fouled grabbing the rebound.
That led to Magloire's free-throw attempts, and after the game the sombre Toronto native wouldn't let Casey take the blame for his missed shots.
"I think that I've been playing this game long enough that I let the team down and I can be accountable as a man and say that I could have did a better job at the free-throw line and as a result we didn't win the game," said Magliore.
The defeat was the Raptors' third in a row during an ugly week that saw them play four games in five nights. But Toronto hardly looked fatigued, and held the lead until the end of the third quarter while also leading the Pacers (8-3) by as many as 16 points in the first half.
Playing without injured star Andrea Bargnani, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan led (4-8) with 23 points, Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to chip in 20 and Jose Calderon added 15 points and nine assists.
Indiana (8-3) meanwhile had to play without star Danny Granger, who was ejected on his second technical foul with 29 seconds left in the second quarter after bumping Davis to the hardwood. Granger stared down Davis and was tossed for it.
Granger left with just four points and one rebound, but the Pacers rallied behind George Hill, who scored 22 points off the bench. Indiana's Roy Hibbert had 15 points and nine rebounds while West and Hansbrough each scored 13.
Granger didn't speak to media after the game, but Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said he was pleased with the way his team responded to the ejection.
"(Toronto is) a tough team to score against," said Vogel. "Hats off to those guys. I'm proud of our guys for grinding out a game that really didn't go our way."
The Raptors looked to DeRozan to fill the scoring void left by Bargnani, who suffered a strained left calf Wednesday against Sacramento. DeRozan answered the call early with 14 points in the first quarter, but cooled off as the game turned in Indiana's favour.
Casey defended DeRozan by pointing to the Pacers' defensive adjustments, while DeRozan added he was trying to play aggressive in Bargnani's absence.
"Things change. You can't stay hot for the whole 48 minutes," said DeRozan. "You got to learn to do other things, rebound, defend, do things like that and try to get your teammates involved. So, it's not really a bad thing. I kind of look at it as a positive."
James Johnson's alley-oop dunk gave Toronto a 16-point lead in the second, forcing the Pacers to call a timeout to regroup. The breather worked, and Indiana scored eight unanswered points to cut the lead to 40-32, but their momentum was once again hampered by Granger's ejection and trailed Toronto 45-40 at the half.
Calderon's three-pointer with just over five minutes left in the third put the Raptors back up by 10 points, but the Pacers chipped away at the deficit and a driving lay-up by Paul George tied the game at 65 heading into the fourth.
Notes: Attendance was 15,302. ... Bargnani remains day-to-day while the team waits for the results from an MRI. "He's disappointed," said Casey. "He had a good run going. But hopefully he can come back and be full strength after that. So we'll see how he bounces back because to me he was playing at all-star level and putting up big numbers, not only offensively but his numbers were off the chart defensively too." ... Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless also remains day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. ... The Raptors lost their home opener to the Pacers 90-85 on Dec. 28. ... Indiana was missing forward-centre Jeff Foster, who was day-to-day with a sore lower back. ... Toronto visits Chicago on Saturday before games at Atlanta and Boston next week.