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Pacers' Hill scores winner in closing seconds

The Associated Press
Pacers' Hill scores winner in closing seconds

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Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani, right, drives past Indiana Pacers forward Ian Mahinmi, left, …

TORONTO (AP) -- With a tireless effort, and a fantastic fourth quarter, George Hill and the Indiana Pacers pulled out an impressive opening-night win.

Hill scored the go-ahead basket with two seconds left, completing Indiana's rally in a 90-88 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

''They brought it harder, but we brought it longer,'' Hill said. ''That's something that Coach has been talking about. We lost on that first stat of bringing it harder, but we won on the second one, playing longer and grinding it out.''

David West scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Paul George had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed 84-74 with just under six minutes to play. Roy Hibbert added 14 points for Indiana.

''David put us on his shoulders in the fourth quarter, at both ends of the court, and just carried us,'' Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ''This victory is squarely on his shoulders.''

West said his shot got better and better as the Pacers fought back.

''As the game got tighter I felt like I was getting loose,'' West said. ''The game slowed down a little bit and I was able to get some good looks.''

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 21 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his NBA debut. Andrea Bargnani had 16 points, and Jose Calderon added 15 for the Raptors.

West scored on back-to-back possessions to make it 84-78 with 4:47 left and, following a layup by Lowry, converted a jump hook. Hill made a 3-pointer, and West followed with a turnaround bank shot to cut it to 86-85 with 2:38 remaining.

Lowry made two shots from the foul line, but West then hit an open jumper. Hill tied it at 88 with 59 seconds left by making one of two free throws.

After DeMar DeRozan missed a layup, Hill misfired on a jumper at the other end, and the ball was knocked out of bounds. After checking the replay, the officials gave the ball to Indiana. Hill let the clock wind down before driving for the go-ahead hook shot.

''The opportunity was there for me to get in the paint and be aggressive, and I took that,'' Hill said. ''I'm not scared to take shots like that, I live for things like that. Those were the things I did at the park growing up as a kid, counting down and trying to hit game-winning shots.''

The Raptors gave the ball to Bargnani, but his jump shot came up short as the game ended, silencing the capacity crowd of 19,800 and spoiling Toronto's opening night.

Indiana won 42 games last season, the fifth-best record in the NBA's lockout-shortened season. That success has bred a new attitude, Hill said.

''Even when we were down, during timeouts you still heard players yelling, 'We're still going to win this game. We've been here before. Let's keep grinding it out,''' Hill said.

Hill started for Indiana despite missing the entire preseason because of a left thumb injury and a right hip pointer. He finished with eight points, six coming in the final 3:16.

''George Hill and David West are beasts at their positions,'' Vogel said. ''They both have great size for their position, and toughness.''

DeRozan finished with 10 points.

''There's a couple of things down the stretch that we kick ourselves in the head about,'' he said. ''We've just got to be better the next time around.''

Indiana played without forward Danny Granger, the team's leading scorer the past five seasons, who is sidelined indefinitely with soreness in his left knee. Granger is scheduled to seek a second opinion as he continues to recover from a knee injury sustained during last spring's Eastern Conference semifinals. He aggravated the injury during the preseason.

''The confidence this team has, knowing the success we had last year, we think we can win without anybody almost,'' Hill said.

George scored 10 points in the first quarter, and Hibbert had nine to help give the Pacers a 27-25 lead after the opening period. Lowry scored eight points in the second quarter, and Calderon added seven to help Toronto get into a 48-48 halftime tie.

Valanciunas had six points and six rebounds in the first six minutes of the third as Toronto used a 10-0 run to open a 64-53 lead. The Raptors carried a 71-63 lead into the fourth.

NOTES: Bargnani started for Toronto despite missing two days of practice with flu-like symptoms. ... The game featured 11 ties and 16 lead changes. ... Raptors coach Dwane Casey dropped to 3-1 in season openers. ... Toronto is 9-9 in season openers, going 6-6 at home. ... Before Valanciunas, the previous Raptors rookie to post a double-double in his debut was guard Damon Stoudamire, who did it Nov. 3, 1995, against New Jersey. ... DeRozan stood at center court to deliver a brief pregame address. ... Former Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter attended the game.

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