INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Pacers fans headed for the exits early Wednesday night.
For once, it was because their team was on the right side of a blowout. Danny Granger scored 29 points, and the Pacers had their highest point total and margin of victory this season to beat the Toronto Raptors 130-101.
The easy win was a welcome change for the Pacers, who have played the most games decided by three or fewer points of any team in the league this season.
Indiana's lead reached 41 points late in the third quarter, and that was enough to convince much of the crowd to try to beat the traffic.
"It was great, honestly," Granger said. "You never want to see the fans leave, but it's great to blow a team out. I think a bunch of us didn't even play in the fourth quarter."
Jarrett Jack added 23 points, Roy Hibbert had 17, and Troy Murphy finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Josh McRoberts had his first career double-double with career highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes.
"It's good to get the opportunity to get out there and play and be involved in a win," McRoberts said. "Obviously, you can't do that from where I sit at the end of the bench.
"And, when the opportunity presents itself, I want to get out there and do the best I can and help out."
The Pacers were still holding on to the slimmest of playoff hopes, but they will need a lot of help just to have a chance. Indiana is four games behind Detroit and Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left.
Indiana has shot better than 50 per cent in its past five games, and has won six of eight. Though the Pacers have consistently said they don't expect to make the playoffs, they have continued to play hard.
"I think we have a proud bunch of guys," Jack said. "Regardless of what the situation is, whether we're in contention or not in contention, we've got guys who each time they step on the floor, they want to represent the organization really well."
Chris Bosh had 21 points and nine rebounds in Toronto's third straight loss. Andrea Bargnani did not play because of a sore left heel.
Patrick O'Bryant got his first career start in Bargnani's place and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Though the Raptors already have been eliminated from playoff contention, their poor effort was unacceptable to coach Jay Triano.
"They made shots early and often, and we didn't provide much resistance the first three quarters," Triano said. "We need to be competitive and try to win games."
Indiana had its highest-scoring half of the season to take a 74-48 lead.
The Pacers shot 62 per cent from the field in the first 24 minutes, and 72 per cent in the second quarter. Granger had 20 points, and Murphy had 10 points and 12 rebounds at the break.
"I think our offensive efficiency was key," Granger said. "We had it going from the beginning. Our assist total was pretty high and our turnovers were low. That's always important"
The Pacers made their first five shots of the second half to take an 88-56 lead.
"Sometimes in the NBA when you get up you tend to relax a little bit," Granger said. "I think we did a good job of keeping a sense of urgency."
The Pacers scored their 100th point with 3:33 left in the third quarter and led 115-74 at the end of the period. The Pacers shot 68 per cent in the third quarter.
"It was one of those feel-good games where everybody was able to contribute and get some minutes out there," Jack said. "We haven't had too many of those this season."
It was a game Bosh would rather forget. Bosh and O'Bryant shot a combined 17-for-26 from the field, but the rest of the team shot 21-for-73.
"It's over, man," Bosh said. "The best part about it is that it's over. Doesn't matter which five we've got out there, they've got to play."
Notes: Indiana G Marquis Daniels (sprained right wrist) missed his ninth consecutive game, but coach Jim O'Brien said he wants to try to get him back on the court before season's end. ... Indiana's T.J. Ford, made expendable in Toronto last season because of Toronto point guard Jose Calderon's emergence, had 14 points and 11 assists as a reserve for the Pacers. ... Murphy became the third player in the Pacers' NBA history with 800 or more rebounds in a season.
- Labrador retriever fetches top U.S. dog breed honor for record 28th year7 Pictures
- Oscars 2019: Red carpet looks and full list of winners36 Pictures