“Our guys showed the type of guts we needed them to show,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said.
Already without forward Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley, both of whom have sore left knees, Indiana also had to make do without leading scorer and rebounder Danny Granger, who served a one-game suspension for striking Chicago’s Andres Nocioni in the face on Wednesday.
The Pacers were also without forward Shawne Williams, who did not travel to Toronto. Williams left the team for personal reasons Wednesday when a man was arrested for murder after leaving Williams’ Indianapolis home.
“We’ve dealt with that all year long,” Dunleavy said of playing short-handed. “It seems like each game there’s been somebody out, maybe more than one person in a couple of cases. It’s something we’re used to. This team will stick with it. We’ve had some tough times but we’ll stay together and fight through it.”
Toronto lost forward Chris Bosh late in the first quarter to a sore right knee. He finished with seven points and five rebounds.
“Hopefully it’s not serious because we definitely need him, his inside presence,” guard T.J. Ford said. “He’s an All-Star, so we definitely need him, especially right now.”
Ford had 15 points, but only two in the second half, and Jose Calderon finished with 13 for Toronto.
Starting in place of Granger, Rush made his first four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Pacers opened a 26-15 lead with 3:53 left in the first.
“When shots are going in, everybody is a little more relaxed,” Rush said. “We got a nice little lead up there, guys played a little bit freely and we just kept the pressure on.”
Already trailing, Toronto took another hit when Bosh left with 2:23 remaining in the first. Bosh, who battled a sore left knee in the preseason, tweaked his right knee in Monday’s win at Indianapolis and felt sore again following Wednesday’s home win over Minnesota. When the pain persisted Friday, Bosh sat down to avoid further injury.
“I didn’t play that well on defense,” Bosh said. “I gave up some buckets I wouldn’t usually give up. I didn’t feel that I would be effective out there.”
An MRI of Bosh’s knee revealed no structural damage, only minor swelling, leaving Bosh optimistic that he’d be healthy for Toronto’s coming road trip to Charlotte, Orlando and Miami.
“I think I know my body now,” he said. “I’ve had things similar to this. I know if I take care of it, I’ll be fine.”
With Bosh out, Toronto went small, playing guards Calderon and Ford together for most of the second. Ford had 11 points in the quarter as the Raptors cut the deficit to 61-54 at the break.
Toronto kept coming in the third, closing to 74-73 on a 3-pointer from Parker. But after Travis Diener hit a jumper, Dunleavy scored Indiana’s next 11 points as the Pacers took an 89-81 edge into the fourth.
“Mike got on a roll in that third quarter,” Diener said. “They cut it to one and luckily for us they couldn’t get over that hump.”
Marquis Daniels finished with 12 points, while Diener had 10.
The Raptors have hired former NBA coach John Lucas as a basketball development consultant for the remainder of the 2007-08 season. Lucas is not a member of the coaching staff, but will continue to perform conditioning work with Ford, who has been limited to 26 games this season because of injuries.