TORONTO (AP)—Raptors forward Jermaine O’Neal scooped up the game ball as the final buzzer sounded, not to remember a victory over Indiana, his former team, but to give new coach Jay Triano a memento from his first win.
“That was very important,” said O’Neal, who scored 10 points. “Sometimes when you lose four or five games in a row you lose confidence as a team. Our team, you could kind of tell it was wavering a little bit. We were trying, it just wasn’t happening. Now we can build off this. It’s a little bit different building off a win than building off a loss.”
The victory was Toronto’s first in four tries since Triano took over for the fired Sam Mitchell on Dec. 3.
“I’m really happy for our guys because they’ve tried to adjust and make changes to what they’ve been doing,” Triano said. “I think we’re slowly getting there.”
Starting in place of the injured Anthony Parker, Kapono went 11-for-16 and made three 3-pointers.
“That was a heck of a shooting exhibition by him,” Indiana’s Troy Murphy said.
Jamario Moon also had a season high with 17 points for Toronto, including a putback dunk on O’Neal’s miss in the third quarter. Joey Graham had 12 points, and Jose Calderon added 11 points and 14 assists.
“Their perimeter guys outplayed out perimeter guys by a huge margin,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “Certainly, Kapono got hot early, but I think their perimeter guys just murdered our perimeter guys.”
“Right now it’s tough because everybody is trying, it’s just not clicking,” guard T.J. Ford said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what it’s going to take.”
It was the first meeting between the teams since a six-player trade in June that saw O’Neal join Toronto in exchange for Ford and Rasho Nesterovic.
Ford, who received a mixture of cheers and boos during pregame introductions, was held to four points before being replaced by Jarrett Jack with just over 5 minutes remaining.
“They were determined not to let me come in here and get a win,” Ford said. “They played with a lot of energy and we just couldn’t match it.”
O’Neal said he was conscious of not letting his Indiana past interfere with his preparation.
“You just try to keep your friendships for after the game and don’t talk about too much other stuff before the game,” O’Neal said. “You don’t want to do anything that softens you up and takes your focus off the game and the tasks you have to do for your team.”
A six-time All-Star in his eight seasons with the Pacers, O’Neal didn’t get the chance to make an immediate impact. He was called for two fouls in the first 65 seconds, then spent the next 8 minutes on the bench.
“I couldn’t have picked a worse case scenario for myself,” O’Neal said.
But his hook shot with 9:33 left in the fourth started a 9-0 run that gave Toronto an 88-70 edge, putting the game out of reach.
The teams were tied at 36 with 6:17 left in the first half, but Kapono scored five of his nine second quarter points as the Raptors pulled away with an 11-0 run. Bosh, who also had nine points in the second, made a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to give Toronto a 51-45 lead at the break.
Parker did not play because of a sprained left ankle, ending his consecutive games streak at 103.
Parker, averaging 10.2 points and 2.9 rebounds this season, last missed a game April 17, 2007, at Detroit.
The game marked the first time in six games the Pacers’ opponent did not lead its division. Indiana’s previous five games were against Orlando, Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland and Boston again. … Calderon broke Chauncey Billups’ Toronto record of 51 consecutive successful free throws. Calderon went 4-for-4 from the line, extending his streak to 55. … Kapono scored a career-high 29 points against Indiana on Dec. 14, 2007. … Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch attended the game.