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Raptors 95, Pacers 82

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TORONTO - The Raptors are on a roll but coach Dwane Casey said this Toronto team remains a work in progress with plenty of room for improvement.

Guard DeMar DeRozan scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter on Wednesday and the Raptors extended their winning streak to a season-best four games with a 95-82 victory over the Indiana Pacers. The loss snapped Indiana's five-game winning string snapped.

Confidence is on the rise for the Raptors.

"It should be but that doesn't mean we've won a championship or anything, we're still growing," Casey said. "We've still got a young team in that locker room. Their age hasn't changed. We're excited, we happy, but we still have to pay attention to detail and continue to grow and get better."

Forward/guard Terrence Ross added 18 points for the Raptors (15-15). Guard Kyle Lowry had 13 points and a season-best 14 assists for Toronto, and center Jonas Valanciunas added 13 points and nine rebounds.

The Raptors turned 22 Pacers' turnovers into 32 points and made 20 of 23 free throws.

"Give the Raptors credit, they played a better basketball game," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We were obviously too careless with our turnovers and too careless with our fouling. Both of those areas were costly."

Center Roy Hibbert led Indiana (25-6) with 16 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

"Roy playing only 21 minutes was a big factor," Vogel said. "He's a big part of what we do, the anchor of our defense, low-post threat."

Forward Paul George added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers. Forward Danny Granger had 11 points off the bench, and forward David West contributed nine points and seven rebounds.

The Raptors were able to match the Pacers' physical game.

"Everybody in this locker room is pretty tough," Lowry said. "We just played, we played our game of basketball that we're trying to build ourselves. That's a team that does that. They are very physical and we had to meet that physicality tonight."

"They got the 50-50 balls more than we did tonight and they made us foul a lot more than we usually do and they turned us over more," Pacers guard George Hill said. "We're normally a team that hits first, a smash-mouth team and they came in off the pressure and turned us over more than we normally turn it over and they initiated it."

Toronto took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Indiana led by one point when Hibbert picked up his fifth foul with 10:32 to play and went to the bench.

Guard Greivis Vasquez gave the Raptors a two-point lead with a 3-pointer, and Toronto pushed the lead to six when DeRozan made two free throws with 5:23 left.

When DeRozan made a jumper with 4:22 left, the Raptors led 84-75. Hibbert was back in the game by then, but he fouled out with 3:25 to play. Lowry's uncontested layup after Hill's turnover gave Toronto an 11-point lead with 2:54 to play.

"We didn't get the whistles that we would have wanted but it doesn't go your way sometimes," Hibbert said. "We beat ourselves, we turned the ball over and weren't doing out defensive assignments. They were the better team tonight."

Toronto outscored Indiana 55-38 in the second half.

The Pacers stretched their four-point halftime advantage to eight with 7:07 left in the third quarter on a turnaround jumper by Hibbert. The Pacers led by five when Hibbert picked up fourth foul with 4:56 to play in the third and took a seat.

The Raptors closed out the quarter with an 11-3 run, with guard/forward John Salmons hitting a 3-pointer to give Toronto the 66-63 lead that it took into the fourth quarter.

The Pacers trailed by eight after the opening quarter, but a 3-pointer by Granger capped a 10-0 run that gave them a 33-32 lead with 4:44 left in the half. With the game tied at 40, Granger hit two free throws and center Ian Mahinmi scored on a layup to give the Pacers a 44-40 lead at the half.

Ross scored seven points and Lowry had seven assists and five points in a first quarter that ended with Toronto leading 26-18. Hibbert scored 10 points in the first quarter.

"Everybody is playing for everybody," Ross said. "Everybody has the same goal. We're all on the same page and that's why we're getting better. "

"It's another step in their growth," Casey said. "I thought our guys battled against one of the best teams in the league. They've been there and have a lot of all-star players but our guys battled and came in hungry and executed the game plan for 48 minutes."

NOTES: The Raptors played a home game on New Year's Day for the first time in franchise history. ... Toronto's current starting five of G DeMar DeRozan (19.6 points a game), G Kyle Lowry (18.3), F Amir Johnson (13.8), C Jonas Valanciunas (12.4) and F Terrence Ross (11.6) each averaged double-figure scoring in December. The Raptors had three double-figure scorers in November (DeRozan, Lowry and F Rudy Gay, who was traded on Dec. 9). ... The Pacers defeated the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 91-76 Tuesday, giving them an NBA-best 15-1 home record. ... The Pacers won their first meeting with the Raptors, 91-84, on Nov. 8 in Indianapolis. ... The Raptors visit the Washington Wizards on Friday. The Pacers play host to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
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