May 2, 2016 12:31 AM
DeRozan has 30 points, Raptors beat Pacers 89-84 in Game 7
The Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) DeMar DeRozan pushed the Toronto Raptors into the second round finally.
DeRozan scored 30 points and Toronto beat the Indiana Pacers 89-84 on Sunday night in Game 7 to advance to face Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Raptors won a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history.
"We got the monkey off our back, more than anything, from these past couple of years," DeRozan said. It just feels good to get that off."
The Raptors won their first postseason series since a five-game triumph over the New York Knicks in 2001, ending the NBA's longest active drought between series victories. Toronto lost in the first round the previous two seasons, including a Game 7 loss to Brooklyn in 2014 and a sweep to Washington last year.
Jonas Valanciunas had 15 rebounds and 10 points, Rookie Norman Powell added 13 points, and Kyle Lowry had 11 for Toronto, set to open at home against the Heat on Tuesday night.
DeRozan, who struggled with his shooting throughout the series, was 10 of 32 in Game 7.
"He was huge," coach Dwane Casey said. "I thought he got his swagger back, his rhythm back a little bit."
Paul George led Indiana with 26 points and 12 rebounds, George Hill added 19 points, and Monta Ellis had 15.
George called DeRozan, a fellow All-Star and teammate with the U.S. national team, "a special player."
"Regardless of his struggling to shoot in this series, he's special," George said. "He's still probably one of the most poised and under-control players I've guarded."
George, whose strong performances helped carry seventh-seeded Indiana into Game 7, made just two of eight attempts in the second half and admitted afterward to being tired.
"I ran out of gas a little bit," he said. "I'm not going to try and sit here and be Superman. I definitely was winded late in the game."
Toronto nearly ran out of gas, too, scoring just 11 points in the final quarter and watching as the Pacers whittled a 16-point deficit down to three in the final few minutes.
"We stunk it up in the fourth quarter," Casey said. "It wasn't pretty, believe me, but our defense carried us down the stretch."
Up 78-64 after three, the Raptors didn't make their first basket of the fourth until a 3 by Powell at 8:19. Joseph followed with a pullup jumper to make it 81-67, leading to an Indiana timeout.
The Pacers responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points, cutting it to 85-79 with 3:23 remaining. Indiana cut it to three at 85-82 on Ellis' 3-pointer with 2:37 left, but Lowry answered with a driving layup.
George made a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left to pull Indiana within three again at 87-84. After DeRozan missed a 3-pointer, Solomon Hill grabbed the rebound and Indiana called a timeout to draw up a play for George, but he turned the ball over. DeRozan made the steal, then got fouled at the other end and made both with 6.5 seconds left, giving the Raptors an 89-84 lead.
George missed a 3 with 3.9 seconds left, Biyombo grabbed the rebound and Lowry heaved the ball to the other end of the court as time expired, sending Toronto into the second round.
Casey expects a big challenge trying to contain Miami's Dwyane Wade. "We've kind of been watching them out of one side of our eye," Casey said. "(Wade) is back to being a young guy."
Blue Jays players Jose Bautista and Marcus Stroman arrived for the second half after flying home from their victory at Tampa Bay earlier Sunday. AL MVP Josh Donaldson also made it to the game, tweeting a photo of his view from a suite.
Pacers: George made all six of his free throws. Ty Lawson (1 for 2) was the only other Indiana player to go to the line.
Raptors: Toronto is 1-2 in Game 7s. The Raptors lost by one point to Philadelphia in the conference semifinals in 2001, and by one to Brooklyn in the first round in 2014. ... Toronto had a 49-38 edge in rebounds, the first time in four games the Raptors won the battle of the boards. ... The Raptors made nine turnovers to Indiana's 15.