for this game

Bargnani, Raptors build lead Pacers can't overcome

Nov 26, 2006 - 9:05 PM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Jermaine O'Neal and the Indiana Pacers finally ran into a deficit they could not overcome.

O'Neal had a streak of four consecutive games at least 20 points snapped as the Pacers had a rough start to a six-game road trip with a 92-83 loss at the Toronto Raptors.

O'Neal finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana, which had won three of its previous four games, coming back from large deficits in each of those victories.

"It's tough playing from behind," Pacers point guard Jamaal Tinsley said. "Starting off real slow and trying to make the run at the end is starting to catch up to us. We have to figure out a way to come out and compete for 48 minutes and do it on both ends of the court."

In a 97-87 victory over Cleveland on Friday, the Pacers trailed by 16 points in the first half before O'Neal helped lead the charge by scoring 29. Indiana also faced double-digit deficits in a pair of wins over Milwaukee this past week.

Despite winning just once in their last eight games coming in, the Raptors opened strong, scoring the game's first six points and pulling ahead 46-19 with 8:22 left in the second quarter on a jumper by Jose Calderon.

Calderon matched a season high with 13 points and 2006 top pick Andrea Bargnani had 14 as the Toronto bench outscored Indiana's reserves by a 43-24 margin.

"Those four guys that came off the bench, you can't ask them to play any better," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.

"Joey (Graham), Andrea, Jose (Garbajosa) came in and played good basketball," All-Star forward Chris Bosh said. "They helped us out a lot. They did what they are supposed to do - get loose balls and get baskets."

The succession of slow starts has definitely bothered coach Rick Carlisle.

"Our undoing is the first quarter," he said. "It's been a problem for us a lot and continued to be so today ... it's hard to get out of a 15-point hole with 36 minutes to play."

O'Neal appeared to have a more definite reason for the team's struggles.

"We're not playing good defense," he said. "We don't play good defense till we get in a hole and then all of a sudden we go into lockdown mode for 8-10 minutes and then we run out of gas."

The Pacers did make a push in the third, closing within 61-57 on a driving layup by Tinsley with 3:59 to play. However, Bosh completed a three-point play and Calderon added a layup and a jumper after a basket and a free throw from Stephen Jackson to make it 68-60 with 2:19 left.

"(The Pacers) had a good third quarter, (but) after that we played good defense and kept working," Calderon said.

Indiana got no closer than eight points thereafter.

Bosh finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Garbajosa scored 13 for Toronto, which shot 44 percent (37-of-85) and collected 10 steals.

Jackson and Danny Granger scored 18 points each for the Pacers, who have lost five of their last six road games. They travel to Portland for the first of consecutive games on Tuesday.

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