With just over six minutes to go in the fourth quarter – and his team down 92-90 in a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday – Raptors rookie guard Norman Powell stole a pass, beat every Pacer down the floor and threw home a thunderous dunk to tie the game and send the Air Canada Centre faithful into a frenzy.
There was still plenty of time left in the game, of course, but that was the turning point. No question about it.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Powell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s something that I dreamed of as a little kid, watching Kobe, watching Tracy McGrady and all those guys in those moments. I just wanted to be a part of that and make winning plays and have the crowd go crazy, have my teammates get hyped. I was just thinking about that. I knew it was going to be a big play.”
It was, especially considering that the Raptors trailed the Pacers by 15 points entering the second quarter and by 13 entering the fourth. In fact, Toronto outscored Indiana 25-9 in the final frame to squeeze out a 102-99 win and take a 3-2 series lead.
“It was the way we came out, being really physical and bringing energy,” Powell said of the wild and crazy fourth quarter. “That’s what was going to win this game and one thing that this team did a great job of tonight, believing in one another even when we were down big. We were going to win. We were going to find a way, we’re going to fight, battle, claw and pull it out – and that’s what happened in the fourth quarter. We were really trusting one another and giving more effort on defense, which gave us a chance to win.”
The Raptors, who ended the game on a 27-7 run, got a team-high 34 points from DeMar DeRozan, who helped offset a game-high 39 points from Paul George. Five Raptors finished in double figures, including Kyle Lowry, who scored 14, Jonas Valanciunas, who scored 11, and Bismack Biyombo, who scored 10.
The series, which has been easily the best of the first round, shifts back to Indianapolis for Game 6 on Friday.
“We know it’s going to be a battle,” said Powell, who scored 10 points Tuesday. “It’s going to be a war. It’s going to be hard-fought, especially for Game 6. We’re going into hostile territory. We’re going to have to trust and rely on everybody and be physical, just try to close it out and get one more win and not take our foot off the pedal yet.”