Stephenson scored all 12 of his points against Toronto in the fourth quarter, when in outscored the Raptors, 31-15, capping a 68-39 second-half blitz, which included 24 from George.
The game ended with a lopsided margin of victory, but not how you would have anticipated. He wasn't the best player on the court, by any means, but his presence was a critical factor in the Pacers' 108-90 rout of the Toronto Raptors Tuesday.
So what the heck happened?
DeRozan led the Raptors with 27 points.
IN trailed by nine less than four minutes in as the slow-reacting defense allowed the Raptors to score at will. Toronto surged to a 26-18 advantage by the end of the quarter on the strength of 50 percent shooting.
With the Pacers a game and a half back of the sixth place Atlanta Hawks, there is a chance we could see the Raptors take on IN during the first round of the playoffs.
On the season, the Pacers are averaging 104.6 points, 41.9 rebounds and 22.4 assists per game. He played a significant role in holding Toronto to 36.8 percent shooting in the final 12 minutes.
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Several Pacers players after the game commented on their own that Tuesday's atmosphere, in front of 16,524, was the most alive Bankers Life Fieldhouse had been all season. "They won the game, game was over, there's a way to win".
Stephenson has a reputation of getting under opposing players' skin during games, particularly LeBron James, when he famously blew in the three-time National Basketball Association champions' face during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. This season, Stephenson has barely played-six games for the New Orleans Pelicans and six games for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"That's all 6 man, that's all 6", said Paul George, referring to Stephenson's new jersey number. DeRozan is able to feast on the IN defense, so the team needs to go to him. "I don't even know who he is", Tucker said. His box score numbers (4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) don't really do him justice. "Very excited, first game back home and I wanted to do it for the fans".
"Lance was excited and nervous in his first game back in Indianapolis, but I give it all to him tonight", George said.
The Raptors remain one of the league's hottest teams, winning eight of their last nine games.
Recently-acquired guard Lance Stephenson will come off the bench in his return to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, coach Nate McMillan said. We don't need points and normally guys hold the ball in that situation. The Pacers clawed their way to a 77-75 lead heading into the fourth despite 20 third quarter points from DeRozan. He hit a couple of early jumpers, then added a pair of 3-pointers - both quelling brief rallies by the Raptors, as the Pacers pulled away.