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Photo from NBA.com.

The last time that I went to an NBA game was when the Grizzlies were based in Vancouver. That was way back in the mid-1990’s. I don’t remember who I was with or what year I went to the game, but I do remember sitting court-side (within the first 10 rows) and seeing the intense look on Patrick Ewing’s face as he led the Knicks to a win. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies franchise did not last long and the team relocated to Tennessee. The other Canadian team that started at the same time as the Vancouver Grizzlies, but managed to remain stable is the Toronto Raptors, the only Canadian team in the NBA today.

I thought that Friday night would be a good opportunity to go to an Indianapolis Pacers game to watch them play on home turf against the visiting Toronto Raptors. To tell you the truth, I do not follow the NBA, especially since Vancouver does not have a team, but I have an appreciation for the game.

Based on some stats, I really thought that the Pacers were going to have an easy win. The Pacers had a record of 31 wins and 19 losses and the Raptors had a nearly opposite record of 17 and 32. The Pacers were on a winning streak of 15 games on home turf while the Raptors were on a 3-game losing streak. Plus there was the support from Pacer Nation–I think that I was the only person who was (secretly) cheering for the Raptors (I was surrounded by Pacers fans, including B.B.). It looked like it was going to be a cake-walk. B.B. was pretty confident that the Pacers were going to win. I was rooting for the Raptors, the Canadian team and the seemingly underdogs of the NBA, possibly one of the worst teams in the league. The Pacers pretty much led the game, and B.B. would tease me and say, “Are you nervous, yet?” but things started to change in the fourth quarter.

Although the Pacers led throughout the game, and at one point had a 9-point lead, the Raptors came back, caught up, and managed to close the gap. With 10.7 seconds left in the final quarter, the Pacers led 90-86 and it looked like they had it in the bag. However, the Raptors managed to score another basket after Rudy Gay missed a layup but his teammate, Amir Johnson backed him up by tipping it in to make the score 90-88 with 6.1 seconds left on the clock. Rudy Gay also made a critical steal and Amir Johnson cleared the shot before the buzzer went off to force the game into overtime (officials reviewed the play for about 5 minutes before determining that the ball indeed left Amir’s hand before the clock hit zero).

In overtime, the Raptors started out strong and took the lead. In the last 30 seconds, the game was tied at 98. As demonstrated by the Raptors, a lot can happen in the dying seconds of a game. The Pacers were obviously nervous and so were the fans. There were 5 time outs in the remaining 30 seconds. In the few seconds of the game, Rudy Gay made a 15-foot shot and put the Raptors ahead 100-98. The Pacers had a chance to tie the game with Paul George attempting a 17-foot shot. It was like a scene from a movie. The fans were hopeful, the ball circled around the rim, but never made it through the hoop. The Raptors won the game and the crowd was stunned.

It was a great win for the Raptors! (Although to tell you the truth, if the Pacers had won, I would have been happy for them, too). But the Raptors played a more consistent game and played strong when it counted. The recently traded forward, Rudy Gay, made the difference in the game (ironically, he started his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies). The Raptors are the only team to beat the Pacers twice on their home court during the season. Blame it on their grueling schedule (4 games in 5 nights), but the Pacers really should have had this game. They just couldn’t seal the deal.

It was the best $38 that I have ever spent on a game!