The Toronto Raptors changed their fortunes, along with their uniforms, Sunday afternoon.
Donning their St. Patrick's Day green shorts and jerseys and hoping for the luck o' the Irish, the Raptors (24-43) ended a seven-game slide with a 110-87 win over the visiting Indiana Pacers (28-39).
Toronto began the march to victory with a 14-3 run to end the first half and went to the break leading 53-50, thanks to 16 points from Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors continued their assault on the Pacers in the third quarter, extending their lead to 90-69 before the final frame.
Bargnani finished with a team-high 27 points and nine rebounds — solid numbers despite battling flu-like symptoms that kept him to just nine minutes in the Raptors' previous game, against the Detroit Pistons.
Chris Bosh had 15 points and 13 boards while Jose Calderon added 15 points and 12 assists. "We really need to take something from it," Bosh said. "This time we can take a positive from this whole game instead of trying to make something good out of a loss."
"We just needed to win," Calderon said. "We've been playing better the last couple of games and we couldn't finish. Today we played for 48 minutes and we have to keep working from here."
Newest Raptor Pops Mensah-Bonsu came off the bench to provide a career-high 21 points and eight rebounds as Toronto handed the Pacers their third straight loss and fourth in five contests. The unheralded Mensah-Bonsu had four dunks among his five baskets, went 11-for-13 from the line and added eight rebounds.
"He had the game of his life against us," Indiana swingman Danny Granger said. "Hats off to him, but we can't really let that happen."
The Pacers were led by forward Troy Murphy with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Former raptor T.J. Ford dropped in 15 points and added 11 assists.
Granger's return makes no difference
Granger returned to the court after missing 11 games because of a partially torn tendon in his right foot. Coming off the bench in Sunday's game, Granger logged more than 18 minutes and posted 10 points in his comeback.
"I played 18 minutes. I thought I had played 32," Granger said. "That's how it feels, but it will come around. It just takes a while to get back into the rhythm."
The Pacers had won six and dropped five without their star player.
With the loss, the Pacers slip to 2½ games back in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA East.
The Raptors play the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night in North Carolina while the Pacers move on to face Portland at home on Wednesday.