Cory Joseph triumphs in battle of Longhorns

Steve Helwick

When two Longhorns met in a decisive Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs, it was inevitable that one would continue the quest for a title and one would go home.

That was the scenario during Sunday night’s matchup between the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors and the No. 7 seed Indiana Pacers. The Raptors, featuring former Longhorn Cory Joseph, bested Myles Turner and the Pacers in a tightly contested 89-84 game.

Despite starting his fourth game of the series, rookie Myles Turner had seen better days. Turner struggled at the power forward position for Indiana, only scoring 4 points on a dismal 2-of-11 shooting. Turner, the third youngest player in the playoffs at 20 years old, recorded four blocks in Game 7 to increase his series average to 3.3 blocks per game. Only Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat recorded more than 23 blocks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

“Myles Turner emerged,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, according to “Myles Turner showed what he’s made of by having a great series in his first go-around in the NBA Playoffs. … There’s a lot of reason to be excited and hopeful about our future because of that kid.”

On the other side of defeat is victory, an experience Raptors point guard Cory Joseph relished after advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Joseph is the only current Longhorn in the NBA with a championship thanks to his 2014 ring earned as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

Joseph provided a spark off the bench for Toronto in this series, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 10.7 points per game. His 58.7 percent field goal percentage ranked best on the Raptors, who will face the Miami Heat in their upcoming series. Joseph displayed unyielding defense in the series, and he energized the Air Canada Centre after an emphatic block on Pacers’ Monta Ellis in Game 7.

“It’s special to me because I’m from here,” Joseph, a Toronto native, told reporters. “Whenever you come out of a nail-biter like this, it always gives you confidence. We’ve got to understand a new series is different, so we got to prepare for Miami.”