The Q4 jinx which has bedevilled Toronto all season was on full display again last night in Detroit. The Raptors, who had twice punched back from 13-point deficits, had a 5-point lead with 4:31 to play, & a 3-point lead with 43 seconds remaining. Tayshaun Prince, a thorn in the side all game, hit a hook shot, & the Raps missed. Brandon Knight split 2 defenders to score a driving layup with 7 seconds to play. The Raps, with no timeouts remaining, raced up the floor, but Kyle Lowry’s off-balance jumper hit back iron. A second straight one-point loss was in the books.
The Raptors were fortunate to be in this game, following their shockingly poor first half. The only Rap who showed up ready to play was Andrea Bargnani, the rest were sleepwalkers. Starting guards Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan had 1 basket each after 2Qs. Jose Calderon hadn’t scored, likewise Dominic McGuire & Terrence Ross. The Raps’ smaller men were taking difficult jumpers, with predictably poor results. Ed Davis, his career advancing by baby steps, collected deuces in buckets, boards & blocks, & Amir Johnson chipped in 5 points. Mirabile dictu, AB poured in 21, on his way to a game- & season-high 34. Jonas Valanciunas used his expanding assortment of ball fakes & jab steps to score several tough baskets against the imposing Detroit front court of Greg Monroe & Andre Drummond. Those two big Pistons were also getting free under the Raps’ basket for easy hoops. The Pistons background struggled to score; I can’t recall a half in which both teams’ guards played so dismally.
The Pistons should have buried the Raps early in Q3, following an 11-0 run ended by a Knight 3-ball. However, Bargnani’s mates recovered somewhat from their collective funk, particularly Lowry, who buried a pair of 3s on his way to 19 points. However, he was 6/17 for the game. DeRozan went to the foul line once all game, & his jump shot didn’t compensate for the lack of drives, ending 2/9. Removing AB’s 13/20 from the team’s shooting line leaves an ugly 19/58; similarly, take out his 3/5 from distance & you’re left with 3/13 from everyone else. Twenty team assists is also a disappointing number.
The Pistons out-rebounded the Raps 46-37, led by Drummond (13) & Monroe (11). In other news, the sun rose in the east.
The Raptors come home with no wins on the road trip, & must face the formidable San Antonio Spurs. This season is rapidly spinning out of control. Is it time to yell “Mayday”? You’ll hear from me on that topic shortly.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.