The Toronto Raptors’ quest for a team they could beat ended on Friday night. The Detroit Pistons, a team whose season might actually be more disappointing than Toronto’s, rolled over in the third quarter. The Raps turned a one-point halftime advantage into a 22-point bulge, which meant the entire fourth quarter was garbage time.
This was a game in which the starting five earned its pay. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan each scored 21 points; Rudy also drained 3 of 4 from long distance. His production from beyond the arc was badly needed – Alan Anderson needed six tries to hit the only other Raps’ 3. Amir Johnson needed just 11 shots to score 20 points, as he was unstoppable near the basket. Jonas Valanciunas more than held his own against Detroit’s formidable duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Our emerging centre pulled down 13 rebounds, and contributed 4 blocked shots. JV drained several mid-range jumpers, as well as close-in buckets of the kind we expect, on his way to 14 points. Kyle Lowry continued his scoring struggles, with a meager 4 points, but he keyed the offense with 11 assists. Our second unit could only muster 19 points; by contrast, the Pistons’ Jonas Jerebko bounced off the bench to lead their team with 20.
Jose Calderon did not have a night to remember against his former squad. He attempted only 7 shots, and ended with 8 points. His NBA-leading 3-point shooting percentage won’t be damaged after hitting 2 of 4, but Jose would much rather have gotten the win. Three turnovers against seven assists isn’t a happy stat for him either, but he gets no help from his backcourt mates. Detroit’s guards, other than Jose, might be the worst in the NBA.
Raps’ coach Dwane Casey appears to be set on his players, regardless of score. Guys like Aaron Gray, Sebastian Telfair, and Mickael Pietrus are piling up the dreaded DNP-CDs (“Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision”) to an embarrassing extent. Even in a blowup like this one, these guys didn’t get any burn. It says here there will be an enormous amount of churn in the Raps’ roster during the off-season.
Anyway, it’s a win, and it stops the bleeding. The Raps travel to Washington to play the Wizards, another team heading for the draft lottery, on Sunday evening. Can we get another road victory?
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.