Jan 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) drives to the net against Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors 112 - Detroit Pistons 91: Welcome home, lads!


Jan 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) drives to the net against Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Detroit 112-91. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors could perhaps have been forgiven had they mailed in their match against the Detroit Pistons. They had just completed a nasty road trip with losses in the visitor-beware arenas of Miami and Indiana. The Raps let the Pistons hang around in a lacklustre first half, then started to successfully take the ball to the hoop after intermission, and won easily.

The only Piston who impressed me was their quick rookie guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In fact, I left the Air Canada Centre thinking that was the poorest effort by an opposing team since Utah’s visit early in the season. What is with Andre Drummond? Doesn’t he read scouting reports about how Jonas Valanciunas likes to start a possession by offering a ball fake? Drummond bit on a fake not once but twice, leading to easy crams by JV. Charlie Villenueva tossed up some flat-trajectory 3-balls, and got upset when they didn’t fall. It’s kind of late in his career to be learning proper jump shot technique. An aside to coach Maurice Cheeks: didn’t your advance scouts tell you that leaving Terrence Ross unguarded beyond the arc is a bad idea? TR was 5 of 10 from distance. Brandon Jennings hasn’t changed at all since his arrival in the Motor City from Milwaukee. He’s their version of Rudy Gay, a high-volume shooter who makes just enough to be dangerous. He needed 19 shots to make 22 points. Oh yeah…19 of 35 from the charity stripe? C’mon Detroit, this is the NBA. I now understand why this loss was the Pistons’ sixth straight.

The Raps got the kind of contributions from the entire lineup which was sorely lacking against Indiana. All the starters scored in double figures. JV and Amir Johnson each pulled down 11 rebounds. Detroit’s big men, Drummond and Greg Monroe, blocked 2 Raps’ shots, while our starting bigs swatted 6. DeMar DeRozan left his jump shot on the plane, but took to driving to the bucket instead, earning 16 free throws and making 13. Kyle Lowry, despite missing a couple of layups, hit 4 of 6 from distance, and made all 9 free throws, to finish with a team-high 21 points. He added 9 assists, and would have had several more but for the inability of his mates to convert some fine passes.

While I’m glad the Raps celebrated their return with a healthy victory, outscoring the sluggish Pistons 62-37 in the second half, I hope they don’t get complacent. Get some rest guys, you’ve earned it, and you’ll need it. The suddenly hot Brooklyn Nets are in town Saturday night.



Tags: Detroit Pistons Toronto Raptors

  • Dinos Charitopoulos

    From this game I have to admit that I enjoyed JV against Drummond. I was very sceptic about this match-up, and to be honest, there were many times that i was having the question if the Raptors Front office did well with passing on Drummond ans selecting Ross, and If JV is actually better NBA-standard player than the Piston C. But yesterday, JV gave me the answer. Drummond may be strong and powerful, but JV is (much) cleverer, so his potential is much higher…Go Raps!!!

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Dinos:
      I think both JV and Drummond have bright futures. JV is definitely ahead of Drummond on offense, but the reverse is true on D. I think they are both likely to become stalwarts, but last night JV was the winner, without question.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • raffa

    So why the feeling on T Ross versus Drummond these days.
    What would people prefer if we had a “do over” right now ?
    I haven’t watched Drummond much to really judge but see very high potential – including on defence – in Ross .. that is much closer to being realized than a short while ago.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi raffa:
      You ask a very good question. I was at the Air Canada Centre on draft night 2 years ago, and was astonished (and so was everyone else) when Bryan Colangelo passed on Drummond to take the unknown Ross. Many draft boards had Drummond going right after Anthony Davis, so for him to fall to the Pistons at #9 was a considerable shock.
      I think there are competing visions of the team of the future here, and it depends on the vision you believe will succeed which determines the pick. If you think the NBA is a big man’s league, then Drummond is your selection. If you believe championships will be won by small, mobile squads firing 3-balls from everywhere, you pick Ross.
      Of course, both players might work out, and in fact that seems to be the case. Drummond has lots of talent, and he’s huge. I suspect he’ll figure things out. TRoss is improving all the time, but is still a year away from being all he’s capable of.
      Thanks for commenting.