Bad teams, like this year’s Detroit Pistons, seem to find new ways to lose games. While the Pistons showed admirable resolve in their refusal to quit when the Toronto Raptors went on significant runs in the second and third quarters, Detroit never took the lead. And what tripped them up? Of all things, it was free throw shooting. Detroit got to the line, but couldn’t convert (10 for 24 is execrable at this level of play). The Raps did, and were able to fend off the visitors for a workmanlike yet gratifying win.
This game was an oddball in many ways. Detroit’s giant front line of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe should have dominated the rebounding battle, yet it was the Raps’ Jonas Valanciunas who pulled down a game-high 13. The Raps outboarded the Pistons by a crazy 54-39, including 8 each by Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes in part-time duty. Sure. The Pistons’ field-goal percentage was higher than that of their free-throw. Brandon Jennings was 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, yet missed an uncontested breakaway layup and all 4 free throws he tried. Andre Drummond, who seems to have been anointed as the Next Big Thing by the trade press, had 16 points and 9 boards – yet was minus-33. [20-second timeout: I appreciate interim coach John Loyer's problem. He's trying to do everything possible to convince Detroit's management he should receive the gig full time. But how does it help his cause if he can't win with his current lineup, but won't play his kids? Tony Mitchell and Gigi Datome each played under a minute. Jonas Jerebko looked fine, yet got 7 minutes. What's the point? At least we didn't have to see the washed-up Charlie Villanueva.]
Not everything was out of joint. The Raps got another dandy game from DeMar DeRozan, who was too elusive on his drives for the often stationary Detroit interior defense to handle except by fouling. He had 25 points, 8 of them from the charity stripe, and was plus-30 in almost 41 minutes of burn. Kyle Lowry made half of his 6 tries from 3-point land on his way to 19 points. Many of his 6 assists were to Amir Johnson, who also found unexpected room in the paint to pour in a welcome 20. As a team, the Raps have shown admirable spunk in the fourth quarter, and did so again, outscoring Detroit by 9.
Toronto needed this win, as the hard-charging Brooklyn Nets defeated the Miami LeBrons tonight. Our team’s home stand continues on Friday night with a visit from another team on a mission, the vastly improved Memphis Grizzlies.