Mar 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) defends during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors 101 - Detroit Pistons 87: Back in the saddle

Mar 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the net against Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.



Tags: Detroit Pistons Toronto Raptors

  • Rowdy101

    During the Nets game a couple of nights ago, I noticed JV talking to himself a lot. Almost in a self-punishing way if he failed at something. During yesterday’s game I was listening on satellite radio, the commentary from the Detroit announcers were also about JV, discussing how he was not on the floor much in the 2nd half, being benched by the coach in the 2nd half of several recent games.

    My amateur take is that JV is the type of player who needs to think less, not more. I imagine this is an unusual requirement for someone at the professional level, as it is common practice for some people in the amateur or recreational ranks. Practice, Practice, Play, Play… don’t overthink.

    Not certain JV’s up/down play it is as much about confidence, or that he punishes himself internally, which distracts him. Someone on the bench almost needs to snap him out of it on a regular basis.

    I’m curious if you see this when you’re at the games, seeing things off camera?
    That is my psych/amateur coach thought of the day.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Rowdy:
      There’s no doubt JV is very hard on himself. When I watch games from my perch on the centre strip, halfway up the lower bowl, I see him shaking his head or grimacing, particularly when he’s just missed an easy shot. I think he takes seriously his responsibility to his teammates, perhaps too much so.
      He gets a lot of encouragement from the guys, and from Jamaal Magloire. I’d like to see JV go to big-man school in the summer, where he could get more teaching in advanced technique.
      JV also doesn’t like a lot of fouls he gets called for.
      I’ve started to think about how the Raps’ rotation will change in the playoffs. I suspect JV won’t be on the bench as much, assuming he’s not in foul trouble.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Rowdy101

        The Raps have potential to go well into the playoffs if he can stay on the floor.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Yes, and it’s vital for our long-term future for JV to have some success (or a lot!) in the playoffs. His confidence is fragile, but will get a permanent boost if he can make a difference as the Raps win a round or two.