The Toronto Raptors needed to put Friday’s disappointing result against the Knicks behind them, and a game against the bellyflop Detroit Pistons should have been the tonic. While the match’s beginning and end turned out well, the middle was fraught with tension.
The Raps couldn’t have started much better, pouring in 42 points in Q1. The Pistons were missing from everywhere, as the Raps went on a 17-0 run, and ended the quarter up 16. Jonas Valanciunas was defended by Tony Mitchell, who had no chance, getting charged with four fouls in seven minutes. [20-second timeout: interim coach John Loyer seems determined to follow his General Manager, Joe Dumars, out of Motor City about a half-hour after the Pistons’ final game. In other words, they’re both going to get canned, and deservedly so. When you have giants Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, what would possess you to ask Tony Mitchell to cover JV?]
Momentum shifted in Q2, as the Pistons dominated the offensive glass, getting a boatload of second- and even third-chance opportunities. The Raps’ shooting, which was an unsustainable 73% in Q1, sagged badly. The Raps had stretched the margin to 18, but following a Kyle Singler 3-ball, the Pistons were back within 10. Fortunately Kyle Lowry returned to the floor and promptly nailed a pair of 3-balls, and the Raps led by 14 at half.
The third quarter was a disaster for our guys. The Pistons scored 37 points, getting 13 from Monroe, and 9 from Singler. Detroit nosed ahead before a Lowry jumper granted the Raps a one-point lead going into Q4. The rebounding battle continued to favour the home team, as their talented giants grabbed 11 of their 16, whereas our guys could only manage 5.
Coach Dwane Casey continues to display the utmost faith in his rotation. All eleven Raps who hit the floor played a minimum of 10 minutes, and only John Salmons was scoreless. The wisdom of this tactic became very clear when Kyle Lowry fouled out (his final 2 fouls were bad calls) with 5:51 to play and the Raps clinging to a 4-point lead. Toronto was able to bring in Greivis Vasquez, who had already played significant minutes, and actually extended their lead on a Terrence Ross 3-ball. The Pistons were never close again. While all hands contributed throughout Q4, DeMar DeRozan was the man in charge, scoring 14 of his game-high 30 points. Lowry had 28 before his enforced departure, and JV dug deep to score 18, including 8 of 9 from the free-throw line.
The Raps have two chances to break their regular season win mark of 47. Toronto faces Milwaukee tomorrow night in the final regular season home game, then travels to New York for game 82 on Wednesday.
Brian Boake is Senior 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.