Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from overtime loss to Detroit Pistons

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors offered up a disjointed performance as they lost in overtime to the Detroit Pistons, though there were some promising signs. Here’s what we learned from the game.

After a down to the wire finish against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Toronto Raptors traveled to the Detroit Pistons, led by formers Raptors coach Dwane Casey, on Sunday evening.

The Raptors were once again without Kawhi Leonard, who was out due to load management. That meant there was a hole in the starting line-up, and instead of going with OG Anunoby or Norman Powell, Nick Nurse decided to stack up on guards and give Jeremy Lin his first start, shifting Danny Green to small forward.

Lin was involved early, coming off of a Marc Gasol screen, driving to the rim and kicking the ball out to Pascal Siakam, who hit a running floater to beat the clock.

Those were the only points for the Raptors in the first four minutes of the game, and the Pistons strolled out to a 10-2 lead and hit two early three-pointers.

Kyle Lowry looked to force the Raptors into life with a four-point play, but he missed the free throw. The Raptors were sloppy in the first quarter, while the Pistons were making the most of their opportunities.

The hot start from Blake Griffin forced Nick Nurse into trying something irregular with Serge Ibaka and Gasol sharing the frontcourt duties, with Pascal Siakam struggling early on.

The Raptors were only down by five at the end of the first quarter, despite playing some eye-watering basketball.

Siakam bounced back from a shaky start and began to have his way on offense, a routine spin-cycle and lay-up were followed by a nice hook shot over Blake Griffin. Reggie Jackson stopped any momentum with a deep, deep three to push the Pistons up by seven.

The Raptors were able to pull within three points of the Pistons at the end of the first half, despite only shooting 37-percent from the field. OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Kyle Lowry led the charge for the home team (hehe).

The calls were largely going against the Raptors in the third quarter, and the team started to lose their composure as a result. Pascal Siakam gave up a dubious foul on Thon Maker and was hit with a technical foul for his complaints.

Not moments later, Danny Green would earn a technical for his troubles too. Also in dispute of a soft foul call.

The technicals seemed to spark some life into Toronto and Kyle Lowry hit back with a three-pointer, following a smart steal by Marc Gasol. Big Spain would follow that up with a three of his own, giving the Raptors a two-point lead.

The Raptors began to build up a lead, helped by a Norman Powell three. Powell had struggled prior to the bucket and hopefully, that would be the catalyst for change for Norm. It was. Powell hit another three immediately afterward.

The preceding play saw Pascal Siakam get away with a clear foul on Zaza Pachulia, who was irate with the call and was ejected due to his reaction.

Powell carried on his hot streak in the third quarter, attacking the rim and drawing the foul from Reggie Jackson. Powell had nine quick points and the Raptors had an eleven point lead.

Luke Kennard carried on his fine shooting form and got the Pistons off to a good start in the fourth quarter with a step-back three, Kennard finished with points and that was his fifth three-pointer of the game.

Without Marc Gasol or Kyle Lowry on the court to start the fourth, the Raptors really struggled and the Pistons retook the lead, if only briefly. Pascal Siakam worked his way to the rim with another fancy spin move, with no intention of letting the Pistons steal the game.

It came down to the final moments once again, this time, the Pistons couldn’t steal the game. An overshot skip pass from Reggie Jackson caused the Pistons to turn the ball over on a shot-clock violation. The game was tied 100-100 and the Raptors had the ball in the half court after a timeout, the ball came to Marc Gasol but his three clanked off the rim. Overtime was on the menu.

Kyle Lowry hit the first shot of overtime, a midrange jumper that gave him his season-high in points at 30. Lowry made the next big play, stealing the ball from Blake Griffin and taking the ball to the rim, drawing a foul.

Lowry carried on making plays, a step-back three over Wayne Ellington gave him his, and the Raptors, seventh point of overtime. However, the Pistons bundled their way back into the game and Reggie Jackson tied the game with a three over OG Anunoby.

A foul by Lowry took Andre Drummond to the line the more or less out the game to bed for the Pistons. Danny Green had one last three-point attempt to five the Raptors hope and was fouled on the shot but there was no call.

Alas, the Raptors lose a frustrating, but a largely unimportant game in early March. Back to the drawing board, we go.

Here are our takeaways from the game.

1. Starting Jeremy Lin was the wrong move

Without Kawhi Leonard in the team, Nick Nurse brought Jeremy Lin into the starting line-up and it wasn’t exactly the right call.

Nick Nurse said he wanted to put Lin in to fill the VanVleet role, except that role can’t really be filled by Lin. Don’t get me wrong, Lin is a solid playmaker and can attack the rim, but he’s nowhere near the shooter that VanVleet is, and it showed.

Lin was 0-8 from the field and finished with one point in 24 minutes (yes, seriously). He struggled to create anything all evening and was at the center of the Raptors slow start early on. It would have made more sense to start OG Anunoby or Norman Powell, but we live and learn. Hopefully.

2. Serge Ibaka remains committed to the boards

Ibaka’s transition has helped his game in a number of ways, but it seems to have made him hungry to eat rebounds once again.

Ibaka’s rebounding average has jumped up to just under eight rebounds per game, and he added another 11 boards to his tally against the Pistons, including four offensive rebounds in big moments.

Facing off against Andre Drummond wasn’t the best matchup for Ibaka, but luckily he didn’t have to share the court with him too much. Regardless, Ibaka tallied his 16th double-digit rebound performance of the season, his highest mark since the 2014-15 season with Oklahoma City.

3. Aggressive Lowry is the best Lowry

Make no mistake, Kyle Lowry can impact the game in a variety of ways, but there’s no better impact than scoring points.

Lowry had a season-high 35 points on 11-24 shooting, including six made three-pointers. In the absence of Kawhi Leonard, someone was going to have to take on the bulk of the scoring. We’ve seen Pascal Siakam be that outlet numerous times this season, but last night was Kyle’s turn.

Kyle found ways to dissect the Pistons defense numerous times, whether he was driving to the rim or shooting from three. Lowry was by far the best player on the court. He spurred the Raptors in overtime all by his lonesome, scoring all of the team’s points.

Next. Kawhi Leonard is Raptors player of the week. dark

This was the best he had looked in a long time, let’s just hope it can translate to more games like this.