The Detroit Pistons continued their recent success on the road with a thrilling 114-111 win against the Toronto Raptors, the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons have now won six straight on the road and nine of their last 10 games.
The Pistons trailed by 12 at the half, 60-48, because they could not stop anything in the paint. The Raptors scored 38 there, most of which came from Jonas Valanciunas, who had 22 points on 10-for-11 shooting and 10 rebounds at the break. The Pistons simply could not keep up with the NBA's highest rated offense.
The second half was different, though. Much different. And that has been the story ever since the Pistons waived Josh Smith and practiced for four days:
The Pistons wound up outscoring the Raptors by 15 in the second half. The craziest thing is that the Raptors were still the better shooting team. The Pistons came back by taking better care of the ball (two turnovers to Toronto's 10), hustling after offensive rebounds (five more), attacking the rim (10 extra free throws), and hitting a couple extra clutch threes (5-3). Despite shooting only 42 percent in the second half, the Pistons still managed to score 66 points. (!!!)
Brandon Jennings was the MVP of the game, scoring a game-high 34 points on 22 shots and assisting 10 baskets opposite two turnovers. He also came up with the game-ending steal on Kyle Lowry followed by an emphatic spike (perhaps the greatest spike in Detroit sports history since Phil Coke spiked his glove on the mound at the end of the 2012 ALCS). The swag was strong with that one.
Greg Monroe was also awesome in victory, scoring 22 and grabbing 10 rebounds. Andre Drummond was just 3-for-12 shooting, but hit four of his six free throws on his way to 10 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Jodie Meeks, who was 1-8 to start the game (8-40 at that time in his last four games), hit four of his final five shots, including an enormous JoeD-like rainbow three-point shot near the end of the shot clock with just under a minute to play to put the Pistons up 112-108.
Lowry responded for the Raptors with a three on the other end to pull the game within one. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tried to answer with a long-distance call of his own, but forced it ill-advisedly and gave the Raptors a chance to take the lead with just 15 seconds remaining. KCP redeemed himself with a strong rebound in traffic after Lowry missed a runner. Lowry had all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, but he needed nine shots to do it.
The Raptors probably did not give enough shots to their Vs in the vendetta, Valanciunas and Vasquez. The pair combined for 47 points on just 24 shots (21-24). They were 9-10 in the second half. They were rewarded for their efforts by being taken out with 1:29 left in the fourth.
The Pistons are currently two games out of the No. 8 seed and two and a half out of the No. 7 seed. They host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
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