The Detroit Pistons got matched up with the hottest team in the Eastern Conference on the road on the second day of a back-to-back Saturday night while missing Ersan Ilyasova. The final result was about what you'd expect.
Their 111-107 loss was their second in a row, as Toronto notched their 11th straight win.
The Pistons didn't play terribly, at least not until the early fourth quarter. After falling behind early, they had some awesome defensive plays and were very opportunistic with second-chance points, several times pulling within two points throughout the second and third quarters despite never leading.
It wasn't until late in the game that things got out of hand. The Raptors got up and down the floor to capitalize on their depleted, tired opponents, putting the game away in the late third/early fourth quarter stretch by upping the pace and hitting a couple backbreaking shots.
The Pistons certainly weren't done, as they torched the Raptors late in the fourth with a 28-13 run to make the final score close, but it unfortunately wasn't enough to make up for the run in the previous minutes.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 29 points, Kyle Lowry added 18 and Cory Joseph had 16 off the bench, quite the three-guard performance. Bismack Biyombo was also a huge factor off the bench for the Raptors with his team's only double-double, 12 points and 13 boards.
The Raptors were mediocre from three-point range, hitting just four of them, but went 35-of-47 from the line and shot 46 percent from the field.
In addition to the fatigue, the Pistons were felled by familiar foes. Poor free throw shooting (20-of-34 total after an eye-popping 2-of-11 start with only four of those misses coming from Drummond), and lapses on interior defense that I'm fine just attributing to fatigue. The Pistons played 3.5 quarters of bad offense and 3.25 quarters of good defense.
Andre Drummond in particular didn't appear to have his usual lift, as he committed several ticky-tack fouls that led to him playing just 28 minutes where he posted 11 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Jackson also had a middling game with 13 points, one rebound and one assist.
Brandon Jennings, however, was awesome for the Pistons even before a late run of nice shooting from long range inflated his numbers. He had 22 points, four rebounds and two steals and led several rallies in the middle of the game that kept the Pistons close. Five other Pistons scored in double figures, led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's 15.
LIVE THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
- Tolliver starting in place of Ilyasova tonight, who is out with a thigh injury.
- SVG taking a real quick timeout. Raptors three of three from the field. The James Johnson ghost rises again.
- Funny to see that all the Cavs highlights they have from last night on ESPN and the broadcast are just LeBron getting in scuffles and turning the ball over.
- Nice defense by Detroit there. A pull-up 16-footer isn't the best shot in transition, but it went in.
- Some good little interior battles between Drummond and Jonas Valanciunas early on. As someone who wants to watch a good game, I'm happy JV is back.
- Got booted to the Toronto broadcast and these guys are homering it up pretty hard. Guess you have the right to do that when you're on a 10-game winning streak.
- Dre went 7-for-12 on Wednesday from the line...off to an 0-for-4 start tonight.
- Really nice ball movement by the Pistons gives them a KCP three and cuts the lead to two.
- Raptors have shot 45 percent on threes in the first half on January games. I'm a firm believer that's heavily influenced by randomness, but tough to beat regardless.
- Not sure why James Johnson has been a problem for the Pistons. At least thought the addition of Morris would give us a bigger wing to shut him down. Probably just a random good first for him, though.
- Detroit's on the back end of a back-to-back but a sub doesn't come in until almost the end of the first.
- There's one of the plays that won't show up on Reggie's stat sheet at all but does affect the game a ton. Misses the shot but his drive draws the help and Andre gets the easy tip-in.
- I was one of the few people who was surprised Bismack Biyombo didn't get more money this offseason. Can rebound, block shots and finish inside.
- Looks like DeRozan's toe was on the line there. I was originally planning on doing a "DeRozan long two count" but that's the first one of the game and the first is almost over.
- Drake is, indeed, in the house.
- Pistons missed some open looks but are definitely getting badly outplayed so far. 26-17. Lowry didn't even score.
- We have a Darrun Hilliard sighting (or "Hillard" as the Toronto announcers are calling him). Baynes also into the game for the first time.
- I used to think I liked the Denver Nuggets but maybe I just liked Masai Ujiri.
- Lowry gets his first field goal with 9 minutes left in the third, then misses the transition three.
- Pistons now 2-of-10 from the free-throw line, and only four of those are from Drummond. Harping on FT shooting is not my favorite thing, but that would make quite a difference in this game if those had fallen.
- Tolliver with a poor man's version of the Larry Bird get-your-own-rebound play.
- What did Lowry get a technical for there? Pumping his fist after scoring on Baynes? Didn't even look like he said anything. KCP missed the free throw anyway, now 2-of-11 as a team.
- Wow, KCP just abused Scola when he tried to post him up. Pulled the chair out and simultaneously poked it away.
- Jennings making a huge impact with his hands on defense. They were a missed alley-oop away from being down by just two.
- It's basically Jennings vs. Lowry/DeRozan at this point.
- Defense and second chances for the Pistons are keeping them in it. Toronto had a seven-point lead but they give up a putback and then a fast break.
- You can throw "the re-emergence of Luis Scola and his development of a three-point shot" in the pot of "NBA storylines I did not expect."
- Extended conversation by Toronto announcers about Drummond switching to shooting free throws underhand. Say they'd have Rick Barry on the "hotline." Which quickly turned into a Drake reference. I miss George and Greg.
- Tolliver looked like he panicked getting put in pick-and-roll by Scola and Joseph. Knew he wasn't going to stay in front of Joseph and fouled him.
- 55-47 at halftime, Stanley got handed a turd in the corner on the final possession, didn't look like there was a play.
- Toronto's got 32 points in the paint, Pistons have 12.
- Morris bails the Pistons out on consecutive possessions, two big shots.
- Couple nice defensive plays by Andre in the paint as well, and the Pistons are all of a sudden within three!
- .......and DeRozan immediately gets the and-one. Seems like every time the Pistons get back close Toronto converts a big bucket.
- Pretty laughable that's considered in the act of shooting on DeRozan, but the defender still doesn't have a right to that space, unfortunately. Have to stay on your feet.
- Morris having a big third quarter. Raptors don't really have anything for him if you have to respect his shot.
- Pistons are running plays to get these open midrangers for KCP, and it's actually been fairly reliable.
- Don't like these calls on Drummond. Just two-way contact. Put the whistle away.
- Scola's been a liability in this quarter. Slow-footed on defense, lots of wild passes.
- I know the commenters hate plus-minus stats and everything about them, but I don't think it's meaningless that Stanley Johnson is -16 in 13 minutes of a five-point game and no other Piston is even close to that.
- Marcus Morris has been awesome tonight. Brandon Jennings has as well.
- Jennings rims out a three that would've given the Pistons their first lead of the game.
- Valanciunas giving back some of the points the Pistons left on the line. 3-of-6 is really not great for him.
- DRAKE IS JOINING THE BROADCAST WHAT'S UP.
- "My parties look like the Raptors win streak right now."
- "That boy Biz lookin for revenge."
- "Simultaneously having a win streak and the All-Star game, it's like someone's watching over us right now."
- "It's big Bizness, baby"
- I haven't paid attention for the past five minutes. It's mesmerizing to hear these announcers stroking Drake's ego. "Like your checkbook, Drake? Right?? HAHAHA you're rich, right?? HAHAHAHA. And successful, too!!"
- Drake just called Baynes "Kevin Love's cousin."
- Oh it's a nine-point lead now.
- Maybe I'm insane but I think the Raptors are on like a 15-7 run since Drake joined the booth.
- Three-ball hasn't been a huge factor tonight, so that only makes it worse that Ross spots up and hits one there.
- Drake's finally out of here. They let him go by saying "it's your town" for the fifth or sixth time.
- A 9-2 run by Toronto is really not what we needed. 90-74 now, would take a huge shift to get back in this one.
- I'm not too worried about this loss from the standpoint that you're going to have games like this, especially on the road against a red-hot team and missing Ilyasova. It doesn't exactly bode well for the possible first-round matchup with Toronto, though.
- This is where I wish Anthony Bennett and Bruno Caboclo were on the Raptors' active roster.
- Put in your bench warmers, Stan.
- The final score's going to look a lot worse than this game actually was. Pistons were in it for quite a while despite a lot of things not going their way. Maybe the Raptors were just toying with them, but I don't think this loss is as bad as it looks.
- Shampoo companies are really missing out by not reaching out to Baynes. His rubbing both-hands-in-his-hair form is one of the most beautiful things I've seen.
- Pistons with a little garbage-time run to make the score look a little better.
- I'm not too concerned about this loss because it wasn't really a game in which I was expecting much from the Pistons, but I'm interested to hear what everyone else thinks.
- Actually quite a garbage-time rally. I'm impressed. Shouldn't have turned the game off.