Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin both returned to the lineup for the Detroit Pistons, but a cold shooting night from the team’s perimeter players and the typically expert execution of the defending champion Toronto Raptors was too much to overcome in a 112-99 loss.
The Pistons came into the night second in the NBA in 3-point shooting but shot just 17% from deep against the Raptors. And it’s not because of Toronto’s great defense. Detroit had plenty of clean wide open looks for good shooters, and the shots just weren’t falling.
Tony Snell and Langston Galloway, who rank sixth and 11th in 3-point percentage for players who have attempted at least 100 3s were a combined 2-of-14 from the perimeter. Combine that with the up-tempo transition and efficient halfcourt game of the Raptors, and the Pistons didn’t really stand a chance.
Much to the Little Caesars Arena’s crowd’s delight. Yes, once again there was an invasion of passionate Canadian Raptors fans drowning out the lifeless and sparse number of Pistons fans in attendance at the Pistons’ “home” game. It’s be great if that, you know, stopped happening.
The Pistons were able to keep pace with the Raptors in an up-and-down first half. Griffin and Drummond scored 12 points apiece. The Pistons weren’t hitting 3s, but having Drummond back helped Detroit win the board war 25-18 and the Pistons entered halftime trailing by just six, 70-64.
Things really fell apart in the third quarter, however. The Raptors were pushing the ball up the floor and getting easy transition buckets while Detroit’s offense stagnated and players couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. Serge Ibaka exploded for 13 points by himself while Detroit mustered only 15 points as a team. Suddenly the deficit ballooned to 17 points and it was too much for the Pistons to overcome.
The Pistons were led by Derrick Rose with 16 points off the bench. Griffin scored 15 points in his return and had four assists but, worryingly, he secured only one rebound and he had three turnovers. Drummond also had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Detroit.
The Raptors were a well-balance attack (what’s new), with four players scoring between 18 and 21 points.
The game was not without it’s injury concerns for both teams. Blake Griffin still probably isn’t right, and it’s beyond rust at this point. I’d still rather he sit and heal instead of trying to give it a go to help a team at less than 100%.
Unfortunately, the Pistons got even thinner up front as Christian Wood seemed to sprain his knee in the first half and did not return. Toronto saw it’s big man Marc Gasol pull up with a hamstring issue, immediately call for a timeout and limped immediately to the locker room. Not a good sign.
The Pistons next play in Boston on Friday. I’m sure that’ll go much better.