It didn’t look like a Detroit Pistons game.
It didn’t feel like one, either
But, in the end, it was another loss, so it was a Pistons game after all.
Rocking their new City Edition uniforms — green with black and blue trim to celebrate the famed St. Ceclia Gym in Detroit — and debuting a new starting lineup with Cade Cunningham missing his second-straight game, it just felt... weird.
Even with the Toronto Raptors in town, setting up the quarterly Dwane Casey Revenge Game, something felt off in the 115-111 loss at Little Caesars Arena.
But before we dive into the autopsy, let’s focus on the fun part.
Trailing by 14 midway through the third, Jaden Ivey shook off a slow start to will the Pistons back into the game in the fourth. Ivey started slow against the Raptors lengthy defense, but came alive late and scored 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter.
Ivey, who also had 8 assists and 4 rebounds, had a chance to cut the lead to one in the final minute, but was blocked on an ill-advised drive that all but sealed the Pistons’ fate.
He wasn’t perfect, but he gave the Pistons a much-needed jolt when they needed it. If you want to place blame, point to the 19 turnovers and/or 12 missed free throws.
Bojan Bogdanovic was particularly bad, shooting just 6 of 10 from the line and 2 for 8 from downtown. An offensive star early in the season, the increased defensive attention he’s seeing without Cunningham is catching up to him.
Bogey did hit a huge triple out of a timeout to make it 111-108 in the final minute of the game, but otherwise struggled mightily.
As for the general weirdness of the night, let’s start with the starters. The Pistons finally debuted the BIG lineup against the large-across-the-board Raptors with Marvin Bagley III replacing Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes subbing in for an injured Cade.
Frankly, it wasn’t that bad early.
Bagley and Isaiah Stewart each hit early triples and the Pistons out-rebounded Toronto 24-19 in the first half. Stewart, in particular, looked very comfortable at the four. He got to his spots and hit the pick-and-pop jumpers and his defense held up against Barnes:
Scottie Barnes tries some Josh Giddey shit on Stew for some reason pic.twitter.com/GxVCEMIzLS— Beef Stew Fan Club (@StewFanClub) November 15, 2022
The bad news is Stewart left late in the first half with a foot sprain and did not return. I say this with full confidence: if Isaiah Stewart misses extended time, the Pistons could give up 130 points per game. It would be b-a-d.
The Pistons really missed Stew’s rebounding in the second half as well.
Detroit’s turnover issues were no fault of Killian Hayes, who played a quaint but controlled game. He wasn’t overly aggressive nor did he feel passive. He played within the flow of a very disjointed starting lineup, finishing with a modest 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Funny thing is, he wasn’t even the best Pistons point guard. Alec Burks is still finding his way after offseason foot surgery, but flashed a tight handle and some nifty moves around the basket as he buried a pair of threes in the second quarter and finished with 15 points.
Bey off the bench was... Bey? He was quiet, but played 30 minutes and got 10 shots up. He finished with 9. I think coming off the bench can, and will, work for him. But it’s going to take some time and Cade coming back to regulate the rotation.
If this big lineup sticks when he returns, I think the bench could take a big step forward with Bey and Burks leading the way.
Tonight’s comeback was great fun, but in the end, this was a bad loss.
Toronto is much better than Detroit, but this is the Pistons’ Super Bowl. With the Raptors being down Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr., Detroit should have won this game. It was there for them even with their plethora of miscues.
Really, Toronto survived because OG Anunoby fully embraced the starring role on both ends (19 points and 2 blocks) while role players like Chris Boucher (20 points) and Delano Blanton (career-best 27 points) made the most of their opportunity.
It was just a frustratingly normal Pistons game. They were careless with the ball and inconsistent from downtown. They played hard, but didn’t play defense. In the end, Cade not being there late was too much to overcome as Ivey couldn’t carry them to the finish.
The loss also snapped a six-game winning streak against the Raptors and drops Casey’s record against his former team to 9-4. The Pistons will return to action Thursday when they head to LA to battle the Clippers in what marks the first of six games on the west coast.