The Raptors seemed sluggish from the get-go, and it bit them in the butt early on.
Just halfway through the first quarter, Toronto had already dug themselves a 15-point hole, and showed few signs of life to get out of it.
As usual as of late, it was the Raptors’ bench that helped pick up the team and get them back in the game. Although the reserves made it a somewhat respectable game in the second quarter, the Raptors just never looked right in that first half and certainly never looked like they were making a legitimate case to stay in the ball game.
Toronto shot the ball well (over 52 per cent) in the first half and trailed by just 11 heading into the break, but anyone watching could see that their only hope of getting a W in Detroit was going to have to come through another Michigan Miracle.
The Raps came out with a noticeable increase in energy to start the second half. They were still knocking down shots on the offensive end, and were starting to come alive at the defensive end, getting deflections and creating turnovers that led to fast breaks.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize on those fast breaks, as a couple of offensive fouls on James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan that looked like they could have actually been “and-ones” seemed to deflate the young Raptors.
After cutting the once 20-point deficit down to six early in the third quarter, the Raps faded down the stretch of the third and watched the Pistons build up another double digit lead heading into the fourth.
Pistons fans had to be getting nervous early in the fourth quarter, as the same two players who had led the last Raptors’ resurgence in Detroit, Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa, were doing it again, and the Raps were suddenly within five with plenty of time remaining.
The difference this time was that the Pistons bent, but never broke, and within a couple of minutes the lead was back to 10 and eventually 13. That swing was pretty much it for the Raptors, as they fell to 31 games below .500 (18-49) and an atrocious 5-27 on the road.
The story of the game was Toronto’s lack of defensive intensity, as they allowed Detroit to shoot 60 per cent from the field in the first half, and 52 per cent overall.
As for the positives on this night, they were few and far between. Sure, the Raptors shot the ball well themselves, but they were really a jump-shooting team tonight and didn’t get to the free throw line nearly enough. Some of that was officiating, but for the most part, it was Toronto’s inability to get anything done inside.
As mentioned, the bench was good again, outscoring Detroit’s bench 36-27.
At the end of the day, the Raptors just lost to a better team (as sad as that statement is when we’re talking about the Pistons) on the road, but also didn’t help themselves by coming out of the gates with little energy.
The loss extends Toronto’s franchise-record road losing streak to 14 games.
Raptors Player of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 26 Min, 18 Pts, 7-16 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 3-3 FT, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl (DeRozan could be here as well)
Pistons Player of the Game: Greg Monroe – 35 Min, 21 Pts, 9-14 FG, 3-5 FT, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk