Despite a vastly improved second half defensively for the Raptors that kept them within striking distance of the Pistons late into the fourth quarter, the real damage was done in the opening two frames.
The Raptors allowed the Pistons to shoot 57.9% in the first half as they fell behind by as much as 14 points before cutting it down to seven with a late run before the break. Friday's loss was just another example of how truly small the margin of error is for this Raptors team.
A note to those booing Tracy McGrady at ACC: you may want to stop. The former Raptor seems to thrive on the hostility as he turned in his second vintage performance in Toronto this season -- this time to the tune of a season-high 22 points with five assists and four rebounds as the team's starting lead guard.
"I am focused every game but when you have an arena that boos you, I think that you put a little more focus into it," said McGrady post-game.
It's not the presence of Leandro Barbosa that was underrated, but rather his absence. The Blur was forced out of the game just before halftime and had to be carried off due to a strained right hamstring, ending his night with just two points on one-of-four shooting.
Without their top offensive reserve, the Raptors bench was outscored 37-18 and it's something they're going to have to adjust to quickly as he won't be with the team to start their tough five-game road trip beginning in Washington on Saturday.
"They just went one-on-one. They just posted different guys up, they took turns posting different guys up. They went one-on-one and scored whoever the match up was. It’s not a scheme, it’s not anything it’s just man-on-man and they exploited the mid patches. Guys should be embarrassed when a team runs a play six times in a row right at you."
- Jay Triano, on the first-half defence
Sat., Jan. 15 @ Washington
7 PM ET, TSN, FAN590
The Raptors no embark on a daunting five-game road trip that begins in Washington, where they close a back-to-back against the Wizards. It's the third meeting between the two clubs, with each winning once on their own floor. This is also the first matchup since the major deal that sent Gilbert Arenas to Orlando in exchange for forward Rashard Lewis.
|35-18||Bench scoring favouring the Pistons|
|4||Streak of games shooting over 50% for the Raps, which was snapped on Friday (47.5%)|
|15-23||Free throw shooting for the Raptors|
|7:1||Assist-to-turnover ratio for Jose Calderon in his last seven games|
|27-16||Assist totals favouring the Raptors|
|"We are very focused and we play so much better when we match up against a very good team, Orlando, L.A. or those kind of teams. Yeah, it is another problem."|
- Andrea Bargnani, on playing up to competition
|"It was something I felt would be coming, the way we played tonight. We pretty much put 48 minutes together."|
- Pistons head coach John Kuester on hist team's effort
|"Once we see teams jumping on us, then everybody decides to play. We have got to go out there with attitude from the beginning."|
- DeMar DeRozan, on starting strong