3-point shooting goes Toronto’s way as Casey’s ex-team outguns Pistons
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Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 112-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena
FIRST-HALF SIEVE – A defense that had shown marked improvement since Blake Griffin returned after missing the season’s first 10 games is suddenly out of sorts again. One game after allowing Washington a season-high 67 first-half points, the Pistons saw Toronto establish a new benchmark: 70 points. When the defense righted itself in the second half, the offense teetered. For all of their first-half defensive woes, the Pistons were within arm’s reach of the Raptors at halftime, scoring 64 first-half points of their own. But when the offense sputtered in the third quarter, shooting 30 percent with four turnovers, Toronto widened its lead to 17. The Raptors missed their first eight shots of the fourth quarter – the sense of purpose defensively ticked up a few noticeable degrees – and the door cracked open ever so slightly as the Pistons pulled within 11 points with eight minutes to play. It took another four minutes to get it to single digits at 105-96, but the Pistons got no closer as they endured one of their worst 3-point shooting nights of the season.
TWO IN, ONE OUT – After playing the past two games without Andre Drummond and all but a half of that without Blake Griffin, the Pistons were as close to whole as they’ve been this season when both returned against Toronto. Of their rotation staples, only Reggie Jackson – who missed his 26th consecutive game – was unavailable at tipoff.
Drummond was fitted for goggles to avoid the necessity of playing with his contact lenses, which became painful to tolerate after he experienced an allergic reaction to avocado while in Mexico City last week, but Drummond played without them and appeared comfortable in finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds in 37 minutes. Griffin, who sat out Monday’s loss to Washington with left knee soreness, scored 12 first-half points and finished with 15. But Christian Wood, who assumed a larger role without Drummond and Griffin, suffered a left knee strain midway through the second quarter after contributing six points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in six minutes. He came out to warm up with his teammates for the second half, but was soon declared out for the remainder of the game.
3-POINT STORY – Dwane Casey oversaw the transformation of the Raptors to an analytically reliant organization that devoted itself to creating open 3-point shots and he brought the same philosophy with him to the Pistons. The Pistons came into Monday’s game No. 2 in the NBA in 3-point shooting at .385 and Toronto stood at No. 4 at .378. And 3-point shoting was as big as any factor in determining Wednesday’s winner. While Toronto hit 13 of 35, the Pistons sputtered to a 6 of 35 performance. It afflicted their best shooters, too. Tony Snell (.452 on the season) was 1 of 8; Langston Galloway (.422) was 1 of 6; and Markieff Morris (.416) was 0 of 4. A key point came midway through the fourth quarter when the Pistons had pulled within 10 points. Tony Snell missed a 3-pointer at one end, sinking the Pistons to 6 of 31 at the time, and Pascal Siakam answered with a three at the other, upping Toronto’s mark to 12 of 32. Siakam hit as many triples (six) in 11 attempts as the Pistons did in 35.Toronto established its first-half lead by soundly outshooting the Pistons from the 3-point arc, hitting 9 of 19 to 4 of 17 for the Pistons.