Raptors turn up defense, use fourth-quarter spurt to pull away from Pistons
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Three quick observations from Friday night’s 105-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena
SHOT SPECTRUM – Dwane Casey left Toronto, but the shot spectrum he taught the Raptors – and has implemented with the Pistons – remains firmly in place. It produced a startling first-half statistic as the Raptors won their 10th straight game and went to 3-0 over the Pistons this season – after the Pistons swept the three-game series in Casey’s first season with the Pistons. Toronto, which won its 10th straight game, scored 57 of its 60 first-half points either in the paint (36) or from the 3-point arc (21) and finished with 66 points in the paint and 27 from the 3-point line. The Raptors held a 36-6 edge in first-half points in the paint. For all of that, the Pistons pulled themselves back into the game, cutting their deficit to six late in the third quarter after trailing by 16 in the first half. But the Raptors overwhelmed them to start the fourth, outscoring them 18-5 in the first five-plus minutes to open a 22-point lead. The Pistons had trouble containing Toronto in transition, allowing 17 fast-break points, and extraordinary difficulty getting off good shots. The Pistons were held below 25 points in the first, third and fourth quarters and wound up shooting just 35.4 percent. Derrick Rose led the Pistons with 21 points, extending his streak of scoring at least 20 points in a game to a career-best 14. Andre Drummond used a strong finish to record a 20-20 game with 20 points and 20 rebounds.
SEKOU SITS – After seven straight ineffective starts on the heels of his 24-point outing in a Pistons win at Boston on Jan. 15, Sekou Doumbouya came out of the starting lineup. Doumbouya played only the first five minutes of the first half and the first three of the second half in Wednesday’s loss at Brooklyn, during which he went scoreless and was a minus-20, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that Dwane Casey would alter his lineup for the Toronto game. Thon Maker started at power forward, backed by Markieff Morris, with Tony Snell starting at small forward and Svi Mykhailiuk swinging between shooting guard and small forward. Maker didn’t wind up with any more statistical production than Doumbouya had been giving the Pistons of late, finishing with one point and one rebound in 14 minutes. Morris finished with nine points and six rebounds.
A RISING STAR – Makes sense that Svi Mykhailiuk will represent the Pistons on the World Team at next week’s Rising Stars Challenge as part of All-Star Weekend. Mykhailiuk’s star has been on a rapid ascent in January during a second season that’s stamped him as a part of the franchise’s future. Going into Friday’s game, Mykhailiuk in 15 January games averaged 13.3 points in 29.6 minutes a game. Mykhailiuk shot 45 percent overall, 42 percent from the 3-point arc on 6.6 attempts a game and 90 percent from the foul line. Mykhailiuk made his 11th start of the month and his 17th of the season against Toronto and scored 10 of his 13 points in the first quarter with the Raptors playing primarily zone defense. Mykhailiuk hit 4 of 6 from the 3-point arc and added four rebounds and two assists.