‘You’ve got to go out and compete’ – transition D falters as Pistons fall at Toronto
TORONTO – Dwane Casey is patient and considerate of the overwhelming desire to talk about the one thing everybody north of the border really wants to discuss with him on his return trips to Canada: getting back to Toronto.
But it was his team getting back on defense – or not getting back on defense, more to the point – that dominated his thoughts after the 125-113 hurting his old team, Toronto, put on his current team, the Pistons, on a rainy Wednesday night.
“You’ve got to go out and compete, not wait to get punched in the mouth,” Casey said as the Pistons fell to 2-3 while again playing without Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson. “They attacked us. Our transition defense was not resilient. We didn’t get back consistently and they attacked us early in the clock.”
The tone was established in the game’s first 10 minutes when Toronto scored a full night’s worth of transition points – 14 of their first 28, in fact.
That’s what the official box score said, at least.
“We had (Toronto scoring) 18 in the first quarter. Early offense is how we measure it and they had it,” Casey said. “That was a great indication right there we did not come out ready for the speed that they play with.”
The Pistons somehow got to halftime trailing by just six points, a testament to the first-half brilliance of Derrick Rose more than anything. While the Pistons were producing the shots Casey’s offense is designed to yield and knocking one cohort of those shots down – 3-pointers – they were badly misfiring on the other half of the equation, shots near the rim.
The Pistons had eight more shots in the paint than Toronto, 50-42, yet made six fewer baskets, 24 to Toronto’s 30.
“We’ve got to look at that again,” Casey said. “We had the opportunity to get in and that’s when you kick it out and that caused some of the turnovers, when you get in the crowd instead of kicking it out. When we did kick it out, we got good looks.”
Rose had 14 points and four assists in 12 first-half minutes and finished with 16 points and 10 assists, but played only eight second-half minutes before shutting it down with hamstring pain.
“It’s not a concern,” Casey said. “Just soreness. He’ll be fine.”
Andre Drummond finished with 21 points and 22 rebounds, though the bulk of his damage – 10 points, 12 rebounds – came in the fourth quarter with the game well out of reach.
It was really decided in the first four minutes of the third quarter when the six-point halftime deficit swelled to 17. Casey burned two timeouts as one of his pet projects from his Toronto run, Pascal Siakam, got away from the Pistons, scoring 19 of his 30 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
“He just continues to grow,” Thon Maker said of Siakam. “He expands his game throughout the summer. He added this year his touch. He’s done a great job of that and that makes him even more dangerous. Coming downhill, you’ve got to respect that, but you’ve also got to respect the jump shot now.”
Casey’s successor, Nick Nurse, has played essentially a seven-man rotation in the early going, expanding it to eight against the Pistons by using Patrick McCaw, too. The two bench mainstays, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka, scored 19 apiece. Six of Toronto’s top seven scored in double figures.
Markieff Morris added 16 for the Pistons, 14 in the first half, while Langston Galloway scored 17 off of the bench.
With Rose being shut down and Jackson out, Casey gave Bruce Brown some run at point guard to start the fourth quarter. He also used Svi Mykhailiuk for the first time this season and the second-year wing responded by making three straight 3-pointers for nine points in an eight-minute stint.
“Just stay ready and help the team as much as I can,” Mykhailiuk said of the mindset he maintains after a preseason in which he shot just 22 percent from the 3-point arc to fall outside of Casey’s regular-season rotation. “That’s a good team, but we didn’t really play great on defense. We didn’t get back in the first half.”