DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 25: Hamidou Diallo #6 of the Detroit Pistons shoots the ball against the Toronto Raptors on February 25, 2023 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)

Free-throw disparity allows Raptors to eke out win over Pistons

Three quick observations from Saturday afternoon’s 95-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Little Caesars Arena

FIRST THINGS FIRST – With Jalen Duren sitting out due to lingering soreness in both ankles, injuries to which have cost Duren the only nine games he’s missed in his rookie season, James Wiseman drew his first start since joining the Pistons and coming off the bench in two games. Wiseman was dogged by foul trouble, picking up his third midway through the second quarter to limit him to 10 first-half minutes and then getting hit with his fourth less than a minute into the third quarter. Wiseman’s fifth foul came with more than seven minutes left and he picked up his sixth with 6:28 to play – earning a technical on his way out – and the Pistons trailing 81-76. In 20 minutes, Wiseman managed a double-double with 10 points on 5 of 9 shooting plus 10 rebounds. All those fouls helped Toronto to the win as the Raptors, despite shooting just 64.7 percent from the foul line, outscored the Pistons 22-9 via free throws as the Pistons attempted only 14, 20 less than Toronto. Fouls wound up 26 for Detroit, 18 for Toronto. The Pistons had a chance to take the lead in the final half-minute but Marvin Bagley III’s driving hook shot missed, the Raptors countered with two free throws with 11 seconds to play and then, ahead by three, put Bagley on the line with 4.1 seconds left. He split the pair and Toronto padded its lead with two more free throws. Another first: R.J. Hampton, signed off waivers on Thursday, was in uniform for the first time with the Pistons after spending the first two-plus seasons of his career with Orlando and Denver. Hampton entered the game early in the second quarter, played five first-half minutes and finished denting the score sheet only with one steal, not attempting a shot or recording a rebound or assist.. Hampton, who turned 22 earlier this month, was the 24th pick of the 2020 draft and was traded midway through his rookie season to Orlando in the deal that shipped Aaron Gordon to the Nuggets.

BAGLEY’S BACK – Marvin Bagley III returned from a hand injury that had sidelined him since Jan. 2 and he took advantage of a Toronto second unit that lacks a true center to put up big numbers. In a nine-minute stint spanning the first and second quarters, Bagley compiled 11 points and nine rebounds, hitting 5 of 10 shots. When James Wiseman picked up three fouls midway through the second quarter, Bagley finished off the half with an easy double-double, 13 points and 13 rebounds in 14 minutes. He played 27 minutes despite the lengthy layoff and recorded season highs in points (21) and rebounds (18), the latter also a career best. Bagley, who broke bones in his right hand in a Pistons loss at Portland and required surgery, came into the game averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 21 minutes a game over 25 games, 13 of them starts.

REBOUNDS GALORE – Whether it was the noon tipoff or the frigid temperatures or, more likely, just one of those days, offense was stuck in neutral both ways for much of the day at Little Caesars Arena. So take the rebounding totals to come out of the matinee with a grain of salt. The Pistons average 42.3 rebounds a game and they nearly matched that total by halftime, when they had 38, and they finished with 62 to match their season high. Dwane Casey has challenged his four big men – Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman – to become a dominant rebounding team to justify playing two at a time to maximize the roster. The Pistons outrebounded Toronto at both ends, collecting 13 offensive boards in the first half alone on their way to 17 – though they only cashed those in for eight second-chance points. Bagley had eight offensive rebounds in the first half alone, an absurd number – and tying his career high for a game, coming on Jan. 27, 2021 at Orlando as a remember of the Sacramento Kings. Bagley finished with 11 offensive rebounds. Stewart finished with nine rebounds in 19 minutes before leaving midway through the third quarter with right rip soreness, Wiseman with 10 in 20 and Bojan Bogdanovic with nine, matching his season high, in 29 minutes.