Amir Johnson, PF37 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3Gave his trademark effort on both ends of the floor, but looked a step slow, probably due to the amount of banging/the crazy amount of minutes he’s been playing over the last couple months. Greg Monroe killed him in the fourth, which basically sealed the game for the Pistons.
Rudy Gay, SF40 MIN | 13-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 34 PTS | -11That’s a gaudy stat line, and he was absolutely unconscious for the first 3 quarters of the game – showcasing a versatile offensive game that included some beautiful jumpers from all over the floor and a thunderous dunk in traffic. In the fourth, though, it seemed like his shot selection went out the window, as he took a number of early in the shot clock attempts that all but forced Lowry to start taking the ball to the hoop. His defence, like the vast majority of the Raptors, was really ugly tonight too, particularly when he was forced to play the 4.
Jonas Valanciunas, C37 MIN | 8-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -8Thank God for this kid, who worked his tail off on both ends of the floor against a massive Pistons front line, won the head-to-head battle with Andre Drummond, and showed off his ever-evolving offensive game. Two things: he’s a bit too hasty to give up position before his check gets the ball, leaving him a bit over-reliant on his blocking ability, and he really needs to develop a left hand in the offseason, as his “two dribbles, hook shot” is getting predictable and was stripped a couple times tonight. One more thing: he’s BY FAR the best reason to keep watching this team through the end of the year.
Kyle Lowry, PG30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +2His best moments came early in the fourth quarter, when he took charge of the offense, keeping the ball himself and driving through the lane when both Gay and DeMar fell in love with the early in the shot clock jumper. His worst moments came later on in the fourth, when he seemingly held the ball for 15 seconds every time the Raptors had possession. Jose: I love you, but you can’t defend the drive – Lowry: FREAKING DRIVE!
DeMar DeRozan, SG41 MIN | 7-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -4After the first half, I was ready to sing DeMar’s offensive praises – he made some great passes, showcased a varied shot selection, and even posted up the smaller Brandon Knight when he got the chance. In the second half, though, he reverted back to his jump shot and turned into the overshooting DeMar we’ve all come to know and love. Like the rest of the Raptor wings, his defence was ugly tonight.
Quincy Acy, SF8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +1Only got 8 minutes of run, but worked his butt off on both ends of the floor, got the better of Charlie Villanueva on numerous occasions, and threw down this hammer of a dunk. One of two Raptors who actually looked like he cared about defence for the entire game, the other being Valanciunas.
Sebastian Telfair, PG18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -12Hit two quick 3s when he entered the game, and then caught Anderson-itis for the rest of the night, throwing up a ton of shots early in the clock that were unacceptable in a close game (in any game, really). His defensive effort was basically nonexistent, as well, though you can say that about all of the Raptor wings for long stretches of the game.
Alan Anderson, SG16 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -4He’s got a little angel and a little devil on either shoulder, and they’re both just screaming: “shoot, Alan! Shoot! SHOOT!!”
Terrence Ross, SG13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -11Got his lunch eaten by Rodney Stuckey on defense, airballed a 3, and generally looked like he didn’t give a crap at all. It’s tough to justify giving him minutes when you look at his effort compared to Jonas or Acy.
Dwane CaseyContinued to give Jonas plenty of run, but waited way too long to insert him back into the game in the fourth – waiting until there were just 5 minutes left in the game for no apparent reason (all the other starters were in the game). Also stubbornly continued to use a small-ball lineup late into the game even though it was apparent that they couldn’t hold up against the Pistons’ massive front line. Acy was playing well – why not put him back in?
Four Things We Saw
The story of tonight’s game was Jose’s return, and the fans responded by giving him a really nice ovation as he was introduced. A classy way to thank a classy player. His halftime attempt to enter the Raptors’ locker room was a great reminder of how synonymous he’s become with the home squad over the years. Even if it came in the midst of a really ugly Raptor effort, it was great to see him have a good game tonight.
I don’t know if the Raptor wings all collectively agreed to take the night off on defence, but the effort for 3 and a half quarters was absolutely pathetic. Detroit’s wing players drove through the lane at will, running up a comical 62% shooting percentage after the first half. The only time the Raptors even attempted to stop dribble penetration was for the first half of the 3rd quarter, where they quickly jumped out to a 10 point lead. Coincidence?
From a Raps’ perspective, the two biggest bright spots (by far) were Jonas Valanciunas and Quincy Acy. Take the silver lining for what it is, but if the Raptors are only going to have two players look impressive on a night like tonight, at least it was their rookies. Here’s hoping they continue to give a crap night after night – it must have been tough given the way their team was playing around them.
With today’s loss, the Raptors have officially been eliminated from playoff contention – the most incredible thing about that is that it’s taken so long. Eight games to go.