“There are no pretty games in the NBA,” Casey said after the game. “It’s a man’s league. It’s hit, knock down, drag out, and the strong survive. The days of pretty basketball — the up and down and all of this — you’re not going to see that very much. To win in this league, win in the Eastern Conference especially, I’ve found it’s a man’s [conference]. “We’re learning how to [play like] that. I can’t express that any other way. We’re doing a better job of it.”
Despite the success of the past few weeks, Casey has seen a troubling trend in his two starting bigs in Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. Casey has seen both Valanciunas and Johnson struggle with opposing bigs who play a physical brand of basketball. “Over a stretch of games physicality has been giving Jonas trouble and Amir trouble and we’ve got to combat that or we’re going to see it every night and its going to be our problem,” Casey said.
In all seriousness, the Detroit Pistons didn’t exactly help themselves out in this one. They out-worked Toronto in the first half and behind a lethal early dose of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, jumped out to the early lead, but in the second half put on one of the worst displays of basketball aesthetics of the season taking ill-advised shot after shot, and failing to run much of anything resembling an offence. Brandon Jennings put on a vintage performance with 22 points but it took him 19 shots to get those numbers.
Sadly, this is the best Jennings we’ve seen in a while. His big numbers were hollow, but at least they existed.
Following another daunting road trip, capped off by disappointing but expected losses to the Heat and Pacers, the Raptors schedule finally begins to ease up. Wednesday’s meeting with Detroit was the first of four straight against losing teams. Four of their next five are at home and only two of the remaining 12 contests in January come against opponents that went into Wednesday’s games with winning records.
The Raps got the kind of contributions from the entire lineup which was sorely lacking against Indiana. All the starters scored in double figures. JV and Amir Johnson each pulled down 11 rebounds. Detroit’s big men, Drummond and Greg Monroe, blocked 2 Raps’ shots, while our starting bigs swatted 6. DeMar DeRozan left his jump shot on the plane, but took to driving to the bucket instead, earning 16 free throws and making 13. Kyle Lowry, despite missing a couple of layups, hit 4 of 6 from distance, and made all 9 free throws, to finish with a team-high 21 points. He added 9 assists, and would have had several more but for the inability of his mates to convert some fine passes.
It was the Pistons’ sixth consecutive loss and eighth in nine games and fueled ongoing questions about the team’s makeup and future direction — and whether they will be buyers or sellers at the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Those weren’t supposed to be issues with this retooled roster. Toronto was a microcosm.The worst 3-point-shooting team in the NBA was outscored by 21 points at the arc. Toronto made 11. The clangy Pistons, now regularly dared by clogged interiors to shoot 3-pointers, shot 4 of 16. The worst free-throw-shooting team in the NBA was outscored by 12 points at the line and were outshot by 91 percent to 54 percent.
“Second halves have been our killer this whole year,” said Stuckey, who returned after missing three games to score 14. “Play phenomenal the first half and then stop sharing the basketball.”
Lowry trolling over at RealGM
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