Sunday was another example of the Raptors getting pushed around in the paint. The Pistons outrebounded them 55-40, with a 21-8 edge in the offensive-boards department. A healthy and mobile Amir Johnson would go a long way to addressing that need and Casey knows it. “We definitely do,” he said when asked how desperately they need a healthy Johnson back. “Any time anybody gets 21 offensive boards tells all of our bigs there’s a need. It’s timing, it’s grit, it’s anticipation and a lot of those things that we didn’t have. They basically manhandled us in the paint and we’ve got to better than that.” Coming into the game it was the defensive slippage that was of most concern and while the Raptors held Detroit to just 41.7% shooting, the Pistons also scored 107 points which is way too many for a team that has struggled as much as Detroit. Casey, though, was most concerned with the beating his team took on the glass.
Most fans will look back on this game as a bit of a disappointment. Once again, the Raptors played down to a level that shouldn’t be acceptable for a club that just laid claim to the Atlantic Division title. With that said, we witnessed yet another clutch performance from DeRozan who looks to be in top form just in time for the playoffs. In addition, we saw this team react to the loss of Lowry and not miss a beat. Detroit or not – a win, is a win, is a win.
Nearing the end of their magical, out-of-nowhere campaign, the Raptors continue to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Two days after clinching their second ever division title, they tied the team’s all-time win mark – previously set in 2000-01 and then again in 2006-07 – and have a chance to top it on Monday when they host the Bucks or in Wednesday’s finale against New York. “We talked about it as a team,” Casey said. “It wasn’t our goal going into the year but it’s good for this group. It’s something they should be proud of. They worked at it and it’s all their doing.” “Why not break it?” “It definitely means a lot, man,” said DeRozan, who scored 14 of his game-high 30 points in the final quarter Sunday. “When you look at it, if you really sit down and look at it, man, that’s big. To be tied with the franchise record and have a chance to break it. We came a long way. A lot of people wouldn’t have counted [on] us to be in this position that we’re in now.”
There will be a banner-raising ceremony to mark the team’s second Atlantic Division title before the game as DeRozan and the Raptors chase win No. 48 on the year. Victory No. 47 was far from pretty but with so much on the line in such an unexpected season, DeRozan’s 14-point fourth quarter sealed a 116-107 win over the Detroit Pistons and kept Toronto on pace for a record-breaking year.
The play in this game became sloppy and inconsistent and even the referees seemed to have trouble concentrating. Kyle Lowry was fouled out on successive lazy calls by the referees who couldn’t bother to pay attention long enough to get it right. Lowry was fouled out when Drummond tripped over his own feet all by himself. No one on either team had touched him, he just lost his balance. If the referee had of been actually watching the play instead of not paying attention, he would have gotten the non-call, nothing happened situation, right. It must be almost the end of the regular season and some of the referees – along with any number of the players – have one foot on the plane heading out on vacation already.
“We definitely want to pass that record,” forward Amir Johnson said. “We’re still playing hard, we’re still working on our game for the playoffs so we’re still playing for something.”
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