Raptors beat Pistons (again)

Raptors 102, Pistons 95 – Boxscore

The first 4 game winning streak of this season was a hard fought one against the Pistons. All things considered it was a quality win. You can pick at nuances of the game, which I will, but you have to be happy with the result, which I am. It used to be the Heat we could always count on for a win against, but this Pistons team has been a God-send this season. I thought yesterday was the last time we played them this season, but it turns out we get another shot at sweeping the season series against them on the second last game of the year (which will probably have playoff implications).

Two different distinct Raptor teams played yesterday. In the first half, we saw a team that shared the ball, got good shots and knocked them down. They rotated on defense, kept there man in front of them, and played a full 24 minutes of quality ball. The second half saw a team that had no energy. No one played defense, rotations weren’t there, they couldn’t score and looked like the Nets (for the 3rd). They got back their scoring touch in the 4th, but the movement wasn’t the same as the first half.

Rebounding was miserable for the whole game, lets get that out of the way now. The Pistons grabbed 10 offensive boards in the 1st quarter. TEN! Perspective: the Raptors grabbed 7 total boards (6 defensive). The Pistons have not been able to get good shots off against the Raptors for some reason. We have enough athleticism and quickness to keep their guards/wings out of their comfort zones for long enough stretches to build big leads, but their bigs rebound the crap out of the ball and kept them within reach throughout the whole game.

You know who is a good positional forward who does nothing but stand between his man and backboard? Rasho. The guy who got a DNP-COACHES DECISION. Blows me away. I’m not saying to play him the whole game, but how about long enough to keep the Detroit bigs out of the key to give a breather from the relentless attack on the boards? I can’t put all the rebounding burden on the Bosh/Bargnani, they pulled down 22 of the teams 36. No other Raptors grabbed more then 3 rebounds last night. It can’t all be on these two, everyone needs to chip in.

Rebounding aside, the offense sputtered magnificently in the 3rd to the tune of 14 points after the Raptors scored 60 in the 1st half. The whole team came out of the half flat. Aside from Bargnani who was trying to score inside of 8 feet, it was all jumpers. There was no attempt to get in the paint for a layup/dunk, or to draw a foul and get to the line. The Raptors actually only got to the line at the end of the 3rd when Bargnani/Banks hit 4 of 6.

So this is what I don’t get. the Pistons open the 3rd on a 9-2 run, and instead of putting in Belinelli or Weems who can score some, Wright gets the call. Defense wasn’t what was needed. I threw Belinelli under the bus, but he did score a few yesterday. Weems slashes and gets to the rack. These are qualities you need when you are in a shooting funk, Wright doesn’t have any of this. All this bumbling resulted in about 8 scoreless minutes in the 3rd.

I actually liked what I saw in the 4th. The Pistons closed the gap to 2, but the Raptors didn’t fold. They responded shot for shot, and made key defenisve rotations down the stretch. The Pistons attack was still relentless, but Jack/Weems/Turkoglu were all active on the wing, Bargnani was contesting shots and Bosh was rotating down low. Nothing came super easy which is what you want to see. On the other end, the last 10 Raptor points were at the line, or a Weems dunk aka everything was inside. It broke the Pistons back because they couldn’t make a stop when they needed too.

The refs did have a hand in this game, but the Raptors went to the line 44 times last night. You can’t tell me that we didn’t benefit from the poor officiating. Sure it helped the Pistons get back into the game, but hitting 32 of 44 was the difference in this game.

Quick thoughts:

  • I thought DeRozan/Weems/Belinelli/Wright did a great job by committee on Hamilton and Gordon.
  • The Raptors do seem to be gelling. They aren’t there yet, but you heard them talking to each other during the game yesterday.
  • I think Antoine Wright has a contribution to make to this team, but only on defense. If he only worries about stopping his man, and hitting OPEN shot attempts, I can live with that.
  • I also wont complain about Bargnani if he ups his rebounding to 8 or so a game. He’s at 6.1 right now, so it’s not out of the realm of impossibility, is it?
  • Even though Turkoglu disappeared in the 2nd half, him and Jack have great chemistry when running the offense. I love the constant charge towards the rim.
  • We need to handle Charlotte because once January hits, we have @Boston, San Antonio, @Orlando, @Philly and Boston in a row, not a great way to ring in the new year.
  • The next game against the Pistons is going to be a tough one, and may have huge seeding implications for both Toronto and Detroit.

Sorry this got up so late, Rogers was not doing me any favours this morning, happy Monday.

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