Pistons come to Toronto and bounce back at the Raptors’ expense

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This will not be considered one of Toronto’s best defensive efforts of the season.

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The Detroit Pistons made it to Scotiabank Arena, the worst shooting team in the league.

True, it’s still relatively early in the season, but the Pistons, over 11 games, started the night shooting just 39.5% from the field, the only team in the Association to shoot below 40%.

The fact that the Pistons were on the back-end of a back-to-back didn’t seem to amplify that negative aspect, although one might have expected that to be the case.

Instead, the Pistons came out and shot more than 54% for the game and just under 43% for three, another stat where they started last night in while teasing the more rested Raptors 127-121.

Toronto was playing without Fred VanVleet (groin pain) and Precious Achiuwa (tight shoulder), but that doesn’t explain the sudden turnaround for Pistons shooters.

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The only shooter who really struggled from the Pistons’ perspective was No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who was only 4 of 10 on the night, though two of his marks came behind the arc.

Everyone else in the red and blue vistiting had a night of improvement led by Jerami Grant, who had 22 with Isiaiah Stewart, a guy who is turning into one of those Raptors killers, finished with 9 of 10 shots from the field for 20 points.

The Raptors made a brave run at the end by coming back up to 11 with under five to play to cut the lead to three, but that was as close as they could get. The Pistons had finally located their shooting touch and weren’t about to let it go to waste.

The Raptors were led by Pascal Siakam, who scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.

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Right on Siakam’s heels was Gary Trent Jr., who was 23, including four from long range.

Toronto didn’t help their own cause by going just 20 of 31 from the free throw line.

Former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey is now 7-3 against the Raptors since he was relieved of his duties here and landed the job in Detroit.

THE INJURY FRONT

The Raptors’ depth was challenged a bit last night with the surprise announcement that Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a groin strain for a while and would not be playing in last night’s game.

Goran Dragic, a guy who came up with the Raptors sign-and-trade deal that targeted Precious Achiuwa has been much more of a spectator than a participant since Game 4 of the season.

In fact, Dragic hasn’t played since a 111-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

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The Raptors also didn’t have Achiuwa for last night’s game, but that loss was offset by the return of Khem Birch, who missed both road games in Boston and Philadelphia with a swollen knee.

Achiuwa hit his shoulders according to head coach Nick Nurse sometime at the end of the win over the Sixers and woke up more sore than when he lay down on that shoulder area.

HOW TO RIDE A BIKE

Casey is back to the type of work that she excelled at in Toronto. Take a young team and make it a constant winner. The Detroit Pistons aren’t there yet, but they seem to have the building blocks to become the kind of constant winner that the Raptors became in Toronto under Casey’s watchful eye.

He starts with No. 1 pick Cunningham, who got off to a late start to his rookie year due to an ankle injury but hasn’t given anyone, including Casey, any reason to doubt the Pistons are going to be very happy with their No. 1 pick.

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“It’s a sponge,” Casey said. “He loves the game. He is a student of the game. He’s not your typical YouTube kid. He is a student who takes his craft seriously. He takes his job seriously. You say once and then it’s ‘OK, I get it’. He wants to learn and do the right thing, which will make him a great player in this league for a long time. “

Cunningham joins a team with a trio of second-year players who have many advantages in point guard Killian Hayes, center Isiah Stewart and guard / forward Saddiq Bey.

Jerami Grant, an eighth-year NBA player, provides the high-level scoring at the moment, but will soon give way to players like Cunningham, Bey and Hayes.

Casey has seen this before seeing the likes of Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby take the leap and hopes to see it again soon.

“It’s exciting for me just because it’s pure training,” Casey said before the game. “Sometimes you want to pull your hair out because some nights guys make plays and the next night they don’t recognize or recognize each other or on a basketball. But it is exciting.

“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We are probably a couple of years away from getting there. We totally narrowed it down to draft picks, so it’s a challenge, but we have some great young pieces. Right now, although it’s about finding some coherence. “

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