The Detroit Pistons haven’t given a lot of teams trouble this season, but they’ve been the Raptors’ big brother when the two teams have matched up.
No purple nurples or wedgies, but just dominance in every facet of the game.
No matter who plays, no matter what the circumstance, the Raptors are left flailing when they come up against the Pistons this season who only have 10 wins beyond the three they have now taken from the Raptors this season.
For the third time this year and first with all their key players, the Raptors again came up short against the Pistons dropping this one 118-104 for the Raptors 12th loss in the past 13 games.
The only positive from a Toronto viewpoint is it marked the final meeting of the season between the two teams.
Even the rookies gave the Raptors the little brother treatment going at them with both speed and physicality and more often than not getting the results they wanted.
The Pistons two leading scorers on the night were both rookies – Saddiq Bey and Saben Lee with 19 points each. Second-year guard Hamidou Diallo also had 19 coming off the Pistons bench along with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Then there was former Raptor Cory Joseph, a rare veteran on Dwane Casey’s roster, who only just arrived in Detroit from Sacramento in a trade deadline deal that sent another Raptor Delon Wright west.
Joseph, still finding his way in Detroit, looked in this game like he had been there his whole career coming off the bench and providing 15 points to ensure any comeback the Raptors might have considered wasn’t an option any longer.
Head coach Nick Nurse called this latest loss on the back end of a back-to-back a worrisome trend.
“It’s been difficult on these back to backs,” Nurse began. “We’ve gotten hammered pretty good on some of them and it’s becoming a little bit of a trend that we don’t like. It’s funny because we’ve really been really good on them historically, I don’t have the numbers or anything like that at all. I don’t keep track of that stuff, but I know we’ve won a bunch of back to backs and won the back end of the bunch, but lately, especially, it’s been really tough, right?”
Nurse though was not questioning his players’ effort.
“ I don’t know, you just can see a half step slow on everything we’re doing, not quite enough lift on the finishes, not quite enough lift on the jump shots, etc,” he said. “And it’s hard if we’re not playing with energy, it’s going to be difficult, and we were trying. I know it doesn’t look like it maybe, but those guys were trying to get moving, they just couldn’t quite keep up with them and get out to shooters enough and things like that and then it just kind of piles up on you.”
Fred VanVleet tried to keep the Raptors within comeback distance with his three-point game interspersed with attacks on the Pistons paint, but his 22 for the game merely kept this one from blowout status.
Pascal Siakam, who spent the same three weeks in the league’s health and safety protocols as VanVleet, had his first subpar game in the last five as early foul trouble and a lack of finish limited him to just 14 points on the night before eventually fouling out of the game.