Pistons 102 – Raptors 101: Charity case

The Raptors collapsed in Q4, allowing the Pistons to steal a game they had no business being in.

In a shocking and disturbing fashion, the Toronto Raptors donated a victory to the Detroit Pistons. Just as in Minnesota, the Raps coughed up a hefty lead in Q4, and threw away a 5-point lead in the game’s final 1:23.

The Raptors entered Q4 in complete control, having turned a 6-point halftime lead into 16 with confident shooting and strong defense. Then whatever worm is eating at the Raps’ confidence showed up once again. An oddball collection of Pistons outplayed the Raptors’ starters in all aspects of the game. Lucas Nogueira, Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll were all minus_17 in Q4.

No rebounding – no win

Jonas Valanciunas, who had been having huge difficulty controlling Andre Drummond all game, made both shots he tried in Q4. That was fine, but Drummond grabbed 8 of the Pistons’ 14 boards, while Toronto could pull down only 4. The Raps were one & done repeatedly, and with DeRozan making one basket on 6 attempts, the lack of second-chance opportunities spelled defeat.

The Pistons should be given credit for not folding despite Toronto being in control virtually all night. They were particularly effective at stifling the Raptors’ 3-point shooting. Toronto took only 16 shots from beyond the arc, making half. We can’t win like that. Terrence Ross took 2 long shots in 18+ minutes. Who’s running this team’s offense, Nick Nurse or DeRozan?

Feb 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) shoots a ball at the basket over Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) during the first quarter in a game at Air Canada Centre.The Pistons won 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) shoots a ball at the basket over Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) during the first quarter in a game at Air Canada Centre.The Pistons won 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Why can’t they win close ones?

Toronto’s players need to take some long, hard looks in the mirror. Their recent losses have been characterized by a baffling inability to close out the final few minutes. The Raps enjoyed a superb run in the middle of Q2, turning a 5-point deficit into a 12-point lead, then couldn’t manage a point in the final 2:39. Detroit crept back. That was a dress rehearsal for their Q4 takedown, in which the only time they were ahead was at the end. Following Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s only made 3-pointer of the match, DeRozan missed at the buzzer.

It’s all very hard to cope with, or write about intelligently. Why can’t DeRozan make any shots late in games? He’s some distance from Bob “Big Shot” Horry at the moment.

The Raptors play in Chicago tomorrow night, face Charlotte at home on Wednesday, then are off until the 24th.

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