| Detroit Free Press
Early in Wednesday’s game, it appeared that Wayne Ellington’s hot shooting would be the story for the Detroit Pistons.
But they ended up having so many strong performances, too many to single one player out. If there’s a proverbial game ball to hand out, it would be split between the first pair of Pistons to record triple-doubles in the same game since in almost 47 years.
Mason Plumlee (14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists) and Dennis Smith Jr. (10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) led the Pistons (10-25) to a 129-105 blowout victory against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Florida.
Ellington set season highs in points (25) and made 3-pointers (eight), Rodney McGruder and Saben Lee both scored 20 points off of the bench and Svi Mykhailiuk added 1. Lee’s 20 points were one shy of his career-high, and he also had seven assists.
Norman Powell led Toronto with 36 points.
It was one of the Pistons’ most complete games of the season, as two Pistons had triple-doubles in the same game for the first time since March 15, 1964. They appear to be ready to close the first half of their season on a strong note as they prepare to face the New York Knicks on the road Thursday.
Pistons survive without Grant, and then some
Jerami Grant missed his second game of the season due to a left quad contusion. Josh Jackson missed his third game due to a stomach illness. The Pistons had no trouble taking care of a Raptors team without Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, who all missed the game because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Dwane Casey said before the game that Grant isn’t expected to miss much time, and that his absence was precautionary. It’s unclear if he’ll return for Thursday’s game. But Wednesday showed that the Pistons may be in good hands until he returns. They had 40 assists on 48 made baskets, shot 20-for-41 (48.8%) from behind-the-arc and saw season-best performances from multiple players.
Ellington is back
Midway through the third quarter, Ellington calmly drained a deep 3-pointer from at least two steps behind the arc. He was already in the midst of one of his best performances of the season. If onlookers needed another sign that he’s re-found his shooting touch, that was it.
Ellington made eight of his 11 3-point attempts. It’s a welcome sight for the Pistons after he struggled for much of February, making only 15 of his 58 attempts last month, after shooting 52.2% from 3 in January.
McGruder delivers season-best performance
McGruder has been in and out of the rotation this season. Early on, Casey found opportunities for him in garbage time. When the Pistons were shorthanded at point guard, McGruder filled in.
The Pistons were especially shorthanded again Wednesday. McGruder filled that void with an all-around great performance. He hadn’t had more than eight points, five assists or 17 minutes in a game before Wednesday. He did much of his damage in the second quarter with eight points and three assists in 9:40 minutes. He hustled, defended and moved the ball well. Casey has praised McGruder’s daily approach and work ethic this season, and the veteran saved his best performance of the season for a night when the Pistons needed contributions from everyone.
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