Detroit Pistons powered by Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant in 116-112 win over Toronto Raptors

Detroit Free Press

After losing several of their core players for six games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Toronto Raptors mostly returned to full strength on Wednesday — right on time to play the Detroit Pistons.

Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn were cleared to play, and VanVleet and Siakam resumed their spots in the starting lineups. The Pistons put together one of their best shooting performances of the season, however, and left Little Caesars Arena with a win.

Behind a strong performance by Saddiq Bey, the Pistons defeated the Raptors, 116-112. Bey tallied a double-double with 28 points and 12 rebounds and knocked down six of his 10 3-point attempts. Jerami Grant added 23 points and three blocks, and Delon Wright nearly logged a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

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Mason Plumlee also had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Josh Jackson put up 16 points, six assists and five rebounds before fouling out.

Norman Powell led Toronto with 43 points (14-for-17 overall, 8-for-11 from 3), and made the Pistons sweat late with a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the final minute. Chris Boucher added 21 points.

First crowd of season delivers hype

Wednesday was the first game this season in which fans were allowed to purchase tickets. While Little Caesars Arena didn’t quite hit the 750-fan limit permitted by the state, it was still a festive crowd. Many fans wore green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,

A few “MVP” chants rained down on Jerami Grant while he attempted two free throws in the fourth quarter, and fans rose to their feet when Grant iced the game with a stepback jumper with 7.7 seconds left.

Isaiah Stewart: Shooter?

Stewart’s potential as a threat from outside has been oft-hinted at this season. Virtually since they drafted him, Troy Weaver and Dwane Casey have expounded their belief that he can expand his range and eventually play some power forward, along with center.

Entering Wednesday, he had hit two of his seven attempts on the season — not enough for defenses to respect him, but enough to re-affirm his perimeter game is developing rapidly.

Last week, Casey said he could see Stewart playing the four by this time next year. Stewart may be a little ahead of schedule, after going 2-for-2 from 3 against the Raptors. It was his first time this season hitting multiple 3s in a game. Both 3-pointers hit as the shot clock expired, but his form was good and he’s clearly comfortable taking them.

The pair of 3s brought him to 4-for-9 on the season, a tidy 44.4%.

Saddiq Bey continues his historic season as a shooter

An eye-popping graphic recently appeared on the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast. Through his first 35 games, Bey had hit 76 3-pointers — the third-highest total in NBA history behind only Luka Doncic and Lauri Markkanen.

He has added a few more since then. Wednesday was one of his best outings of the season and marked his eighth game with more than four 3-pointers, fifth with more than five and third with at least six. Allan Houston is the only other rookie in Pistons history to hit six 3-pointers in a game.

Frank Jackson logs first start

The Pistons’ guard rotation has been hit hard by injuries. Wayne Ellington missed his second straight game with a right adductor strain, and Rodney McGruder and Dennis Smith Jr. both picked up “Did Not Plays” after appearing on the injury report before the game.

It cleared the way for guard Frank Jackson, on a two-way contract, to log his first start of the season. He had seven points and two assists in 31 minutes and made a couple nice plays. He couldn’t carry his momentum as a shooter from Monday over, though. After knocking down a season-high two of his four attempts against the Spurs, he missed all three against the Raptors.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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