The starting lineup brought energy from the opening tip and set the tone for the game with 37 points and a six-point lead after the first quarter.
The game tightened in the fourth quarter but Josh Jackson shot and made a confident deep ball for three of his 16 points off the bench to push the Detroit lead to six late. The Raptors continued to fight hard to eventually get within three with less than a minute left.
Enter Jerami Grant.
With a one-possession lead and less than 10 seconds on the game clock, the Pistons’ leading scorer found the ball in his hands. He created space in isolation and nailed a huge midrange jumper against Kyle Lowry.
Norman Powell answered with a three to cap off an excellent night of 43 points on only 18 shots. But Saddiq Bey responded with two clutch free throws to close it out.
The Villanova rookie was the standout among the starters. Bey scored 28 points while making six of his 10 attempts from deep. He was equally strong on the boards, grabbing 12 big rebounds including multiple tough, important snatches in the fourth quarter to complete defensive possessions.
Delon Wright and Mason Plumlee also notched double-doubles on efficient shooting. Detroit’s leading scorer Jerami Grant added 23 of his own.
Isaiah Stewart was his usual impressive self coming off the bench, nailing two in-rhythm threes while defending a versatile Toronto team from one-to-five in a variety of ways. He had a few especially impressive plays where he absolutely moved Raptors center Chris Boucher wherever he wanted him to go.
Following a strong finish to the previous Spurs game, Sekou Doumbouya saw the floor much more than he has in recent memory. The Pistons sophomore played a rollercoaster 16 minutes but was noticeably active following his only bucket of the night. Doumbouya continues to struggle with his evolving shooting motion, but playing hard and finding the ball will help him earn more consistent minutes.
The Raptors were close to full strength tonight, but Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam were clearly not in game shape after longish layoffs. Still, Detroit reminded its fans of how fun they can be when the shots are falling. For a young, bad team, it’s something to build on.