Detroit — There’s something different about the Pistons when they play Dwane Casey’s former team, the Toronto Raptors.
Whatever the secret is, it’s working.
The Pistons, coming off a 46-point loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, turned the tables and dominated the Raptors, using a second-quarter push to help in a 103-87 victory on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the fifth straight win in the head-to-head series for the Pistons, including a 127-121 win at Toronto on Nov. 13. The victory also was the fourth straight at home for the Pistons (10-31), who have won five of their last eight games overall.
“I think our energy has been better in the games that we’ve won,” forward Trey Lyles said. “I think in the games that we’ve dropped, our energy level has been low and we’ve been lackadaisical to start at first and third (quarters).
“I think in those games that we’ve won, we’ve been upbeat and playing well together. We’ve been defensive-minded and it showed tonight.”
Lyles led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, Hamidou Diallo 18 points and six rebounds and Cade Cunningham 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Pistons led wire-to-wire and never trailed in the game. They had their largest lead of the season, 21 points, at the 10:59 mark of the fourth quarter, following a 3-pointer by Cory Joseph, a former Raptor.
Toronto wasn’t done, though. The Raptors (20-19) used a 13-0 run to get the lead down to eight.
They a putback from Pascal Siakam (23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) and back-to-back 3-pointers from Fred VanVleet (24 points, five rebounds and 10 assists), plus a dunk by Precious Achiuwa and another 3-pointer from VanVleet — who finished with six 3-pointers — to get within eight with 3:39 left.
Killian Hayes (five points, six rebounds and five assists) ended the run with a drive and basket, but Siakam countered with a lay-in to get the lead back to single digits, 93-85, at the 2:55 mark.
The Pistons were able to put it away with a 3-pointer from Cunningham and two free throws from Bey, extending the lead to 13 with just under two minutes remaining, and they held on the rest of the way.
“I said before the game that tonight is going to determine a little bit of our backbone and see who we are,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Even being a young team, I thought we bounced back with the proper approach, focus and energy.”
The big win was set up by a big first half.
The Pistons jumped ahead in the first quarter, with a 16-6 run midway through the period. Cunningham had seven points during the run, with a reverse lay-in, a dunk and a three-point play. Diallo added eight points, including three dunks, and the lead was 23-13.
The Raptors finished with a 12-5 spurt, with two free throws and a three-point play from Boucher and a 3-pointer and two free throws from VanVleet. The Pistons held a 31-27 lead entering the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Pistons added to the lead, spurred by Lyles, who had 12 points in the period. The Raptors closed within six, but Lyles had a three-point play and a pair of free throws, pushing the lead back to double digits. The Pistons had an 8-0 run, with a drive and finish and a floater by Cunningham, and the lead was up to 16, before going into halftime with a 56-43 advantage.
With center Isaiah Stewart in foul trouble, Lyles held down the middle for the Pistons for most of the game, playing against the Raptors’ bigger frontline.
“We’re undersized every game,” Casey said. “We’re small and Trey Lyles, for what he did at his position with 21 points and seven rebounds, I thought he did a yeoman’s job.
“Here’s a guy who’s a forward who’s in there battling with three 7-footers and he did an excellent job in there mixing it up.”