Detroit Pistons’ furious late comeback falls short vs. Raptors, 119-118, in Toronto

Detroit Free Press

TORONTO — After a slow start, the Detroit Pistons threatened a comeback.

Toronto Raptors stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam ensured it didn’t happen.

The Pistons fell to the Raptors on the road, 119-118, after VanVleet led all scorers with 35 points and Siakam added 28. VanVleet, who also had eight assists, hit three 3-pointers in the first five minutes as the Raptors built an early 12-point lead. He scored 20 points before halftime. Siakam took over from there, scoring 22 in the second half.

Two 3-pointers in the final 11 seconds by Jaden Ivey (18 points, seven assists) helped the Pistons outscore Toronto, 13-5, in the final 1:21 and make the final margin closer than most of the fourth quarter reflected. Detroit trailed by 11 with 2:48 to play.

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Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 33 points, and Alec Burks (21 points) and Hamidou Diallo (18 points, seven rebounds) both had strong nights off the bench. Isaiah Stewart scored in double figures, making three of four 3-pointers and finishing with 16 points. Detroit was limited by turnovers, committing six in the first nine minutes of the first quarter and finishing with 16.

Casey praised Ivey, who only turned the ball over twice and conducted the team’s late comeback attempt.

“I thought Ivey did an excellent job taking us home down the stretch,” Casey said. “He had two turnovers. That’s growth on his part as a young point guard in our league, another growing part of his game.”

A layup by Chris Boucher gave the Raptors a 23-11 lead with three minutes remaining in the opening period. But Burks scored 11 points in four first-quarter minutes to power a 20-8 Pistons run that tied the game at 31 early in the second. Detroit took its first and only lead of the afternoon shortly before halftime, going up 51-47 following a layup from Stewart and three free throws from Bogdanovic. But Detroit trailed during the entire fourth quarter and final 10 minutes of the third.

Jalen Duren (six points, four rebounds) tweaked his right ankle with 7:20 to play in the second quarter after walking backwards into Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa and exited the game. He returned to start the third quarter, but exited again midway through the fourth. Stewart played close to 38 minutes to compensate.

“He wanted to go, but just trying to go up and down the floor, when they were attacking he couldn’t pivot and move,” Casey said. “I thought Isaiah came in, he logged a lot of minutes. Hopefully it’s not something that’s long-lasting.”

Siakam helps Raptors take over in third quarter

Casey, who coached the Raptors from 2011-18, praised Siakam during the pregame media availability. The 27th pick of the 2016 draft was recently selected to his second All-Star game. Casey acknowledged that while Siakam was an extremely hard worker, he didn’t expect the Raptor to reach stardom.

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Sunday showcased why Siakam, who entered the game averaging a career-high 25.2 points, has become one of the NBA’s best scorers. He finished the first half with just six points on 2-for-9 shooting before finding his rhythm in the third quarter, scoring 11 points in the period to help Toronto take the lead for good. A 3-pointer midway through the period capped a 14-6 Raptors run that extended their lead to nine.

“That young man is a great player, he’s made himself into a great player,” Casey said after the game. “They have two championship players who have carried them on in Pascal and Fred. They were the difference in the game. They carried the team. We tried to double-team, but Pascal did a great job of going to work before the double team could get there. They did a good job with their spacing, and Fred made some tough shots. Fred set the tone for them early.”

Siakam kept rolling in the fourth, knocking down his first four shots of the quarter en route to giving the Raptors a 14-point lead two minutes into the period. Siakam’s hot streak coincided with a cold stretch for the Pistons, who hit just six of 16 shot attempts in the third after closing the first half with a run and controlling most of the second quarter.

Wiseman’s debut delayed

Many Pistons were eager to see James Wiseman, the Pistons’ trade deadline acquisition last Thursday, make his debut on Sunday. The Pistons, and Wiseman, certainly hoped that would be the case. But he was ruled “OUT” on the 1:30 p.m. injury report as the Golden State Warriors had yet to make a decision on the trade’s fate after Gary Payton II failed his physical on Friday night.

Thursday’s four-team trade, which saw Wiseman, the Warriors’ 2020 No. 2 overall pick, traded to Detroit and former Pistons Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox sent to the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively, was still in limbo an hour before Detroit’s 3 p.m. game on Sunday. But the Athletic’s Shams Charania reported minutes after the game ended that the Warriors approved the trade despite Gary Payton II failing his physical.

Wiseman, who went through his physical on Friday, was with the Pistons in Toronto and could make his debut in Boston on Wednesday before in the final game before All-Star break.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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