Toronto — The Pistons were one of four NBA teams in action on Super Bowl Sunday.
It was a Sunday that was overshadowed by “The Big Game,” but also because the fate of the four-team trade to acquire James Wiseman was hanging in the balance due to the impending decision by the Golden State Warriors.
Wiseman, who was acquired hours before the NBA trade deadline, wasn’t able to play on Sunday because the trade had not been officially completed, so the Pistons had to face the Toronto Raptors without him.
In a game of runs and turnovers, the Raptors began on an offensive tear before Detroit took command of the game from the end of the first quarter until halftime. The Raptors started the third quarter on a 14-6 run capped by a 3-pointer by Pascal Siakam. He continued to have success, scoring 22 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Raptors to a 119-118 win over the Pistons.
BOX SCORE: Raptors 119, Pistons 118
Detroit nearly overcame the 14-point fourth quarter deficit after clutch baskets by Jaden Ivey, but it was too little, too late.
“I think the fight’s been there,” said Hamidou Diallo, who had 18 points off the bench. “We’re playing with confidence. We’re playing well together. I think it’s more attention to detail and the little things. Turning the ball over, fouling when we don’t need to. Just little things like that. I feel like overall, we’re trending in the right direction.”
Despite his second-half surge, Siakam’s best play of the game was an assist to Chris Boucher in which Siakam threw a pass behind his back, which looked more like a turnover. Boucher caught the ball in stride and threw down a dunk with both hands. After the play, Siakam threw on imaginary “vision goggles” to celebrate his no-look pass.
“That’s why he’s an All-Star. That man is a great player and made himself into a great player,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Their two championship players that carried them home with Pascal and (Fred VanVleet). They were the difference in the game. We tried to double-team but Pascal did a great job of going to work before the double-team got there. Those two are All-Stars for a reason.”
Detroit finished with 18 turnovers, which Toronto converted into 14 points. Pistons guard Cory Joseph, who played for the Raptors for two seasons, had four of those giveaways.
Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin served as Toronto’s acting head coach Sunday as Nick Nurse missed the game due to personal reasons.
VanVleet led the Raptors with 35 points and eight assists. He made 6-of-13 from the 3-points line. Scottie Barnes added 20 points and four rebounds.
▶ Strong finish to first quarter: The Pistons trailed by as many as 12 points early in the first quarter. A large part of that was due to VanVleet’s 16-point barrage that included three 3-pointers. However, Detroit went on a scoring binge to close the period with 15 points in the final three minutes to inch within two before the quarter ended. It was another example of the Pistons’ ability to claw back into a game, something it’s done time and time again this season. However, Detroit needs to do a better job of starting the game with the same intensity.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 33 points and five rebounds for the Pistons. Alec Burks had 21 points.
Here are a few other observations from Sunday’s loss:
▶ Dwane Casey’s homecoming: Casey’s Pistons had beaten the Raptors six consecutive times before Detroit lost to Toronto on Nov. 15 at Little Caesars Arena. The latest iteration against this former team was met with open arms. Fans inside Scotiabank Arena gave Casey a warm ovation when he was introduced after the Pistons’ starting lineups. Casey, who he coached for seven seasons from 2011-18, left the floor on the losing end of the matchup for the second consecutive time. He’ll have two more meetings against the Raptors: once in Detroit on Feb. 25 and another in Toronto on March 24.
▶ Duren suffers injury: Pistons rookie Jalen Duren entered Sunday afternoon coming off the best game of his career after notching 30 points and 17 rebounds against the Spurs. However, in the first half of Sunday’s matinee, his health became in question when he collided with Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa. Duren had difficulty finishing between a crowd of defenders and when he backpedaled into Achiuwa before suffering an apparent right ankle injury. He tried to walk on his own power, but was unable to until his teammates helped him to the bench. At halftime, the Pistons ruled him questionable to return but Duren was back on the court at the start of the third quarter. He dunked home one of his signature slams in the fourth quarter, but He still wasn’t as productive as he was on Friday. He finished with just six points and four rebounds.
▶ Ivey’s foul troubles: Jaden Ivey spent most of Sunday’s game with foul trouble. He picked up five fouls on the day, three of which occurred in the third quarter. Despite the foul trouble, Ivey scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Pistons within three with 10 seconds left. He nailed another 3 at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough as the Pistons lost by one point. The Pistons rookie guard has a knack for drawing fouls, especially in the midst of shooting mid-range jumpers, but Ivey will need to do his part and avoid ticky-tack fouls to stay on the floor.