The Detroit Pistons used an 8-0 fourth-quarter run to tie their Saturday matinee against the Toronto Raptors with fewer than four minutes remaining, but a controversial call helped seal their fate in a 95-91 loss at Little Caesars Arena.
A poster dunk by Isaiah Livers and a pair of free throws by Jaden Ivey brought the Pistons within 91-90 at the 53-second mark.
But late-game execution cost the Pistons (15-46) a come-from-behind win. All-Star Pascal Siakam made two free throws with 11 seconds left to give the Raptors (30-31) a 93-90 cushion, and Toronto fouled Marvin Bagley III with 4.3 seconds left on the other end. Bagley split his trip to the line, and Siakam made two free throws to clinch victory.
The Pistons felt Bagley was in his shooting motion and should have been given three attempts and a chance to tie the game.
“I have no clue (why), and that boggles my mind with four seconds to go,” frustrated Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What else are you going to do? There’s no explanation. They didn’t give him the 3-point shot. We needed a 3. He was going into his shooting motion, and I don’t know what the conversation was afterwards.”
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Bagley, who returned from a 20-game absence after suffering two metacarpal fractures in his right hand, shined in his first game back with 21 points and 18 rebounds — 11 on the offensive end.
“I was trying to get in the right spots, just being out and watching the games,” Bagley said postgame. “I started seeing small things that I could do. I think today I tried to apply it, and it worked. Now I have to keep continuing to grow and keep learning how to keep continuing to expand on that and keep getting better.”
James Wiseman started his first game as a Piston and finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. Ivey also had a double-double with 10 points (3-for-16 shooting), 10 assists and three turnovers. Siakam led all scorers with 29 points.
Pistons rookie Jalen Duren missed the game while dealing with soreness in both ankles. Isaiah Stewart (five points, nine rebounds) exited with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter with right hip soreness, leaving the Pistons with Wiseman and Bagley as their big men down the stretch.
Newly signed R.J. Hampton made his Pistons debut and played five second-quarter minutes, finishing with no shot attempts and one steal.
It was a poor shooting night from both teams, as the Pistons finished 40.4% overall and the Raptors shot 37.5%. But Toronto benefitted from a big free throw advantage, 22 of 34 attempts. The Pistons shot 14 free throws, making nine; Bagley was 3-for-8.
“To have a 34 to 14 discrepancy, I gotta look at the film and see the difference,” Casey said. “Both teams are playing aggressive man. … But I liked our toughness, our aggressiveness. Our defense has gotten better. But with that, you still gotta score in today’s game and Pascal got away from us a few times. We’re trying to catch him and double team him. I like where our defense is right now.”
The Pistons play at Charlotte on Monday.
Bagley has big day in return
The Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings had a historic night on Friday, as both teams combined for the second-highest scoring tally in NBA history in a 176-175 overtime finish. Saturday’s matinee between the Pistons and Raptors was far from that, as both teams shot below 40% overall and combined for 61 missed shots in the first half.
It was a good day for strong rebounders, and Bagley capitalized on the bevy of bricks for a big statline in his first game since Jan. 2. He had a halftime double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and eight of those boards came on offense.
He checked in for Wiseman just after the midway point of the first quarter, and got going toward the end of the period. His first bucket came on a jump hook, and he finished a layup in transition through the teeth of Toronto’s defense off a perfectly placed pass through traffic from Ivey. He ended the quarter with a split trip at the free throw line, giving him seven points in the final 1:25 of the opening period.
Seven of Bagley’s 11 offensive rebounds came in the second quarter — two on a pair of tipped-in missed layups from Hamidou Diallo. Bagley gave Detroit’s offense a needed dimension as a rebounder adept at scoring on second-chance opportunities. It remains to be seen how Casey will juggle the rotation when Wiseman, Duren, Stewart and Bagley are all healthy at the same time, but Bagley made a strong case to secure his spot.
Ivey’s playmaking stands out
Ivey’s continual improvement as a playmaker is establishing him as a genuine lead point guard, rather than a secondary option. February has been his best month in that area, as he entered Saturday with 42 assists against 20 turnovers — his first month with an assist-to-turnover ratio above 2-1.
Saturday was one of Ivey’s finest playmaking performances. He assisted Detroit’s first three buckets, finding Wiseman for a layup over Jakob Poeltl, driving and dumping off to Wiseman for a dunk, and driving and kicking to Stewart for a 3-pointer to give the Pistons an early 7-3 lead. Toward the end of the period, he threaded the needle on a pass through several players to get Bagley a layup for his fifth assist of the quarter.
Unlike his 25-point performance against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, Ivey struggled to make shots against Toronto, making three of 16 attempts. But it didn’t limit his ability to find teammates.
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Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.