Pistons’ skid hits 4 with 95-91 loss to Raptors

Detroit News

Detroit — The new-look Pistons, eagerly looking to snap a three-game losing streak, hosted the Toronto Raptors in a low-scoring matinee at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday afternoon.

It was a close contest throughout, as neither team led by more than six points until the Pistons reached a seven-point lead late in the third quarter. Offense was hard to come by, and the game was predicated on the defensive end. The 3-pointer wasn’t going down for either team, so Detroit had to rely on their inside scoring, while Toronto lived at the free-throw line.

However, the Raptors put together enough impactful plays to escape with a 95-91 victory in front of a split crowd on Saturday. It marked the Pistons’ fourth loss in a row after recent defeats to the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

BOX SCORE: Raptors 95, Pistons 91

Little Caesars Arena, which is usually a split crowd during Raptors games because of its close proximity to Windsor, Canada, was roaring with claps and cheers nearly every time Toronto scored, especially in the waning moments of the game.

“Let’s go Raptors!!” chants broke out with five minutes left as Toronto led by eight points. However, the Pistons went on a quick 8-0 run to tie the game at 84 thanks to timely scores by Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo.

With three minutes left and the game in the balance, Detroit was down by three when Isaiah Livers threw down a vicious one-handed slam on Jakob Poeltl, bringing the Pistons within one.

As a result, the Detroit fans overwhelmingly out-cheered the Raptors fans inside the building.

The Pistons trailed 91-88 with less than one minute remaining when Jaden Ivey was fouled by Poeltl. The rookie guard, who’s had trouble at the free-throw line this season, confidently knocked down both freebies to bring Detroit within one.

With a chance to take the lead, Marvin Bagley III missed a running hook, which set up free throws for Pascal Siakam. The Pistons’ final chance, down three with 11 seconds left, came as Bagley attempted a 3-pointer and was fouled with 4.1 seconds left . However, instead of the call resulting in three free throws, the ruling was on the floor and the Pistons shot two free throws since Toronto was in the penalty, which sparked an emotional response from coach Dwane Casey. The moment ended the Pistons chance to come out with a win.

Bagley, in his first game back from a right hand injury, led the Pistons with 21 points and 18 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic added 11 points and nine rebounds. Diallo and Livers also chipped in 11 points. James Wiseman had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Isaiah Stewart, who left the game in the middle of the third quarter with right hip soreness, finished with five points and nine rebounds.

The Raptors were led by Siakam, who totaled 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Siakam was the most aggressive Toronto player on Saturday, as he got to the free-throw line a game-high 13 times. 10 of his points were from the free-throw line.

Gary Trent Jr. finished with 19 points and four assists. Scottie Barnes added 10 points and six rebounds.

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Here are a couple of more observations from Saturday’s win:

▶ Wiseman’s first start: Without Jalen Duren, who was unavailable due to bilateral ankle soreness, Wiseman received his first start since joining the Pistons. The game also marked his home debut at Little Caesars Arena after playing his first two games in opposing arenas. The Pistons wasted no time prioritizing Wiseman on the offensive end. They had a designed play for him on the opening possession as Ivey lobbed him the ball, and Wiseman threw up a jump-hook that went down. On the next play down, Ivey penetrated into the paint, attracted a couple of defenders and slipped a pass to Wiseman for a two-handed dunk. Stewart, who’s known Wiseman since both were in high school, found Wiseman in the third quarter for another slam. Wiseman will be the recipient of a lot of dump passes and lobs, especially when Cade Cunningham returns next season. He was hindered by foul trouble with four fouls, but his first game in front of Pistons fans should leave them optimistic with the former No. 2 overall pick.

▶ Bagley returns: After missing 20 games due to fractured metacarpals in his right hand, Bagley returned to the Pistons lineup for the first time since Jan. 2. He was among the first substitutions off the bench late in the first quarter. He missed his first jump-hook and 3-pointer, but he rebounded and defended well. 13 was a magic number for Bagley on Saturday as he totaled a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds in 13 minutes of action in the first half. With Wiseman in foul trouble, Bagley made the most of his time on the floor as he tipped in misses, part of his 11 offensive rebounds.

▶ Ivey’s vision: All eyes were on Ivey coming off his 25-point performance against the Magic. However, Ivey played the role of facilitator in Saturday’s game. He dished out five assists in the first quarter alone, part of his 10 dimes overall. His most impressive helper was a lead pass to Bagley at the end of the first quarter, which was perfectly placed so the fifth-year big man could simply lay the ball in. Ivey was one assist shy of his career-high of 11, which he totaled on Jan. 23 against Milwaukee. There will be some nights when the Pistons need Ivey to score, and others when he needs to look for his teammates. His decision to keep Wiseman engaged and active while re-integrating Bagley showed growth coming off an impressive individual performance.

RJ Hampton debut: Former Orlando Magic guard RJ Hampton checked into the game for the Pistons at the 8:15 mark of the second quarter, which was slightly surprising considering he hadn’t practiced with the team since his signing on Thursday. However, his time on the floor was brief as he didn’t record any stats in his four minutes of action.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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