Final: Pistons win third in four games with win over Raptors

Detroit Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons survived 22 turnovers and the final quarter-plus with Cade Cunningham on the bench in a 113-104 win over an injury-depleted Toronto Raptors team. The victory was Detroit’s third in four games.

I’d put the number of Pistons who had a good game on the night at roughly three, and that doesn’t include Jalen Duren who amassed 24 points and 23 rebounds against an undersized Raptors lineup. Duren dominated at times, but his defense was extremely poor and he was responsible for five of those 22 turnovers with some ill-advised decisions and sloppy play.

Duren’s scoring and rebounding prowess as a rim-running big are prolific, but there are elements of his game that need major improvement. His defense must be a big offseason priority.

The three players who performed well were James Wiseman, Cade Cunningham, and Isaiah Stewart. Wiseman continued his string of strong performances as the team’s backup center with six points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in 19 minutes. Wiseman still has extreme problems setting screens and positioning himself on defense, but he’s capitalizing on his length better than ever and eliminating enough of his mistakes to have a positive impact on the floor.

Cunningham, meanwhile, was by far the best player on either team for long stretches of the game, but he sat out the game’s final 15 minutes. Whether that was because head coach Monty Williams wanted to give Marcus Sasser and Jaden Ivey a chance to close the game out with the ball in their hands or if Cunningham wasn’t 100% is unclear. Cade finished with 19 points and six assists in 28 minutes.

Stewart only took six shots, but he was the team’s best defender by a mile and sank all three of his three-point attempts.

The Raptors were led by Immanuel Quickly with 25 points and former Piston big man Kelly Olynyk, who scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, mostly with Duren guarding him. Former Piston Bruce Brown scored 17 points. And former Motor City Cruise big man Johntay Porter had 10 points off the bench.

About those Cadeless minutes — they were ugly. Even by the standards of a typically ugly Pistons game with a five-man bench unit that barfed up Detroit’s lead, the final stretch of this game was ugly.

The Pistons were able to stretch the lead to 103-87 with just under 4 minutes remaining in the game. Based on when Cunningham sat down, you’d have expected him back on the floor at around the halfway mark, but he remained seated. He started to the scorer’s table with 3:51 remaining, but he was called back to the bench.

Williams, it seemed, had a feeling. This is when the wheels almost came off. Turnovers, mental lapses, inbounding miscues, zero defensive rotations. The Pistons had it all in the game’s final moments. Williams might have been trying to get his players to prove something, but it seems that all they proved is how much they need Cunningham on the floor.

The lead was whittled down to six points with 6.1 seconds remaining, but the Pistons outlasted the Raptors and their own incompetence.

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