Raptors fall apart down stretch ... again!
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
|Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani (right) is pressured by Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight last night in Auburn Hills, Mich. (REUTERS)
DETROIT - Toronto guards Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon have led the club to most of its success this season, so it was only fair that the big men stepped up on Friday night.
Most notably, Andrea Bargnani, who had one of the best nights of his career and his backup, Ed Davis, who provided great minutes.
Still, and stop if you’ve heard this one before — the Raptors could not hold another late lead and ended up falling to 3-10 thanks to a 91-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Bargnani scored 34 points — 21 in the first half — and Lowry missed a gaggle of tough shots down the stretch and finished jut 6-for-17 from the floor.
After DeRozan found Bargnani for a clutch three, Tayshaun Prince backed down the Raptors and made a hook shot, then did it again, following a Lowry make.
Another miss by Lowry was followed by a driving layup by Brandon Knight and Lowry’s tough fadeaway at the buzzer failed to go down.
Still, Toronto’s best player said that was the shot he was looking for and it was one he would take again, since it usually goes down.
To be fair, the Raptors would not have been in the game without a 14-point third quarter explosion from Lowry.
Head coach Dwane Casey didn’t love the final shot — Bargnani was cooking and open — but said the loss didn’t come down to the final plays, it was lost on the boards.
“I trust him, that’s the decision he made, and we’ve got to live with it,” Casey said.
“It looks like the last play was the reason it wasn’t. It’s 15 offensive boards. Once Jonas (Valanciunas) hurt his leg (kicked in calf, leg heavily bandaged afterwards), he was playing on one leg and just got five in a row on him, offensive boards and we had to get him out. He would have been a difference I thought if he was healthy. But it was the plays all before that,” Casey said.
“That’s the story. You can’t rely on just one stop to win or lose the game.”
Greg Monroe paced the Pistons with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Knight added 16, along with Prince, and rookie Andre Drummond was great in the fourth quarter and had a 13-point, 13-rebound game for his first double-double.
Detroit got eight offensive rebounds in the deciding quarter, six by Drummond.
LOOKS FOR THE ROOKS
Casey said that rookies Valanciunas and Ross have earned more playing time with their recent performances.
“(Valanciunas has) built that trust, not only with me, but with teammates, with the referees, the opposition and he’s growing every time,” Casey said.
“(Ross is) growing. He’s earning his minutes. He’s getting them through the way he’s played. I thought he really competed in the Charlotte game. He did some good stuff offensively. The more he earns it, the more time he’s going to get.”
Casey said as long as the rookies don’t make too many they will play.
“We are headed in the right direction. There’s a plan in place … The process is working. It’s not showing up in (wins) right now, but I understand the process.”
Valanciunas had nine points, six rebounds and two blocks, while Ross struggled, missing all five of his shot attempts.