TORONTO - Raptors head coach Jay Triano has said his team needs to “take more pride in its man-to-man defence.”
Well, Friday was not the night the Raptors started to take that pride — at least until the third quarter.
The Pistons went off for 61 points on 57.9% shooting through two quarters — the third time in as many meetings the Pistons have jumped on the Raps early — but Toronto put the clamps on in the third with lineups that at times utilized Julian Wright, Amir Johnson, Joey Dorsey and Ed Davis.
That group defended the Pistons well and held them in check on the boards — something Andrea Bargnani was doing a noticeably poor job of.
The Pistons slumped to 29.6% shooting (8-for-29) in the quarter, allowing the Raptors to make a game of it.
Combinations involving Johnson, Wright and Davis or Dorsey worked wonders, but Tracy McGrady hit a dagger three to end the third quarter and the damage had already been done.
“I thought the first half of the game was the difference when we fell back and didn’t stop anybody,” Triano said.
I'll show you
McGrady is saving his best for the team that drafted him.
McGrady was Detroit’s top player Friday and is now averaging 14.7 points against Toronto vs. 6.3 against the rest of the league.
Usually he is inspired by the cat-calls from the fans, but the crowd wasn’t on him nearly as much as it has been in the past.
“It was definitely a lot less than last time,” McGrady admitted after the game about the less angry atmosphere.
But he definitely did hear a few boos and responded.
“I think when you have an arena that boos, you put a little more focus, a little more into it,” McGrady said.
His coach John Kuester felt McGrady was his the difference.
“I was very impressed with his pace of the game, his control, making big plays when we needed some big plays going down the stretch,” Kuester said.
McGrady also got DeMar DeRozan into foul trouble.
McGrady isn’t the only former Raptor who enjoys lighting up his former employer.
Charlie Villanueva had averaged 17.5 points against Toronto this season before Friday’s tilt, five points more than he averages against the rest of the league.
Villanueva sizzled early, starting 5-of-6 from the field, including two three-pointers as Detroit built its lead.
But an air-ball followed and things continued to spiral downhill from there with Villanueva failing to connect on his final five attempts.
Shooting cools down
The Raptors had matched a franchise record on Wednesday by shooting over 50% from the field for the fourth game in a row.
The team is second only to the Boston Celtics in field goal percentage over the past 10 games prior to Friday’s, but the run of sharpshooting ended with the team finishing at 47.5%
Particularly galling was Toronto’s horrendous 4-for-17 performance from beyond the arc.
While bombing away has long been a staple of this franchise, given the current edition has been the league’s worst from long-range for most of the season, it might be time to stop relying on that plan of attack so much.
After scoring a game-high 35 points against the Raptors the last time the two teams met, former all-star Rip Hamilton was benched for the second game in a row by Kuester.
Hamilton is being dangled in trade talks and said afterwards he is looking forward to going somewhere else and playing.
Night to forget
Jerryd Bayless, playing in spite of a sore ankle was not at his best.
The backup point guard’s fourth-quarter airball was the lowlight of a three point, two assist effort which included a 1-for-5 shooting performance.
With Leandro Barbosa out of action for at least part of the coming road swing, the Raptors desperately need Bayless to find his health and his game.