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Bad shot dooms Toronto Raptors against Detroit Pistons, NBA’s worst

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The combination of a tough team-wide shooting night and an opponent still angry from a nasty beating was too much for the Toronto Raptors to overcome.

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The Raptors hovered around the 30% shooting mark all Friday night, while the host Detroit Pistons looked nothing like the team that had been blown out by 46 points by the Chicago Bulls three nights earlier. and those two factors were more than enough to rock this one. Detroit’s favor.

The Pistons were in control for most of the first three quarters and only a push from the Raptors in the fourth brought it closer as Detroit held on for a 103-87 victory.

Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, the guys who are supposed to lead this offense, combined for 61 points.

The remaining eight players who saw the field for the Raptors combined for just 22 points and that just wasn’t enough.

But no one outside of Chris Boucher, who had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, even got close to 50 percent shooting from the field on the night.

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Trey Lyles, a member of the Canadian national team, came off the bench for the Pistons and gave them 21 points and seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Rookie and first overall pick Cade Cunningham had 15 points, five assists and seven rebounds for a great all-around game.

VanVleet led Toronto with 24 points and 10 assists, but was just 6 for 21 on a tough shooting night. Pascal Siakam also had 21 and 12 rebounds in a losing cause.

The Raps didn’t have time to dwell on the loss to the NBA’s worst team as they hopped on a plane and headed to Milwaukee where they will face the defending champions in a tough game.

A BIG LOSS EARLY

It happened relatively early and had a lasting effect on the Raptors for the rest of the game.

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Khem Birch remained glued to Pistons wonderkid Cunningham as he navigated the paint under the basket from side to side. As he turned for the reverse layup, his elbow came up and caught Birch flush with the nose.

The blood started and Birch’s night ended as he returned to the locker room for x-rays.

Birch isn’t one of the big three or even the big four Raptors, but he’s instrumental in what they do and his absence has been felt.

Gone are the screens and one of VanVleet’s comfortable pick and roll partners. And much of the Raptors offense that Birch helps set up is gone.

“It’s definitely a big part of what we do,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Birch’s strong fundamental skills. “Somehow the offense keeps moving. It is a reliable filter. He is also quite alert when there is play for him. He also gets his share of offensive rebounds or at least some tips to keep the ball alive. He kind of takes what happens to him. It’s nice to have one of those guys there who can do the other things on offense to get us rolling.

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Well, Birch left four minutes into the game and the Raptors offense was kind of dead with that start.

Now give the Pistons credit. We’ve seen enough of a Dwane Casey-coached team to know the opponent is off to a physical night and the young Pistons aren’t backing down from contact.

But without Birch reveling in that physical play and without him doing the little things that keep the offense going, the Raptors shot a dismal 28% from the field in the first half and dragged themselves into a 13-point deficit. at halftime because of it.

There was no word on Birch’s X-ray results at press time.

CASEY ALWAYS HAS CONNECTIONS

Dwane Casey is in his fourth season with Detroit, but the former Raptors head coach doesn’t need to go too deep into memory banks when asked about the current Raptors crop that has appeared under his direction.

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Casey was asked about VanVleet and his All-Star chances and, unsurprisingly, gave his former player a glowing endorsement.

“He became Kyle Lowry,” Casey said, giving VanVleet the highest compliment a Toronto point guard of this generation could receive. “He’s a Kyle clone. Same body type, same wise leadership. I’m proud of him, where he comes from, where he is, it’s a huge step forward what he did, but he was like that. “He was a winner in middle school, high school,” Casey said. “And then when he first came into training camp, and we’re trying to decide whether to keep them or not. He showed it then, in training camp. So he deserved everything that he wins and what he does and we just hope it’s not what you know tonight but he should be a star.

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Casey also had kind words for Siakam and his push for what would be his second All-Star honor.

QUICK KEYS:

The Raptors picked up Scottie Barnes for this one after a one-game absence, but Gary Trent Jr. stayed out with that left ankle issue…Barnes wasn’t a definite player. Nurse said before the game the plan was to get him active for the game, but whether he plays or not depends on his pre-game training. At one point, Nurse suggested Yuta Watanabe would likely make his second start, suggesting he wasn’t too optimistic Barnes would be ready to leave. Obviously, pre-match training went better than expected as Barnes was in the starting lineup.

mganter@postmedia.com

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