Missing key players, staff, undermanned Raptors overpowered by Pistons

The undermanned Toronto Raptors, missing five players and seven staff members including head coach Nick Nurse, started well but predictably faded fast in a 129-105 loss Wednesday to the Detroit Pistons.

The Raptors (17-18) were without starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby as well as Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

Siakam, VanVleet and Anunoby had accounted for 1,603 points this season, 42 percent of Toronto’s total prior to Wednesday.

Norm Powell and Kyle Lowry, the only two regular starters available, carried the load for Toronto. Powell scored a season-high 36 points and Lowry added 21. But they got almost no help other than Chris Boucher’s 18 off the bench. Aron Baynes had 13.

Wayne Ellington made eight three-pointers en route to 25 points for Detroit, which made a season-high 20 three-pointers on the night. The Pistons (10-25) had six players score in double figures.

Dennis Smith Jr., and Mason Plumlee each had triple-doubles with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for Smith and 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Plumlee.

WATCH | Pistons offence gets hot in rout of Raptors:

Detroit shoots season-high twenty 3-pointers as they win 129-105. Toronto without 5 players, Nick Nurse and members of the coaching staff due to NBA’s health and safety protocols. 0:50

Trailing by 18 going into the fourth quarter, Toronto cut the lead to 14. But by then the Raptors toolbox was pretty much empty.

The Pistons, who had injury and illness problems of their own, snapped a three-game losing streak. They were 29th in the league prior to tipoff, having lost six of their last seven.

The Raptors are scheduled to play at Boston on Thursday, with the league taking a break after that for Sunday’s all-star game in Atlanta. Toronto is set to resume play March 11 against visiting Atlanta.

Raps summon reinforcements

Toronto assistant coach Sergio Scariolo was in charge for the second straight outing.

Jalen Harris and Donta Hall were summoned from the Raptors 905 G-League squad. Scariolo said they arrived “literally one minute” before the team practice Tuesday.

Toronto started Lowry, Powell, Baynes, Terence Davis and Yuta Watanabe. And the makeshift starting five got off to a hot start, leading 8-0.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey, who went 320-238 in his seven seasons at the Raptors’ helm, called an early timeout as Toronto hit five of its first seven shots and built a 13-3 lead.

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Detroit clawed its way back, scoring its first 15 points all from distance, and led 43-37 at the end of a high-scoring first quarter. The Pistons made 9-of-11 three-point attempts in their highest-scoring quarter of the season.

Lowry played the entire first quarter, collecting 12 points, while Powell finished with 13.

Detroit reeled off the first eight points of the second quarter to build its lead with a 15-0 run that started in the first and rolled into the second as the Pistons went from trailing 37-36 to leading 51-37.

The Pistons, with its bench outscoring Toronto’s 28-8, led 69-60 at the half. Powell (23), Lowry (17) and Baynes (10) combined for 50 of those points in a half that saw the Raptors give up 17 points on eight turnovers.

The Pistons, who came into the game averaging 12.4 three-pointers made per outing, converted 11 in the first half alone. Detroit also scored from in close, collecting 30 first-half points in the paint.

Watanabe and Davis combined for 20 minutes 47 seconds of floor time and two points in the half.

WATCH | Raptors dealing with numerous absences due to NBA protocol:

The Toronto Raptors will host the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night, but without many of their marquee players. 2:16

The Raptors cut the lead to 69-64 early in the third but Detroit answered, building the lead to 18 after a 15-2 run. Toronto needed a last-second Lowry three pointer to end the third quarter trailing 98-80.

It has been a whirlwind for the Raptors since they defeated Houston 122-111 on Friday without Siakam, Nurse and five members of his staff. Sunday’s game against Chicago was postponed and the matchup with Detroit pushed back a day to Wednesday.

Assistant coach Jim Sann was added to the absentees list Wednesday.

Scariolo, Mark Tyndale (assistant video coordinator/player development) and Jamaal Magloire (basketball development consultant) manned the Toronto bench.

The Toronto staff was already shorthanded with Chris Finch having left to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie make up the remainder of Nurse’s coaching staff.

The Pistons were without Jerami Grant, Delon Wright, Killian Hayes and Frank Jackson due to injury/illness. Star forward Blake Griffin is not with the team as it pursues trade options.

Jahlil Okafor and Josh Jackson, both dealing with their own issues, dressed by didn’t play.

The NBA, meanwhile, reported Wednesday that of the 456 players tested for COVID-19 since Feb. 24, seven new players had returned confirmed positive tests.

Original article: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/basketball/nba/nba-toronto-raptors-detroit-pistons-recap-march-3-1.5935859?cmp=rss

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