The Raptors came into this game and were desperate to get a win after losing 4 straight. At least you would think they were. No Jose Calderon as well as he did not make the trip to Detroit. So Jerryd Bayless gets the start. Reggie Evans won't be playing with the team anytime soon but he was with the team as a spectator for this one.
It would start alright as the Raptors started on an 8-2 run and had a 14-7 lead as time marched on in the first quarter. But from that point the Raptors were leaking on defence and their lack of ability to defend and rebound was costing them. It would lead to one of the more wacky stats you will come across. The Raptors shot 78% and were losing after the first quarter. Ok it was only by 1 point but it had to be a concern to be down 29-28 shooting that well.
You also had to think the Raptors would not keep shooting this high a % as well. Oh and how about we add turnovers to the things to the Raptors were doing wrong. If Bayless was trying to avoid a point guard controversy he was doing a good job of it. The Raptors lack of defence was making Ben Wallace look like a superstar that Chicago once upon a time spent big bucks to sign. Even T-Mac got a throw down or two the Pistons offence which is one of the worst in the league was looking a lot like the Nuggets offence from the night before. It was a total of 43 points when all was said and done in the second quarter. The Raptors had given up 70+ points in the first half on back to back nights. It was a 72-53 halftime score and Jay Triano could not have been happy with his team's effort which on defence was non-existent.
Coming out of the locker room it was a calm Jay Triano almost to calm. It reminded me of a defeated Sam Mitchell post game vs Denver which would be the last game he coached for the Raptors. The Raptors came out in the 3rd and were at least hanging with the Pistons but they had dug a deep deep hole and trading baskets was not going to cut it. The Raptors would win the 3rd quarter outscoring Detroit 30-27 which still left a 16 point disadvantage to deal with. The Pistons had lead by as many as 25 at one point. But clearly the Raptors had shown no real signs they could defend all night and with that being the case it seemed impossible they would be able to come back at this point.
The Raptors made a bit of a push to cut the lead to 11. But this was just that predictable push that would make the score look better for those who didn't watch the game. Raptors were getting some stops as well but there was no way they could do this. Andrea Bargnani hit a 3 and it was down to single digits now. The Pistons had blown a 20+ lead before this season. Jerryd Bayless was taking care of the basketball and was better on defence. He was scoring as well as he had through out. The Raptors would keep on coming and the lead for Detroit was melting like snow would in Hawaii. The Raptors would eventually pass the Pistons and built a lead of 7 points late. That is a 32 point turnaround in less than half of basketball.
There is no doubt a ton of people missed the end of this one. Heck even I decided to make a run out to the store, only to be trapped in my car hanging on the call of Paul Jones and Eric Smith on the radio call. Raptors get the most improbably comeback victory in the history of this franchise with a 120-116 victory. The first reaction is to applaud the Raptors for making this miracle comeback to get a win they had to have. Jerryd Bayless had 31 points and 7 assists along with 4 turnovers to lead them back. Demar DeRozan had a pretty nice night as well with 16 points shooting 7-12 and a couple blocked shots. Bargnani and Barbosa both had 22 points and were deadly from 3 point range. Bargnani was 4-6 from 3 and Barbosa was 3-4.
But this also happened, only 32 rebounds and 18 turnovers and a defence that only showed up for the 4th Quarter where they only allowed 17 points. The Raptors should be happy to have the win, but the trend of poor first half play continues and the Raptors need to address their poor starts and their effort defensively. They also need to take care of the ball. If Jerryd Bayless is going to eventually become the starting point guard for this team he will do it by playing solid defence and doing a decent job of taking care of the basketball. Bayless has proven the team can score with him at the point but the Raptors have not proven they can take care of the ball of play solid defence as a unit with him at the controls. The bigs on this team need to collectively get on the boards and make up for the loss of Reggie Evans. They got crushed on the boards on this night.
If the Raptors only take away the fact they came back in this game without admitting they were lucky to a point to be able to do it. They will continue down a wrong path and this win will be a blip on the radar. Raptors still have serious issues to address. They can play defence as they proved in the 4th quarter of this game. However the requires effort from the opening tip to get wins consistently in this league.
Win is great but their are lessons that still need to be learned from this. If the Raptors do not learn them this game won't mean much in the grand scheme of things.