The Pistons just won a game I was responsible for recapping for the first time ever, and I’m 85% sure it was not an April Fool’s Joke.
Detroit avenged last Friday’s defeat against the Raptors with an entertaining one tonight, as they traded punches with Toronto for the first half before a 17-2 run midway through the first quarter pushed them ahead the rest of the way. The Pistons shot a sizzling 55.8% from the field (including 46.7% from behind the arc) en route to their first 100 point performance since a loss to the Trail Blazers in mid-March.
Leading the way tonight was Greg Monroe, who continued to work his way out of a three-game cold spell with his second consecutive strong performance – 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, also chipping in his customary four assists on some solid passing. Jose Calderon also played well, providing 19 points and 9 assists against only one turnover. Tonight, though, the bench was the biggest difference maker, as Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, Khris Middleton, and Rodney Stuckey combined for a whopping 51 points. The Raptors’ bench, by comparison, managed only 17.
Rodney Stuckey in particular helped the Pistons hang on to their late-game lead. After scoring only two points in the first half, Stuckey came alive in the second with 16, including several key shots down the stretch that allowed the Pistons to pull away. Jerebko provided an exciting put-back slam late in the fourth that capped Detroit’s victory with an exclamation point. The bench contributions were nice compensation for relatively invisible performances from Andre Drummond (4 points, 4 rebounds) and Brandon Knight (5 points, 2-of-8 shooting).
On the Raptors’ side, tonight was all Rudy Gay everything; the forward exploded for 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting, and even hit all four of his three point attempts – which, coming from a sub-30% three-point shooter, should tell you just how hot he was tonight. The Raptors also received a solid performance from young center Jonas Valanciunas, who scored 17 on 8-of-12 shooting and blocked 5 shots. As a team, the Raptors shot 50.6% from the field and 38.1% from three-point range.
The win won’t do the Pistons’ lottery chances any favors, but it was an entertaining game and a shade more impressive considering Drummond’s relative ineffectiveness. Detroit fans shouldn’t have to worry about the Pistons accidentally winning too many more games, however; the team will likely only be favored in one of its last seven games (April 10, versus the Bobcats).
The Pistons will continue this current road trip with a visit to Boston on Wednesday night, a game which could have some potential for Andre Drummond fireworks considering the sorry state of the Celtics’ frontcourt. If ever there were a time to let the big guy off the leash, that might be the one.
The trip will conclude Saturday night in Minnesota, as the Pistons face off against the Timberwolves.