Holly MacKenzie – Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Jonas Valanciunas made one of two free throws to give the Raptors a three-point lead with 7.1 seconds remaining. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 25-foot 3-pointer and the Pistons got another opportunity, but Tobias Harris also missed from deep and the Raptors collected a 105-102 victory against the Detroit Pistons after trailing by 20 in the second quarter.
Kyle Lowry made his return to the lineup after missing the previous 21 games following wrist surgery. The Raptors went 14-7 without the three-time All-star, but are thrilled to have him return for the final four games of the regular season.
Toronto couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start than how the first quarter unfolded in Detroit on Wednesday. Despite having Kyle Lowry back in the lineup, the offence was off the mark early, with Toronto shooting 35 percent in the quarter and managing to score just 15 points. Making things worse, was Detroit connecting on 65 percent of its field goals, more than doubling up on Toronto’s point total, leading 33-15 after the first 12 minutes. Lowry led Toronto with seven points while Ish Smith led Detroit with eight in the first quarter.
GETTING INTO IT
Although the Pistons would stretch their lead to 20 points early in the second quarter, the Raptors started to wake up. Toronto stepped up the defence, holding the Pistons to 47 percent shooting and 10 fewer points than in the first quarter. The Raptors also started to get their offence going, moving the ball and finding the open shot. Toronto shot 44 percent in the quarter as Cory Joseph came off the bench to score 13 points and Kyle Lowry added nine. The two-point guard lineup was a boost for Toronto as a late push helped the Raptors trim a 20-point deficit to 10 at the halftime break. Lowry’s 16 points in the first half led all scorers. Ish Smith’s 12 points led the Pistons.
KEEPING THE PACE
Things didn’t get any easier for the Raptors in the third. After a strong second quarter effort where they closed the gap to 10 points, the Raptors had trouble gaining ground on Detroit in the third quarter. The Pistons shot 44 percent in the quarter to Toronto’s 40 percent, with Detroit stretching their lead to 12 heading into the fourth. With DeMar DeRozan held to just six points on 2-of-13 shooting in the first three quarters, the swingman got into the action by serving as a facilitator, dishing eight assists through three. Kyle Lowry only scored two points in the third, but his 18 points at the end of the three quarters were still a game-high. Ish Smith led the way for the Pistons with 16 points.
PULLING OUT THE WIN
The Raptors knew they’d need a huge fourth quarter effort if they were going to pull out a comeback win. One night after dropping a game to the Indiana Pacers after they had led by 19 in the first half, the Raptors were in a role reversal on Wednesday. After shooting 40 percent through the first three quarters, Toronto exploded for a 37-point fourth where they shot 67 percent from the floor. Kyle Lowry continued to roll, scoring nine points while DeMar DeRozan was money late in the game, and Jonas Valanciunas added 11 points as the Raptors tied the game at 95 with 2:47 to go. With three more ties in the final minutes, a Valanciunas hook shot followed by a DeRozan jump shot gave Toronto a four-point lead. The Pistons would get within two, but Valanciunas would hit a free throw to give Toronto a three-point lead with 7.1 seconds and the Pistons could not connect on multiple attempts from beyond the arc. The victory was Toronto’s largest comeback win of the season and the second fourth-quarter comeback for the Raptors in Detroit this season.
RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kyle Lowry had a fantastic return to the court, leading the Raptors with 27 points and 10 assists in 42 minutes. Despite missing the previous 21 games, Lowry showed little evidence of rust, hitting his first 3-pointer of the game, and continuing to roll from there. Lowry shot 9-for-16 from the floor and 7-for-7 from the free throw line while adding five rebounds to go with those 10 assists and two steals. The Raptors were a +5 when he was on the floor.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Cory Joseph returned to the bench after starting the previous 21 games for Kyle Lowry. The reserve point guard had a strong effort in his new/old role, scoring 15 points in 27 minutes. Joseph shot 6-for-14 from the floor while adding five rebounds, an assist and two steals.
THAT’S A RAP…
“He’s the team. He runs us and he showed it tonight, he got us back in the game. He’s definitely one of a kind. There are no words I can put in context that will explain it. With these last two games to go, I’m happy we got him back and we have to try to get a rhythm.”
– DeMar DeRozan on having Kyle Lowry back on the court
BY THE #’S
10… Made 3-pointers for the Raptors (10-for-30) compared to seven made 3-pointers for the Pistons (7-for-21).
29… Assists for Toronto, 22 for Detroit. The Raptors backcourt combined for 20 assists as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan each had 10.
50… Points in the paint for the Raptors, 48 for the Pistons.
47… Percent shooting for Toronto compared to 53 percent shooting for Detroit.
THEY SAID IT…
“I wouldn’t have played if I had any fear. If I’m going to come back I’m going to come back and play basketball. I’m not going to have limitations, restrictions. I’m going to play basketball. Imma go hoop. The game of basketball is fun for me, it’s what I love to do . I just wanted to come out there and help our guys and help my team get a win.”
– Kyle Lowry on his return to the court
“He did so many positive things throughout the game so it wasn’t necessarily one play. He makes so many winning plays, attacks before the defence is set, he reads situations, gets to the rim, gets calls, makes free throws, makes the right decision with the ball. You can’t really put a number on a play on his effect on the game.”
– Dwane Casey on Kyle Lowry taking a late charge and affecting the game in many ways
“That’s what he is. The last five years I’ve been here, that’s all he cares about. He doesn’t care about nothing else but defence which, you’ve got to commend him and respect him.”
– Kyle Lowry on Dwane Casey’s commitment to defence
The Raptors return to Toronto where they will have their final home game of the regular season on Friday against the Miami Heat at 7:30 P.M. ET