Pistons blow 20-point lead, lose to Raptors, 105-102
DETROIT — Jonas Valanciunas’ short runner at the 1:03 mark gave the Toronto Raptors a lead Wednesday night they would never relinquish in a 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons’ (35-43) loss in the second-to-last game at the Palace dropped their fading playoff chances to practically nil with four games remaining. They are three games out of a playoff spot.
The Raptors (48-31) overcame a 20-point deficit in the first half to earn the victory they needed for playoff positioning.
The engine was Kyle Lowry, in his first outing after missing 18 games with a wrist injury. He finished with 27 points and 10 assists.
It looked like the Pistons would come away with the victory, but Serge Ibaka’s corner 3-pointer gave the Raptors’ their first lead of the game at 100-97 with 1:21 remaining.
Marcus Morris answered to tie the game at 100.
But after a Raptors time-out, coach Dwane Casey designed a play that gave Valanciunas an easy runner to give the Raptors a 102-100 lead.
After a Pistons miss, DeMar DeRozan’s short jumper extended the lead to 104-100 with 25.6 seconds left.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a baseline jumper to cut the deficit to 104-102.
Valanciunas split two free throws to give the Raptors a three-point lead with 7.6 seconds left.
Caldwell-Pope missed a contested 3-pointer, but Andre Drummond grabbed the offensive rebound and threw it to Tobias Harris in the corner at the 3-point line.
But his aim was errant and the Pistons have now lost 10 of 12 as they limp down the stretch.
Valanciunas finished with 19 points.
Harris and Ish Smith led the Pistons with 16 points each.
Reggie Bullock received the start at shooting guard because Caldwell-Pope wasn’t with the team at the start of the game because of a personal matter. He joined the Pistons’ bench late in the first half and started the second half.
The Pistons didn’t miss him and they didn’t look like one of the league’s worst offensive teams at the beginning of the game.
They jumped to a 10-point lead at 17-7 on Smith’s driving lay-up and the lead continued to grow.
Aron Baynes soared (really) for a dunk to give the Pistons a 33-15 lead at the 1:50 mark of the first quarter.
That was the score going into the second, as the Pistons shot 65.2 percent from the field and held the Raptors to 35 percent shooting.
Darrun Hilliard got loose for two straight dunks to push the Pistons lead to 37-17 with 9:09 remaining in the second quarter.
The Raptors started chipping away behind the 3-point shot.
Cory Joseph knocked down two consecutive threes to cut the Raptors’ deficit to 50-39 with 2:41 left in the second quarter.
Lowry was fouled on a 3-point attempt and his three free throws cut the deficit to 56-46 going into halftime.