Players-only meetings really do fix everything! A night after getting blown out in embarrassing fashion by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Raptors responded with an excellent defensive outing in Detroit. Led by P.J. Tucker’s relentless activity, they outscored Detroit 27-9 in the final quarter, winning 87-75.
Tucker’s eight points and nine rebounds don’t jump out at you, but his work on defense was the focal point of an effortful Toronto outing. The closing lineup of Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Tucker was nothing short of brilliant. Tucker played the entire quarter, making a couple key steals on Marcus Morris to extinguish any hope of a Detroit comeback. He had the entire team chatting on defense, making it tough for the Pistons to get into anything productive.
Even DeRozan was talking, playing good individual defense on the Pistons guards when his number was called. This was a reassuring night for DeRozan in general. He was held scoreless in the first half, but came out in the third quarter engaged and looking for teammates. He ended up with 14 points, eight rebounds, and six assists — a well-rounded game on a night where points were hard to come by.
The first half was especially horrific for both sides, as the Raptors made it to the five-minute mark of the second quarter before making their tenth field goal as a team. The unlikely hero keeping them above water was DeMarre Carroll, who looked lost on Thursday but had ten first half points tonight.
As Carroll fell off in the second half, Norm Powell stepped up. With a couple good takes in the fourth, Powell led the Raptors bench with 11 points in 19 minutes, shooting 4-for-10. As the team finished shooting 38.5%, a 40% night looks just fine.
Detroit, meanwhile, couldn’t find anything reliable beyond Reggie Jackson. Jackson’s 20 points on 14 shots led all players, but the wing duo of Morris and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope combined for a putrid 5-for-27 shooting night. Andre Drummond had eight points and 22 rebounds, but fouled out with two minutes to go.
So it wasn’t glamorous, but a win’s a win for Toronto — especially after the late-season crisis brought on by the Thunder game. They’ll return home for their first matchup of the season against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, followed by the Bulls on Tuesday.