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Raptors lose two to injury, beat Pistons 112-99

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The Raptors extended their win streak to three with a sloppy win over the Pistons — a victory overshadowed by injuries to Marc Gasol and Norman Powell.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors beat the Detroit Pistons 112-99 Wednesday night, their third straight win — but a costly one, as the Raptors lost both Marc Gasol and Norman Powell to injury.

Somehow, someway, the Raptors held on in this game. They even found ways to extend the lead with the Pistons continuously pushing back. Through injuries, technical fouls (total four, two each way), foul trouble and some poor shooting stretches, the Raptors managed to lock in on D when they needed to, and steal one in their home-away-from-home in Detroit.

That D found itself manifesting most at the three-point line. The Pistons came into the game second in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage, a danger to a Raptors team that often gives up open threes. But Detroit struggled from downtown, shooting 6-for-35. Credit goes to Raptors defenders, who did a good job closing out on shooters.

The Pistons spent the first few possessions of the game featuring Andre Drummond offensively. It was, perhaps, a way to get him back into the flow after missing two games — or perhaps Dwane Casey saw an advantage in the post with Drummond defended by Marc Gasol.

The Raptors, aggressive as always, were sending a second defender to help at times. Drummond started 2-for-3, but did turn the ball over twice, so it looked the Raptors’ defensive plan was working. Unfortunately, the Drummond-Gasol matchup was short-lived, as the Spaniard would exit the game with 4:15 left in the first quarter due to a hamstring strain and would not return.

Overall it was a back-and-forth first quarter, with Drummond’s return being a factor. The big man scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds while playing the entire opening 12 minutes. It was however, the Raptors who would lead 30-29 after the first behind a quiet 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from Pascal Siakam.

A sloppy effort from the Pistons on D opened the floor up offensively for the Raptors, and OG Anunoby took advantage, adding eight points — all at the rim — on 4-of-5 shooting.

Things got tougher for the Raptors when Serge Ibaka picked up his second foul in the first two minutes of the second quarter, but all that meant was Nick Nurse would experiment with his lineups. Nurse initially had Chris Boucher replace Ibaka, before a quick stint of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the five and Anunoby playing the four, along with Lowry, Patrick McCaw and Terence Davis.

Of course, when Drummond checked back in with 5:47 left in the half the Raptors could no longer play small, and Ibaka checked back in to match the Pistons’ height.

The game for the first half was quite sloppy for both teams, but the Raptors, behind late back-to-back threes from Anunoby and Lowry, were about to control momentum and extend their lead to 70-64 at the break. As Matt Devlin described it, it was a “track meet” — the Raptors shot 54%, went 9-of-19 from three and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line. On the other end, the Pistons shot 51%, grabbed eight offensive rebounds (plus-7 on overall rebounds) and had 36 points in the paint.

Three players were in double digits for the Raptors by halftime: Anunoby (17), Siakam (16) and Lowry (14). On the other side, Drummond and Griffin scored a combined 24 first half points.

While the lead continued to grow every quarter — the Raptors led 96-79 after the third — it wasn’t easy getting there. They had an almost five-minute stretch without a field goal in the third, but then responded with much better defense — which in turn led to multiple transition opportunities, and more efficient scoring.

In the fourth, the shooting woes reappeared, and the Pistons cut the lead down to nine with under four to go. But a timely three-pointer from Siakam extended the lead and the Raptors managed to hold on.

Siakam led the way with 26-points, Ibaka did a good job replacing Gasol with 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Lowry finished with a triple-double of 20-points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Anunoby finished with 19. although only two came in the second half.

In his return, Drummond had a monster 22 points and 18 rebounds and Blake Griffin (in his own return) scored 15.

While the scoreboard says the Raptors won by 13, it wasn’t pretty at all. It certainly doesn’t feel like a win either, with the loss of Gasol and Powell. For now, we await word on how serious the injuries are.

Raptors have won three straight and improve their record to 19-8; they’ve got the the Washington Wizards up next on Friday night.