It was a great day for some Sunday night hoops in Toronto as the Raptors finished up their homestand by welcoming the Detroit Pistons to town. A game that in recent years was a little bit of a rivalry between coaches, now a fun reunion between two good friend coaches — and an opportunity for the Raptors to head out on the road with a win.
I was quite the emphatic win, too.
Luckily for them, O.G. Anunoby was back in the lineup after missing a week with a finger injury. The Toronto Raptors also had Gary Trent Jr. but Thad Young was still out. Darko was able to return to his usual starting lineup of Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl, and Dennis Schroder. Monty Williams and Detroit went with Ausar Thompson, Kevin Knox II, Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunnigham and Jaden Ivey.
The Raptors came out to a quick start but the Pistons came back and kept it close until the end of the first quarter. In the last three minutes of the quarter, the Raptors went up big and finished the first 32-20. There was not stopping them after that.
Dennis Schroder led the Raptors in scoring in the first with 11 points and three assists, Precious Achiuwa scored a three and a slam dunk to score five off the bench. The Raptors were scoring 51.9% from the field and only 25% from three, but when you’re playing a Pistons team shooting 16.7% from three, you can take your time getting hot.
The Raptors held their lead through the second quarter, allowing Darko to go into his bench more. Gradey Dick headed out, a good chance for him to get some playing time against some other younger players on the court. He would get a lot more of that in the fourth quarter. Precious Achiuwa continued to be impactful on offence, scoring another three pointer and bringing himself to 4-5 from the field. The Raptors were on a 26-8 run at his point.
The Raptors maintained a steady 20 point advantage through the rest of the half, with Scottie Barnes shooting a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc. By the end of the first half Scottie was already up to 15 points, five assists and three rebounds. It seems like every game these days is a Scottie masterclass.
What a Scottie game man. Obviously the shooting, but that contested board in traffic, immediately gets the ball up the floor and leads to Jakob's dunk— Samson Folk (the coach) (@samfolkk) November 19, 2023
The lead extended to as much as 39 points in the third quarter. Barnes, Siakam, Trent Jr., Achiuwa, Schroder, and Poeltl were all in double digit scoring, with Poeltl recording a double double in the third. The highest scoring Raptor by the end of three quarters was Siakam with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists.
By the end of three, the Raptors were up 104-72 over the Pistons.
The fourth quarter had the Raptors beat their previous season high in assists in a game with 44 — a new franchise record as well, and a few more Raptors joined the double digit scoring club. The Pistons were not stopping anyone on this team at all, and the Raptors were getting everything they wanted. It was an incredibly cohesive effort from the Raptors.
The second half of the fourth was for the end of the bench guys to get some runs in. Gradey Dick got on the board, Malachi Flynn was being crafty, and Ron Harper Jr even got to come out for a bit.
The Raptors came out with the big win — 142-113 over the Detroit Pistons.
After the game, Darko told the media that he encouraged the team to continue to move the ball in the second half despite being up so high already. He wanted the assists number to be even in the first and second halves. That surely paid off with the franchise record, but also just proves how much this team has improved when it comes to sharing the basketball and making the right shot.
Raptors' 44 assists today were the most any team has had in a game this season.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) November 20, 2023
They assisted on 80% of their made field goals, their highest AST% in a game since April 2021.
Scottie Barnes in particular had a great game, and Darko mentioned that they are trying to hone in on what his best skills are so they can continue to develop him and use him to the best of his ability. He mentioned how he is is still so young and his skill is so high that he is still getting better and better. He’s been incredibly dominant on both ends all season — he shot looks a lot better than in recent years, his confidence is growing, and his defence is continuing to be great as well. He finished this game with 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
The Raptors will now head to sunny Florida to play the Orlando Magic in their second In-Season Tournament game. It’ll be Scottie’s first trip to his home state this season, so hopefully that will bring a good game with it. The Raptors then head to Indiana Wednesday for the back to back, and then are back in Toronto on Friday for another NBA Cup game against Chicago.
This win brings the Raptors to 6-7 on the season with the possibility to not only reach .500 but surpass it. They play the 7-5 Magic, 7-4 Pacers, and the 5-9 Bulls — all winnable games for this team.
Also, important updates:
O.G. Anunoby confirms he cut his finger at home and had to get five stitches, says it’s getting better everyday.— chelsea leite (@chelsealeite) November 20, 2023
Also said it was “fun” to do everything left handed all week.