The moment the NBA had been waiting for, for what seemed like WEEKS, happened tonight. The Detroit Pistons, who came into Saturday night’s game with 28 straight losses under their belts, were at risk of making it a record-breaking 29 straight losses.
The record for most consecutive losses in NBA history sits at 28 games, and Detroit was desperate to break the streak. Toronto on the other hand, was fighting to ensure they would not be the ones to hand Detroit their first win since OCTOBER.
Yet, when the day finally came, the biggest stories in the news had NOTHING to do with the game tonight. In the end, it was the other news story of the day that became the catalyst to ending the Detroit Pistons losing streak — because yes, the Pistons WON, and avoided that 29th loss.
By two points. Detroit took the game 129-127.
Earlier today, the Toronto Raptors made a blockbuster trade to move O.G. Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn to the New York Knicks in exchange for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and a 2024 second round draft pick.
This transaction meant that that the three outgoing players for Toronto were gone, but the two incoming players were not yet with the team. That left Toronto with a depleted roster.
They decided to start Dennis Schröder, Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl.
Raptors started well, despite the second change to the starting lineup in one week. It was a late-quarter push from the Detroit Pistons that gave them the one-point advantage after the first quarter 25-24. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors at this point with seven points total.
The second quarter saw the Pistons take the lead due to an 8-0 run. They were up by as many as ten points, with the Raptors exhaustion and depleted roster showing in full force.
Raptors are down 8 at halftime. They’re shooting 35% from the field. 36% from three.— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) December 31, 2023
They (Pascal and Scottie) sort of look tired and they’re missing guys so… tough.
It was a rough quarter for the Raptors, and the 52-44 score is only a slight representation of that. It really just showed how eager the Raptors should be to get Immanuel Quickley on the floor, because they shot just 34.8% from the field in the first half.
Near the end of the second quarter, it seemed like the Pistons were getting everything they wanted on offence, and shot over 40% from the field.
The second half saw the Pistons continue to maintain their lead through the first few minutes. The Raptors finally got some energy back due to a pair of back to back three’s from Trent Jr. and some quick points from Siakam.
That got the ball rolling for Toronto, and Siakam willed the Raptors back to catch up with the Pistons by the 4:00 minute mark in the third quarter. It was ALL Siakam in the third quarter, and he was up to 28 points by the end of three.
This has been an old-school, "Pascal, go to work" quarter.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) December 31, 2023
Pistons still led by four, 90-86, going into the final stretch. History on the line. The Pistons ability to break down under pressure in late game situations has been on full display during the course of their months-long losing streak — it was not over yet for Toronto.
Pascal Siakam had 20 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 8/9 FG in the 3rd quarter.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) December 31, 2023
He was 2-for-8 in the paint in the first half. He made 7-for-8 in the 3rd quarter.
With nine minutes remaining, Gary Trent Jr made another three to make it a one point contest. The game at this point had had over 10 lead changes.
Yet the Raptors still went down AGAIN by ten, while Scottie and Pascal sat on the bench for a stretch. Definitely would have put Barnes in earlier, because when he did come in he took over and helped get the Raptors within seven.
They just couldn’t get ahead at all, letting the Pistons maintain their lead. Despite Scottie turning it up in the fourth (as he does). It just was not enough.
The Pistons avoid losing their 29th straight game, winning against the Raptors 129-127.
raptors losing to the pistons is going to single handedly raise the company value of wingstop— alex (@higgs31_) December 31, 2023
Honestly, this loss would not be as annoying if the streak was on the line. If you think about the circumstances of the game — missing three players due to being traded, and one more to injury, second night of a road back to back — it kind of makes sense to lose in a way.
A lot of the Raptors played well, too. Pascal Siakam led all scorers with 35 points, Gary Trent Jr. shot 6-9 from three and scored 24 points on the night. Scottie Barnes ended the night with 22 points.
One thing that really seemed to affect the Raptors chances was a stretch in the fourth quarter where Darko Rajakovic benched both Siakam and Barnes for too long. In a two-point loss, its frustrating that those minutes could have been the decider to tip Toronto over the edge.
It’s hard to really analyze this game though, as the Raptors sit in limbo. These lineups won’t be used again, as Quickley and Barrett arrive with the team. They were down four players total with Garrett Temple injured. The trade itself could have caused a lot of chaos and distraction today as well.
Raptors fans will have to hope the burn of embarrassment this game carries fades soon and look forward to the new year. With their new teammates, and possibly more changes to come before the February 8th trade deadline, today’s roster and game aren’t an accurate representation of the team we will see even in their next match.
Speaking of their next match, the Raptors will play Monday January 1st in Toronto before hitting the road for their west coast road trip. They’ll welcome Quickley, Barrett and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30pm New Years Day.