The first half had gone well for the Pistons on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons were shooting 50-percent from the field, they'd snagged 22 rebounds, recorded 10 team assists and were attacking the rim with 30 points in the paint. More importantly they were patient on offense, moving the ball and finding the open man for the best available shot. In their loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, the Pistons had turned in a similar effort for the first 24 minutes. But then came out in the second half flat, only scoring eight points in the third quarter. As the second half started against Toronto there was only one question on the minds of every Pistons fan: Are we going to finally play a complete game? Well it was close–last second lay-up close–but the Pistons fought hard, battled the Raptors for 48 minutes, and came out with 91-90 victory.
The "Double-Double" Duo
A double-double for Greg Monroe is no longer anything to shout about; he had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Toronto. Monroe has turned in double-double numbers in seven games this season, and is nearly averaging one per game this season. What was exciting about Monroe's double-double on Saturday night was that it happened while working alongside Pistons rookie Andre Drummond.
Jason Maxiell started the game, but as Toronto made the decision to couple both Andrea Bargnani and rookie center Jonas Valanciunas, 7'0" and 6'11" respectively, Lawrence Frank turned Drummond and Monroe loose. Put backs, rebounds, at the rim defense and high energy have become Drummond's staples this season, and given the opportunity for bigger second half minutes on Saturday Drummond didn't disappoint. Drummond scored 13 points against Toronto, all in the paint, many of which coming on put-backs from his eight offensive rebounds. His defense was solid, he defended the pick an roll well, and even recorded two steals; the second steal coming in fourth quarter crunch time. Drummond had 13 rebounds to lead the Pistons, and scored 13 points.
Hopefully, playing extensive minutes at an high level alongside Monroe will force Lawrence Frank's hand when considering more playing time for the rookie center.
Last Second Lay-in
Despite playing strong defense, and committing to a balanced offensive attack, the Toronto Raptors wouldn't let go of their fourth quarter lead. In the late minutes of the fourth quarter, Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani were red-hot and both had an answer for nearly every Pistons counter-punch. The Pistons saw Toronto's lead jump back-and-forth, from one-point to three points in the final minutes. But two swinging left-handed hook shots from Tayshaun Prince (one of which was against a double team) put the Pistons down only one point with 16 seconds left in the game.
Lawrence Frank called timeout and while many were thinking the Pistons might go inside-out, using Tayshaun Prince to draw a double before passing to a slashing cutter, the Pistons instead used a high-screen to break free Brandon Knight. Greg Monroe set the screen on Kyle Lowry, and as Toronto's Amir Johnson slid to help Lowry, Knight split both Lowry and Johnson and made the lay-up amidst a forest of outstretched Toronto arms. The Pistons were up 91-90 with seven seconds on the clock. With no timeouts, Toronto pushed the ball. Knight pushed Lowry into the corner and the best Toronto could do was a falling jumper from Lowry. The fourth quarter horn blew, and the Pistons had won the game 91-90.
The Pistons travel to New York to take on the Knicks in a Sunday afternoon showdown at Madison Square Garden. The Pistons' first two wins this season game in blow-out fashion, but their win against Toronto was truly one that was earned. The Knicks were supposed to be good this season, but their 8-3 start without Amare Stoudemire has been one of the league's early surprises. Having just lost to the Houston Rockets, and Jeremy Lin, the Knicks will no doubt be anxious and angry when they get back on the court against the Pistons. If the Pistons want to steal a game, they'll have to battle like they did against Toronto on Friday night. If they come out flat in any quarter, as they have so many times this year, the Knicks scorers may put the game out of reach. The Pistons take on the Knicks in New York at 12:30 PM tomorrow, November 25th.
, Detroit Pistons