Toronto Raptors

Five takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' loss to the Detroit Pistons

The Toronto Raptors lost their second game in a row on Wednesday in shocking fashion. Despite holding a double-digit lead through three quarters, the Detroit Pistons went on a huge run to deliver Dwane Casey a win in his return to Toronto.

From what happened during that stretch to a common thread in Toronto's three losses this season, here are five takeaways from the Raptors' 106-104 loss to the Pistons.

The final 16 minutes

With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Detroit trailed 81-64 and it appeared Toronto was pulling away with its 13th win of the season.

Over the final 16 minutes of the game, the Pistons used a total team effort to stage a big rally to come back and earn the win.

Detroit stepped its play up to outscore Toronto 42-23 while shooting 55.9 percent (19-for-34) from the field. Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson both scored eight points in the final 16 minutes, while Blake Griffin and Ish Smith each added six points over that same period of time.

Johnson sank two big 3-pointers down the stretch and came up big on the defensive end with his efforts in slowing down Kawhi Leonard.

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Sure Not Now

Thanks in part to the defence of Johnson, Leonard committed five of the 10 Raptors turnovers that came in the final 16 minutes. His final turnover proved to be the most crucial, as it set up the Pistons' game-winning possession.

Late-game execution

Down the stretch, the Raptors' inability to run effective sets and tendency to revert to one-on-one basketball was extremely detrimental. Both Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard had possessions in which they forced up low-percentage shots out of an isolation situation.

Conversely, Detroit's comeback was a product of execution on both ends of the floor - its defensive play had a hand in the stagnancy of Toronto's offence and its offensive successes were a result of patience and effectively running sets.

The game's final sequence best illustrates the stark contrast between each teams' execution. With 10 seconds left, an isolation play drawn up for Leonard resulted in him dribbling the ball off of his foot for a turnover with just two seconds remaining.

Out of a timeout, the Pistons executed a sideline out-of-bounds lob play to a T, but the Raptors were spared by Pascal Siakam, who made an impressive effort to get back into the play and block Glenn Robinson III's shot attempt.

Just over one second remained and the Pistons again perfectly executed an inbounds play from under the basket which led to Reggie Bullock's game-winning floater.

Lowry attributed the Raptors' late-game mishaps to lapses in communication, which fall under poor attention to detail and failure to execute defensive assignments.

Turnovers

The Raptors tied a season-high in committing 20 turnovers (Nov. 7 at Sacramento) that led to 21 Pistons points in Wednesday night's loss.

Leonard led the way with six turnovers while Lowry committed five and centres Jonas Valanciunas and Greg Monroe committed three turnovers apiece. Sloppy play - especially in the second half - is what allowed the Pistons to stick around and rally from a 19-point deficit.

As evidenced in last week's road win over the Kings, teams will continue to try and ramp up ball pressure against the Raptors to make the team uncomfortable and disrupt their offensive game plan. It nearly worked for Sacramento and it paid off for Detroit.

3-point shooting

Toronto finished the game shooting just 4-for-20 from 3-point range, tying a season-low 20 percent shooting from deep (Oct. 29 at Milwaukee).

Detroit was not on fire from deep by any means (10-for-33), but the 18 points it gained by hitting six more 3-pointers than Toronto certainly had a hand in Wednesday night's outcome.

In each of the Raptors' three losses, the team has shot sub-30 percent from 3-point range. Tonight's shooting output brings the combined total in those three games to an abysmal 26-for-110 (23.6 percent).

Toronto's shooting woes won't likely linger, but nights like Wednesday reinforce how important long-range shooting is to the team's offence.

Injury concerns

The Raptors boast one of the league's deepest rosters with a rotation that can extend to 11 or 12 players, but four injuries will hold back even the deepest of teams.

Entering Wednesday's game, the team was without Serge Ibaka (right knee soreness), C.J. Miles (right adductor strain) and Norman Powell (left shoulder subluxation). In the loss, Danny Green exited with lower back tightness and did not return.

The absence of these four - two of which have started in the majority of games this season - showed in each of the four aforementioned categories. The veteran presence of Green and Ibaka was missed down the stretch as the team failed to execute and take care of the ball. Miles, Green and even Ibaka add a boost to the Raptors' 3-point shooting.

Moving forward, health will be a major key for Toronto to stay on track.

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