The Toronto Raptors suffered a setback loss tonight, dropping one to the Detroit Pistons on the road.
After winning six consecutive games, the Raptors have now lost two in a row after falling to the Phoenix Suns earlier this week.
Even though Fred VanVleet still recorded a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists, he had one of his worst shooting nights of the season. Pascal Siakam also recorded a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome big nights from Cade Cunningham and Canadian forward Trey Lyles.
For more on this contest, we have you covered with some thoughts below.
1. Fred VanVleet cools off a bit
So VanVleet is human after all.
The Raptors star guard has been on a tear as of late, going for six 30-point games over the last month, including a 37-point triple-double this past week. Tonight's contest brought an end to what has been a remarkable stretch for VanVleet, as he finally came back down to Earth a bit.
VanVleet still finished with 24 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two assists but he struggled to find a rhythm, shooting 6-for-21 (28.6%) from the field and 6-for-14 (42.9%) from 3-point range.
Make that 2⃣4⃣ for the Boy#FredVanVleet | #NBAAllStar- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 15, 2022
⭐️ 1 RT = 1 Vote ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/vGg1NGaFc0
But he's been so good that even on his off-nights, he's still setting records. With six 3-pointers made tonight, he extended his streak to 10 games with four or more made 3s, the longest in franchise history.
You can vote VanVleet to the 2022 NBA All-Star Game here.
2. Pascal Siakam continues hot stretch
However, Siakam did not cool off.
The Raptors forward is playing his best basketball of the season and despite the loss, he kept that going tonight. Siakam went for 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while shooting 8-for-17 from the field and 1-for-2 from 3-point range.
Tell 'em P 😤#PascalSiakam | #NBAAllStar- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 15, 2022
⭐️ 1 RT = 1 Vote ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/msLCE4bgZ9
Over his last eight games, Siakam is averaging 24.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game, tallying four double-doubles over that stretch. Tonight's game makes that five double-doubles in nine games.
3. Trey Lyles shows out against his homeland team
Lyles, a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native, brought his A-game against his homeland team.
The Canadian forward had one of his best games of the season, going for 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one assist off the bench.
Welcome to the 3️⃣1️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/ACeubpAzg1- Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 15, 2022
This builds on what has been a strong stretch of play for Lyles, who is averaging 14.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 46.4 percent from the field over his last eight games.
4. Cade Cunningham plays to his potential
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft came to play tonight.
Cunningham has had his ups and downs during his rookie season, but he looked like a poised veteran in this one. He stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists while shooting 8-for-15 from the field.
He was attacking defenders off the dribble and finishing strong in the paint, something he has struggled to do at times this year.
Cunningham is beginning to find a groove, as evidence of going for a career-high 29 points two games ago. The Pistons' official Twitter account also used their franchise player to make a mock-Drake album cover to celebrate the win.
Just hold on, we won at home. #PISTONSWIN pic.twitter.com/jF1fGriTQk- Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 15, 2022
5. Khem Birch leaves game with nose injury, did not return
Birch cracked the starting lineup for the third consecutive game but he didn't last long in this one.
He played three minutes and 40 seconds before taking a shot to the nose, forcing him to head to the locker room early. Birch never returned and per Raptors PR, he is set to undergo a facial X-Ray.
It's been a tough season for Birch, who has had trouble staying on the floor. He has only appeared in 23 of the team's 38 games, missing significant time with lingering right knee soreness.
6. Dwane Casey provides pregame praise for VanVleet
During his pregame media availability, Pistons head coach - and former Raptors head coach - Casey had nothing but great things to say about Toronto's new captain VanVleet.
"He's become a Kyle Lowry. He's a clone of Kyle," Casey stated. "I'm proud of Fred, from where he's come from to where he is, it's a huge leap, what he's done. He's always been a winner. ... He should be an All-Star."
Casey concluded his thoughts on VanVleet with the highest praise possible, "When they build a statue of Kyle out there, the other statue will (eventually) be of Fred on the other side. ... They're like twins. He learned a lot from Kyle and he's reaping the benefits of it."
Casey coached VanVleet for two seasons, watching him develop from an undrafted G Leaguer to a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Now, he has his former coach's vote to be an All-Star.
7. What's next?
The Raptors get right back to it on Saturday, Jan. 15 when they travel to take on the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET on TSN 3/4.
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