Raptors fall apart late in fourth quarter
TORONTO — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points, including a game-winning three-pointer with 13.2 seconds left, to lift the Detroit Pistons over the Toronto Raptors, 102-101, in National Basketball Association action Sunday.
DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points for the Raptors (32-23), who coughed up a doubledigit lead in the game’s final minutes.
Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors lost for the 10th time in their last 14 games. DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Lowry added 15 points apiece.
Tobias Harris topped Detroit (2629) with 24 points.
In the first meeting between the two teams since opening night, and Toronto’s first game in four days, the Raptors raced out to the early lead and were up by as many as 16 points in the third quarter in front of an Air Canada Centre capacity crowd of 19,800.
The Raptors took an 82-66 advantage into the fourth quarter and looked destined for an easy victory.
But the Pistons whittled away at the gap, and when Ish Smith scored on a floating jumper with five minutes to play, it pulled Detroit to within just five points.
Andre Drummond scored on a put-back layup a minute later, and it was a three-point game. The Raptors were up by five points with 1:23 to play, but Caldwell-Pope scored on back-to-back baskets — his second was a three-pointer taken right in front of the Raptors’ bench — that gave Detroit a 102-101 lead with 13 seconds to play.
DeRozan’s shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim, much to the dismay of the disgruntled crowd.
Patrick Patterson — a “glue guy” for Toronto, according to coach Dwane Casey — sat out the game with a sore left knee, making it 14 of the last 23 games he’s missed.
The Raptors were playing for the first time since their disappointing 112-109 loss in Minnesota on Wednesday, and Casey said the team made good use of the precious three days off.
“I can see the mistakes mounting and mounting. There’s only so much video you can watch or walkthroughs you can go through until you get those habits, repetitions physically, and get the sweat and full speed and game speed going through it,” Casey said.
“We got some good work in, some specific work where we could go up and down the court, which you can’t do.
“These next three games are going to be huge for us as far as momentum and as far as the playoff race is concerned,” Casey added.
The Raptors, who went into Sunday’s game fourth in the east and a half-game behind Washington, face Chicago on Tuesday, then Charlotte on Wednesday before the nine-day break between games for NBA allstar weekend. Chicago, Detroit and Charlotte sit seventh, eighth and ninth in the Eastern Conference, respectively.
The Raptors and Pistons paced each other virtually basket for basket through a first quarter that saw neither team lead by more than four points. DeRozan paced the Raptors with 10 points, and Toronto took a 27-25 advantage into the second quarter.
A three-pointer by Carroll with 2:39 left in the half was the punctuation mark on a 19-2 run that gave Toronto a 12-point lead. They went into the halftime break up 51-45.
Lowry drilled a three early in the third that kick-started a 14-2 Raptors run that gave them a 16-point lead, their biggest of the game to that point.
Toronto Raptors centre Jakob Poeltl dunks against the Detroit Pistons during a first half that saw the teams’ shooters keeping pace with each other shot for shot.