TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan called Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks a game the Raptors needed in order to get back on track.
Toronto moved back into the win column on Monday beating the Detroit Pistons 123-94 with DeRozan and Kyle Lowry leading the way with 20 points each.
“Not to make no excuse, but a game like last game, we kind of needed it to knock us back on track, especially coming off a break,” said DeRozan, who added seven assists. “We understand what we needed to do, what we need to get back to, and we did that tonight.”
Lowry added four assists and six rebounds while going 6 of 8 from three-point range as the Raptors (42-17) maintained a half-game lead on the Boston Celtics for first in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Pascal Siakam poured in 11 points, six assists and five rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.
Andre Drummond led the Pistons (28-32) with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Detroit has now lost three straight and six of seven overall while falling three games back of Miami for the eighth seed. Ish Smith added 16 points and three rebounds while Reggie Bullock finished with 14 points.
“Obviously we had a lot of offensive struggles and our bad offence led to some bad defence,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. “Two main things that have been pretty common over the last two games on the defensive end that we’ve talked about is we are not doing a good job getting back and getting matched up.”
Jakob Poeltl drew huge cheers from those in attendance when he threw down a monster one-handed dunk on Drummond with 6:03 left in the fourth to give Toronto a 109-83 lead.
DeRozan and Lowry each had 20 points as Toronto led 93-75 through three quarters. Drummond and Bullock each had 14 for the Pistons.
After allowing the Pistons back into the game to close out the first half, the Raptors responded by opening the third scoring 14 consecutive points early in the third quarter to lead by 20. Toronto led by at least 16 the rest of the way.
“We knew that they played (Sunday) night so we wanted to make sure we kept the pace, and use our speed,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the third-quarter response. ”That’s something we didn’t do the first game back from the all-star break.”
Detroit closed the half on a 7-3 surge cutting Toronto’s lead to six, 59-53.
DeRozan led all scorers with 13 first-half points. Lowry added 12 points and five assists while going 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Toronto shot 51 per cent and out-rebounded Detroit in the opening half, but was hampered by nine turnovers.
With the bench on the floor, the Raptors opened the second on an 8-2 run, pushing their lead to 12 and prompting Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy to call his first time out of the quarter with 9:30 remaining.
Toronto held a 30-26 advantage after one period thanks to 11 points and three assists from DeRozan.
The Raptors won the only other meeting between the two teams 96-91 on Jan. 17. Toronto visits Detroit on March 7.
NOTES: Canadian golfer Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, was in attendance Monday. … The Raptors now head out on the road for a pair beginning Wednesday in Orlando before visiting Washington on Friday.
Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press