Raptors shoot for 10th straight win against lowly Pistons

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Dwane Casey’s second season as head coach of the Detroit Pistons has been much rockier than the first.

The Pistons made the playoffs last season with All-Star forward Blake Griffin leading the charge. They also swept the season series from eventual NBA champion Toronto, Casey’s former team.

However, Griffin has missed most of this season and underwent knee surgery a month ago. Detroit is floundering without him, including its first two meetings with the Raptors this season.

They’ll play the third game of the four-game season series at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena on Friday.

The Raptors defeated the Pistons 125-113 on Oct. 30 and 112-99 on Dec. 18. Toronto will try to extend its nine-game winning streak after defeating Cleveland 115-109 on Thursday.

The losses have continued to pile up for Detroit, which enters Friday’s contest with a four-game losing streak.

Brooklyn defeated the Pistons twice during that stretch, including a 125-115 outcome on Wednesday. Both teams shot 50.6 percent from the field but the Pistons committed seven more turnovers than the Nets.

“I was very disappointed,” Casey said. “It was 28-8 between the first four minutes of the first quarter and the first four minutes of the third quarter. That’s what’s disappointing in a relatively statistically close game.”

Casey was also disappointed in the play of rookie forward Sekou Doumbouya. The Pistons were outscored by 20 points during Doumbouya’s eight scoreless minutes.

“There’s a lot of things that are going on. It’s about being a pro. He’s 18 or 19 years old, [it] isn’t easy. He has to grow up,” Casey said. “He’s got the talent, it’s there. It’s in there, we just have to continue to develop him not only as a basketball player, but as a young man. There’s a lot of things he needs to understand about what it means to be a pro.”

The Pistons were playing catch-up throughout the second half.

“I think guys were definitely getting frustrated,” reserve big man Christian Wood said. “I think there were a couple missed calls here and there, but just got to play through it — we’ve got to learn how to play through it.”

The Raptors played without center Marc Gasol, who is nursing a hamstring injury, at Cleveland. They rode the scoring of forward Serge Ibaka, who had 26 points, and the formidable backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet to their latest victory.

Lowry had 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals, while VanVleet contributed eight points, seven rebounds and 12 assists.

“Those two guys are really complete players,” coach Nick Nurse said of Lowry and VanVleet. “They’ve got the point-guard mentality where they’re going to run the team. They’re going to play with toughness, IQ, lead by example — those kinds of things rub off on the other guys a little bit.

“Both shoot the ball well, [both are] capable of getting in the paint and scoring, putting their body on people. But they defend, man,” Nurse added. “They get up into people. They take charges, block bigger guys out. They’re very similar players — one 10 years younger than the other — but they play very similar to each other.”

–Field Level Media

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