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Powell, Lowry do their part, but understaffed raptors are handily pounded by the butts

TAMPA, Fla – The understaffed Toronto Raptors, missing five players and seven staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, needed help Wednesday. Norm Powell and Kyle Lowry, the only two regular starters in existence, didn’t make it when the Raptors started well, but predictably wore off quickly, losing 129-105 to the Detroit Pistons. The Raptors (17-18) were without starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby as well as Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Siakam, VanVleet and Anunoby had scored 1,603 points this season, 42 percent of Toronto’s total score before Wednesday. Powell hit a season high of 36 points and Lowry added 21. But they got almost no support other than Chris Boucher’s 18 from the bank. Aron Baynes had 13. “No excuses,” said assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who took over Toronto for the second year in a row. “We’ve definitely had enough players and coaches to play a better game than this.” Wayne Ellington made eight three-pointers on the way to 25 points for Detroit, which resulted in a season high of 20 three-pointers that night. The Pistons (10-25) had six players in the double digits. “It’s been a tough night, a tough night,” said Lowry. “They did a lot of recordings. Give them credit.” Dennis Smith Jr. and Mason Plumlee each had triple doubles for Detroit with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for Smith and 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Plumlee. With a gap of 18 in the fourth quarter, Toronto shortened the lead to 14. By then, however, the Raptors toolbox was pretty empty. The Pistons, who had injury and illness problems of their own, lost three games. They were 29th in the league before picking, having lost six of their last seven. “Looks like We The North tonight!” said the pistons cheekily on their official Twitter feed. Piston coach Dwane Casey, who played 320-238 in his seven seasons at the helm of the Raptors, called it “an excellent team win”. Detroit moved the ball and amassed 39 assists. “I didn’t think we would have a chance of a snowball with all of our boys … I loved the way our boys competed against each other,” he said. The flasks were without Jerami Grant, Delon Wright, Killian Hayes, and Frank Jackson due to injury / illness. Star striker Blake Griffin is not on the team as he is pursuing trading options. Jahlil Okafor and Josh Jackson, both preoccupied with their own problems, dressed but did not play. It doesn’t get any easier for the Raptors who boarded a plane for a game in Boston on Thursday. The team can lick its wounds and then heal, with the league taking a break for Sunday’s All-Star game in Atlanta. After that, Toronto will play again on March 11th against Atlanta. Toronto started Lowry, Powell, Baynes, Terence Davis and Yuta Watanabe. Davis and Watanabe shot a combined 2 for 14 for a total of six points (all from Davis). The Detroit Bank. Meanwhile, Boucher (18) and Matt Thomas (11) prevailed against Toronto at 56:29, making up all of the 29:19 that were scored in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided. Toronto’s DeAndre Bembry, Stanley Johnson and Paul Watson Jr., shot a combined 0 for 7. Lowry said some of his teammates were trying too hard to fill the void on the squad. “We just had too many moving parts and people trying to do a little too much,” he said. “What I understand.” The six-time all-star, who only tried eleven shots, accused himself of not firing again. The makeshift five starters got off to a hot start, leading 8-0. Casey called for an early break when Toronto hit five of their first seven shots, building a 13-3 lead. Detroit fought its way back, scoring the first 15 points from distance and leading 43-37 at the end of a first quarter. The Pistons made 9 of 11 three-point attempts in their highest-scoring quarter of the season. Lowry played the entire first quarter and scored 12 points while Powell finished at 13. Detroit reeled off the first eight points of the second quarter and built on its lead with a 15-0 run that started in the first and rolled as the second in the second. Pistons went from 37-36 to 51-37. The Pistons, whose bank beat Toronto’s 28-8, led halfway with 69-60. Powell, 23, Lowry (17) and Baynes (10) together scored 50 of the points in one half that the Raptors gave up 17 points on eight turnovers. The Pistons, who came into play with an average of 12.4 three-point points per game, converted 11 in the first half alone. Detroit also narrowly scored and collected 30 points in the color in the first half. The Raptors cut the lead to 69-64 early in the third round, but Detroit responded and extended the lead to 18 after a 15-2 run. Toronto needed a Lowry three-pointer in the last second to end the third quarter at 98-80. It’s been a whirlwind for the Raptors since they beat Houston 122-111 on Friday without Siakam, Nurse, and five of his staff. Sunday’s game against Chicago was postponed and the matchup against Detroit was postponed one day to Wednesday. Assistant coach Jim Sann was added to the absentee list on Wednesday. The Raptors have only had one training session since the Houston game. Lowry said it was a tough time with so many teammates and employees. “Of course you’re concerned just because they’re your brothers, they’re your friends first and foremost,” he said. “They want to make sure they are healthy.” Scariolo, Mark Tyndale (assistant video coordinator / player development) and Jamaal Magloire (basketball development consultant) occupied the Toronto bench. This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press

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