Casey ensures Raptors lose consecutive home games

Dwane Casey’s return to Toronto deliverers consecutive home loses for the Raptors

Reggie Bullock made the winning shot as time expired. The Detroit Pistons rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Raptors 106-104 on Wednesday night.

It was a hugely emotional night for Casey, following the game he said: “I felt good for the players. We were 19 down and didn’t give up, didn’t stop scrapping, didn’t give in.”

Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Jackson and Langston Galloway each scored 13 and Stanley Johnson had 12 points for the Pistons. Prior to this the Pistons had lost six of their last eights games.

“He would never say it, but anytime you come back to a place you spent so much time at, had so much success and obviously the fans love him here, to win Coach of the Year and switch jobs in the same year is tough,” Griffin said of Casey. “I think it meant a lot to him. I was just proud of the way we came back and responded.”

Casey raised his arms in triumph, pumped his fist, then ran onto the court to celebrate with his team after Bullock’s tie-breaking basket.

Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and Pascal Siakam and Greg Monroe each had 17 for the Raptors. The Raptors have now lost consecutive home games after a 7-0 start. Toronto (12-3) also failed to match their best start in franchise history.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who blossomed under Casey’s leadership, was left fuming afterward about multiple Toronto miscues, including a blown coverage on the final play. He said: “It’s a good win for him. “I’m sure he’s happy, but we’re not happy. I’m not happy for him. We should have won the game.”

Toronto had won six straight games over the Pistons, and nine of the previous 11 meetings.

Detroit trailed 88-77 to begin the fourth but soon took the first lead since the opening quarter, 98-97, on a jump shot by Jackson with 4:54 remaining.

Leonard tied it at 104 by making a jumper with 38 seconds to go. Griffin missed at the other end and Lowry grabbed the rebound, giving Toronto 10 seconds to try a go-ahead shot. Leonard brought the ball up but lost it out of bounds with 2 seconds to go.

After Siakam blocked Glenn Robinson’s shot out of bounds, Detroit took the ball under the basket with 1.2 seconds left. Jose Calderon in-bounded to a cutting Bullock, who won it with his buzzer-beater.

“I was pretty much butt-naked under the basket,” Bullock said. “I got the ball and just floated it.”

Monroe played a season-high 21 minutes since center Serge Ibaka sat out with a sore right knee. Jonas Valanciunas started in his place.

The Raptors lost another starter when guard Danny Green left with a sore lower back in the third quarter.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse expects Ibaka to return for Friday’s trip to Boston. However, Green’s status remains unknown.

Fans stood and cheered when Casey was introduced prior to the game, and roared in approval when a video tribute was shown during the first timeout. Players from both benches also stood and applauded as Casey acknowledged the crowd with a wave.

Casey went 320-238 in seven seasons with the Raptors, more wins than any other coach in franchise history. He was named NBA Coach of the Year after Toronto set a team record with 59 wins last season, but had been fired by the time he received the award. Casey was let go after the Raptors were beaten in the second round of the playoffs by Cleveland Cavaliers.

Toronto had eight turnovers in the fourth and scored 16 points, the fewest in any quarter so far this season.

Next up for the Raptors is a trip to Boston on Friday night.

Peace,

Burke

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