TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points in the third quarter on his way to 40 points – a Toronto Raptors opening-night record – to send the Detroit Pistons to a 109-91 loss in the opener for both teams tonight.
Life began for the Pistons without point guard Reggie Jackson, who is out until next month rehabbing a left knee that received a platelet-rich plasma injection.
But the issue was a defense that allowed too much penetration (DeRozan got wherever he wanted) and too many free throws.
The Raptors scored 54 points in the paint with center Jonas Valanciunas leading the way with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
The Raptors (1-0) shot 24-for-29 at the free-throw line.
The Pistons (0-1) were led by Tobias Harris’ 22 points. Andre Drummond finished with 16 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. He was hindered by foul trouble and an elbow to the face from Valanciunas.
The Pistons, who enter the season with optimism after the first playoff appearance in six season, shot only 4-for-22 from three-point range. Marcus Morris scored 17 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored four points on 2-for-9 shooting.
The Pistons got off to a hot start.
They scored on their first five possessions to take an early 11-4.
But Drummond took a shot from Valanciunas to the face while driving for a dunk.
He left the game at the 8:42 mark of the first quarter with his second foul, but did not return until 4:13 mark of the second quarter.
He left the bench briefly – apparently as a precaution.
But back-up Aron Baynes picked up his second foul quickly, and the Raptors were getting to the rim at will.
DeRozan finished with 15 points in the first quarter and the Raptors shot 13-for-13 at the line to take a 33-23 lead after the first quarter.
Harris and Marcus Morris kept the Pistons close, as they combined for 30 points in the first half.
A Caldwell-Pope steal led to a Harris dunk and free throw that cut the deficit to 49-46 with 3:03 left in the first half.
But the Raptors closed on a 9-0 run to take 58-46 lead at halftime.
Valanciunas went for 21 points and six rebounds in the first half, while DeRozan added 19. The Raptors also outrebounded the Pistons by 12 in the first half.
Contact Vince Ellis: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincent_ellis56.
Detroit Free Press