Ex-Raptor Calderon sees similarities in Caseys Toronto return and his own

Ex-Raptor Calderon sees similarities in Casey\s Toronto return and his own
Casey proud of influence on Raptors, Canadian basketball
But Detroit left it late, rallying from a 19-point deficit to edge the Raptors 106-104 Wednesday night on Reggie Bullocks buzzer-beater before 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena.

Jose Calderon, a former Raptor, inbounded the ball under the Toronto basket with 1.2 seconds left. There was a scrum under the basket and Bullock escaped Pascal Siakam, his minder, allowing Calderon to find him alone in the corner of the paint. On the sideline, Casey threw his arms in the air and then pumped his fist as the jubilant Pistons swarmed Bullock.

“They were pulling for me, I appreciate that tremendously,” said Casey, Torontos winningest coach. “Its a players league, its about the players, its not about coaching, its about players, but again its about human beings. But those human beings, they felt for me.”

Coming off a franchise record 59-win regular season and first-place finish, things went south in a hurry after the Raptors were swept out of the second-round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Casey was fired and, a month later, accepted the NBAs Coach of the Year award as a member of a different organization. If the vibe around Wednesdays game is a bit awkward its because this whole situation has been a bit awkward.

“I think it meant a lot to him,” Piston forward Blake Griffin said of Casey. “I was proud of the way we came back and responded, and yeah, this was for him, for sure.”

The winningest coach in team history, Casey led the Raptors to the playoffs in five straight years, setting franchise records for regular-season victories in four of them. He took them further than theyve been before – the Eastern Conference Finals back in 2015-16 – and oversaw the growth and development of several players, including all-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

Toronto (12-3) seemed to have the game in control for the first three quarters but fell behind after a furious fourth-quarter fightback by Detroit and lost its second straight.

The NBA is a business. Were reminded of it regularly. Players, coaches, execs, theyll all tell us – and probably themselves – its a business, but its also their lives. People get fired or they get traded from places they feel a strong connection to and its only natural to take things personally. Feelings get hurt, and that was what happened over the summer.

“We just took our foot off the gas a little bit defensively and all of a sudden theyre shooting a couple of wide-open threes and that just sparks them,” said Toronto coach Nick Nurse.

When Casey first took over as Torontos head coach, back in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, the team was coming off a dreadful 22-win season. They were one of the NBAs favourite punch lines. Every star they had ever employed skipped town. The guys who stayed did so reluctantly. And so it went, until things turned.

“Bang, bang, a couple of threes go in and then another one goes in and all sudden all that work youve done for, for lets say 34 minutes, is gone quickly because you just took your foot off the gas a little bit.”

Toronto is off to a league-best 12-2 start with its new coach – Caseys former assistant, Nick Nurse – and its new superstar, Kawhi Leonard. Meanwhile, Casey has landed on his feet in Detroit. Hes the first of eight ex-Raptors head coaches to part ways with the team and immediately land another head coaching gig.

Lowry has strong words for Raptors lack of communication after loss

Griffin led Detroit (7-6) with 30 points and added 12 rebounds while Andre Drummond had 11 points and 14 rebounds. Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson had eight points apiece in the fourth quarter when the Pistons outscored Toronto 29-16.

Shortly after Caseys first trip back is in the books, the Raptors will begin to prepare for Fridays big game in Boston and their former coach will head back to Detroit with his new team. The events that led to their breakup wont seem so important, but the legacy Casey leaves in Toronto isnt going anywhere.

The 16 points were a season-low for any quarter for the Raptors, who made matters worse by committing eight of their 20 turnovers in the final frame.

Kawhi Leonard had 26 for Toronto while Siakam added 17 and Greg Monroe 14. Kyle Lowry had 14 points and seven assists.

Im a big boy, Casey said. I feel good knowing I left something here in Canada that was positive and good and it wasnt negative and bad. Getting fired is not a negative… I have no ill will for anybody. I understand what happened, how it happened. I dont know why it happened, but I understand it.

Detroit cut the Toronto lead to 11 going into the final quarter. A 23-9 Pistons run to open the quarter gave the visitors a 100-97 lead with less than five minutes remaining.

In many ways, Oct. 17 was an important day for Casey and for the Raptors. It was Game 1, the start of the regular season, and a chance to put the past behind them and play basketball again. Suddenly, wins and losses were all that mattered, not who was talking to whom and who wasnt.

A Leonard layup made it a one-point game with 3:19 remaining. And he added a free throw to tie the game at 100-100.

Lowry had predicted it would be strange seeing former coach Casey at the opposite end of the floor. And the emotional night lived up to its billing. Lowry and Casey embraced before tipoff, and during a stirring video tribute to the coach who was fired days after last seasons playoff run, Lowry walked to halfcourt to applaud.

Buckets by Griffin and Drummond made it 104-100 before Lowry scored via layup. Leonard hit a shot to tie it at 104-104. Griffin missed a shot and the Raptors called a timeout with 10 seconds remaining.

Raptors Green leaves game vs. Pistons with lower back tightness

Leonard headed to the basket but lost the handle and the ball slipped away with two seconds remaining. Siakam prevented the winning bucket by blocking an attempted alley-oop by Glenn Robinson III.

“I think just talking, man. Communication. Open your mouth. Weve gotta speak, weve gotta talk, youve gotta say something. Cant play if you cant say nothing,” Lowry said, on what went wrong down the stretch.

“Its not like we just discovered this today. We put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans or to their GM (Masai Ujiri), maybe it was a surprise, but not to us,” he said, seemingly taking a shot at the man who fired Casey.

“On the last possession youve gotta communicate,” Lowry said. “We have to open our mouth and say switch. We have to talk. Simple as that.”

Video: Pistons LIVE 11.14.18: Reggie Bullock

The Raptors came into the game looking to match their best-ever start over 15 games (13-2), set in 2014-15.

The Raptors point guard was particularly angry about the games final play, when a defensive miscue allowed Bullock a running layup.

Game Centre: Buzzer-beater gives Detroit Pistons win over Toronto Raptors

Toronto had won six straight against Detroit since 2017, its longest winning streak in the series. The Raptors have won or tied the season series with the Pistons since 2012-13.

“Hes still my guy,” Lowry said. “At the end of the day hes still my guy. Hes still the guy that helped me get to where I am.

Toronto went into the game without Serge Ibaka (knee soreness), Norman Powell (shoulder) and C.J. Miles (adductor strain) and lost Danny Green in the third quarter to lower back tightness after he was crumpled by Andre Drummond on a pick play.

And he was given a standing ovation during the Pistons introductions. Lowry came over to the visitors bench to give him a big hug prior to tip-off.

The Raptors paid tribute to Casey on the video board during a first-quarter timeout. Casey was busy at the Pistons bench drawing up a play but waved to the standing crowd, mouthing thank you as the tribute wound down. Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas were among the Raptors players applauding at mid-court.

TORONTO — Raptors coach Nick Nurse might not have had a good look at Reggie Bullocks buzzer-beater.

The Raptors did not let sentimentality cloud their game. Leonard and Lowry hit their first six shots combined.

After a strong year in 2017-18, Miles has struggled to get going this time around. He is averaging just 4.8 points a night on 30.4 per cent shooting over 13 games. He has struggled even more so from beyond the arc, converting on 27.3 of his outside looks. 

Leonard was good on his first four shots and drew a foul on his fifth attempt and fed Siakam, resplendent in sea-foam green sneakers, rather than score himself after a steal.

Valanciunas, starting at centre, was tagged with a pair of fouls in the first quarter. That prompted an early appearance for Monroe who delivered 10 points in 12 first-half minutes.

Miles was injured during Mondays matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans in the second quarter. He left the game and did not return. He also battled a hip injury earlier in the season.

Torontos shooting cooled as the first quarter wore on but the home team led 31-25 after the first quarter. Torontos O.G. Anunoby had the crowd on its feet early in the second with a thundering dunk over the six-foot-11 Drummond and Leonard offered more of the same with a dunk on a three-on-none rush.

After their matchup with former head coach Dwane Casey and the Pistons, the Raptors will visit Boston to take on the Celtics Friday night. 

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says LeBron James got a lot of people fired

The Raptors extended their lead in the quarter and led 65-53 at the break. Toronto shot just 2-of-11 from three-point range (compared to 6-of-17 for Detroit) in the half but had a 30-20 edge in rebounds over the Pistons, a good rebounding side, and had a 44-28 edge in points in the paint.

The Toronto Raptors announce that forward C.J. Miles will miss Wednesdays matchup with the Detroit Pistons because of an adductor strain.

Dwane Caseys impact has yet to hit the Detroit Pistons

Monroe got the call again with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the third when Valanciunas picked up his fourth foul. But it was Toronto guard Fred VanVleet who drew the spotlight, drawing oohs for dribbling past Reggie Jackson like the Piston was a pylon.

The 61-year-old Casey led Toronto to three consecutive 50-win campaigns and four Atlantic Division titles in five seasons.

The Pistons meanwhile are coming from a much more humble position. Casey was right to note pre-game that he joined Detroit with two ready-made All-Stars in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond (unlike when he joined Toronto and his star guards had yet to make the leap). But it hasnt helped Detroit do anything more than break even — theyre 6-6 now, good for seventh place in a top-heavy conference. Casey has started from the bottom before, but this is more like the muddled middle. Itll be interesting to see what he can do tonight against his former team in Toronto — and for the rest of the NBA season.

But after failing to get past the Cavaliers again in the playoffs, Casey was fired May 11 — two days after being honoured with the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award by the National Basketball Coaches Association. He went on to win NBA Coach of the Year Award as voted on by the media, in June.

Share Share Raptors vs. Pistons Game Thread: Pre-game updates, TV info, and more tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports As it turns out, our predictions of pre-game Raptors-Pistons drama were for nothing. (Also, there were no predictions.) The Raptors are a business-oriented team now — check in, win, check out — theres not a lot of ambient chatter about the past. There hasnt been with Kawhi Leonard, who definitely works to make sure of that, and there hasnt been with Dwane Casey and Nick Nurse. (Despite some trying, let me tell you.)

Casey, who was 320-238 in seven seasons in Toronto was hired by the Pistons one month after being let go by the Raptors following a franchise-high 59-win season.

Aside from all that, theres still basketball to be played. The Raptors head into tonights game against the Pistons riding a one-game losing streak. Its not much, but for a team that is currently 12-2, it feels monumental. Add some injury concerns: Norman Powell, C.J. Miles, and now Serge Ibaka, the Raptors are behind the eight ball a tad tonight. Still, 12-2 and all that.

The capacity Scotiabank Arena welcomed the 61-year-old Detroit Pistons coach back to Toronto with a long and loud standing ovation while a video tribute played during Wednesday's game.

Toronto – Norman Powell (OUT – Left shoulder subluxation), C.J. Miles (OUT – Right adductor strain), Serge Ibaka (OUT – Right knee soreness)

Dwane Casey Gets His Revenge On The Raptors

The game between the Raptors and Pistons was Casey's first time back on the basketball court where he'd left so much "blood, sweat and tears," he said, over his seven-year tenure in Toronto.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry made a beeline for Casey just before tipoff, and wrapped the coach in a huge hug. During the video tribute, Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Pascal Siakam stood together at halfcourt applauding their former coach.

Win one for Casey: Pistons stun Raptors on final shot

"He was drawing up a play. They finished the video — and I was watching the video — and they were clapping. He was about to go over it again and I was like 'Coach stand up'. He deserved that, that was a special moment."

The celebration continued for Casey as the Pistons rallied from a 19-point deficit to edge the Raptors 106-104 on Reggie Bullock's buzzer-beater.

Bullocks buzzer-beater lifts Pistons in Dwane Caseys Toronto return

"I felt good. I felt good for the players," said Casey. "We were 19 down and didn't give up, didn't stop scrapping, didn't give in. That's who we are each and every night, we've been working on that and tonight we were successful with it against a very good team."

Casey's tenure in Toronto ended with a franchise-record 59-win regular season and an NBA coach of the year trophy, but also a third consecutive playoff loss to Cleveland, which ultimately cost him his job.

Pistons vs. Raptors final score: Detroit wins 106-104 after miraculous comeback in Dwane Caseys return to To…

He told a huge gathering of media at Wednesday morning's shoot around there were no hard feelings toward Toronto and the organization, and said he's proud of what he accomplished with what's now the league's hottest team.

"I left here with my head high and did what I was asked to do, to take this program . . . I know revisionist history and everyone wants to take credit for the wins, and the losses is an orphan," said Casey, who addressed every reporter with a handshake. "I'll take all the losses but I know what we started with, how it was built, what was built and how it got there. I take total pride in that."

Casey, who led the Raptors to a 320-238 record and five consecutive post-season appearances, said he'd been prepared for either cheers or boos from the Toronto crowd.

Toronto fans embrace Dwane Casey — as they should

"I've been in this league long enough," he said. "I went back to Minnesota after getting fired there. I'm a big boy. I feel good knowing I left something here in Canada that was positive and good, and it wasn't negative and bad. . . I have no ill will for anybody. I understand what happened, how it happened. I don't know why it happened. [But] I understand it."

Those in Canadian basketball will tell you Casey's influence on the sport here is felt beyond the Raptors, a fact he also takes pride in.

"I thank God every day I was able to come here and to give something to basketball as Vince Carter did, as a lot of great players before me came in here and did," he said. "I tried to help a lot of coaches across the country and in the city.

"It's big, basketball in Canada is at an all-time high. Some of the top players in this country and this city are being highly recruited and hopefully [I] had something to do with that and leave that little mark behind."

Casey often talked about how much he enjoyed living in Canada, and he had kind words Wednesday for the country he and wife Brenda and their two kids had embraced.

"Tim Hortons. My son loves Timbits and thank God they have Timbits and Tim Hortons in Detroit because he wouldn't be able to survive," he joked.

He added on a serious note: "Just treating people right, doing right by people, being nice to people, being honest with people. All those things are positive Canadian norms and values that I hope my kids picked up and it rubbed off on me, too."

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