TORONTO, (Reuters) – There was no Christmas comeback for the Toronto Raptors as the Detroit Pistons rolled into the holiday break with a 115-93 win on Wednesday, ending an eight-game losing streak on the road.
Earlier this month, Detroit had watched as the Raptors erased a 25-point third quarter deficit to register the biggest comeback win in franchise history.
But this time the Pistons would not let Toronto up off the mat once they had them down, opening up a 32-point cushion in the fourth quarter on the way to notching their first win in six meetings with the Raptors.
Richard Hamilton, who has been the subject of trade rumours, led the Pistons with a season-high 35 points off the bench while Rodney Stuckey contributed 21 and former Raptor Charlie Villanueva chipped in with 18.
Ben Wallace, playing in his 1,000th career game, contributed just four points and six rebounds for the Pistons but coach John Kuester was full of praise for the big centre. “A couple of accomplishments, one of them was Ben Wallace getting his 1,000th game, a player who hadn’t been drafted,” Kuester told reporters. “What an accomplishment and a wonderful human being.
“I know Ben did not shoot the ball tonight but Ben was doing other things. The way he was playing, I liked his energy.”
The injury-hit Raptors got 21 points from Leandro Barbosa, 19 from Linas Kleiza and 16 from Andrea Bargnani, who injured his calf and watched the end of the game on the bench with team mates Peja Stojakovic (knee), Reggie Evans (foot), Sonny Weems (back spasms) and Jerryd Bayless (food poisoning).
The Raptors narrowly trailed 24-23 after the first quarter but found themselves in an 18-point hole at 62-44 down going into the intermission.
The Pistons made sure of no repeat of their Dec. 11 meltdown, Kuester warning his players during the break that they needed to keep up the pressure.
“It was mentioned,” said Kuester. “We realised we had to continue with the same type of focus we had in the beginning.
“It’s a good win going into this Christmas break.”
The under-manned Raptors attempted to bite into the Detroit advantage in the third quarter but the Pistons weathered the fightback by maintaining their 18-point cushion before delivering the knockout punch in the fourth with a 15-0 run.