Pistons 74, Raptors 66
The Pistons, who are locked into the Eastern Conference’s third seed, had just enough to beat the already-eliminated Raptors 74-66 for their sixth straight win.
“That was ugly, but winning makes it a little more beautiful,” said Rasheed Wallace. “Our position is locked, so we have to play these games for ourselves right now. We just want to go out there and have a little fun.”
Toronto’s Vince Carter, who scored 18 points despite missing 15 of his 21 field goals, isn’t enjoying playing out the string.
“I hate being in this situation—we are too good to be here,” he said. “It’s really tough to go out there when there is nothing to play for.”
The Pistons were missing point guard Chauncey Billups (ankle), but won for the 14th time in 16 games, including 10 straight at home. They also extended their NBA record by holding an opponent under 70 points for the 11th time this season.
Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Tayshaun Prince added 14. Detroit also had a 55-41 edge on the boards, thanks to 16 rebounds from Ben Wallace and 12 from Rasheed Wallace.
“All in all, this was about our team’s defense,” Prince said. “Rip really picked it up, and Ben and Rasheed did, too.”
“That wasn’t much of an offensive performance by either team,” Rose said. “But that’s how they play—you just have to understand that to beat them, you’ll have to win ugly.”
Ex-Piston Michael Curry’s layup tied the game at 58 with 8:55 left.
The Pistons’ defense took over at that point, holding the Raptors to just two points in the next four minutes, but the offense was only able to build a 64-60 advantage.
Hamilton finally hit three straight jumpers to put the game away.
“That was ugly, but we defended well enough, especially down the stretch,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “Rip did some unbelievable things late, and we got a win.”
Detroit led 38-33 at the half, holding the Raptors to 25.6 percent shooting and getting points from nine players. The Pistons started the third quarter with an 11-2 run, helped by Toronto turnovers on its first two possessions.
Oddly, it was Brown who ended the surge by calling a timeout, and theRaptors responded by scoring the next eight points to pull to 49-43.
Brown wore a Detroit Tigers hat and Ivan Rodriguez jersey to his post-game press conference. “I’m jumping on the bandwagon,” he joked. Several members of the Minnesota Twins, in town to play the Tigers, attended the game on a day off. … The Pistons’ 52 wins are their most since they went 54-28 in 1996-97. … Carter missed 11 of his first 13 shots. … The Pistons missed eight of their first 16 free throws, including four straight misses by Ben Wallace. … Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace all picked up technicalsfor arguing calls in the first quarter, while Carter got one in the fourth.