So James bit—yes, bit—his former Detroit teammate and had a career night.
James scored 20 of his career-high 39 points in the fourth quarter to help the Raptors end a 10-game losing streak with a 108-103 victory over the Pistons on Friday night. James scored Toronto’s last 13 points to surpass his previous career high of 38, set Nov. 16 against Philadelphia.
James, who won a title with Detroit in 2004, and the Pistons’ Rasheed Wallace joked with each other throughout the game. Wallace even attempted a 3-pointer with his left hand in the third quarter. He missed badly.
“Yeah, I knew it was time to get him out when he did that,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.
Detroit has already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
“It wasn’t nothing. It was just a shot,” Wallace said.
James didn’t mind his buddy having fun.
“He’s a trip,” James said. “He probably tried to mock us a little bit. I’m glad it was all backboard. It didn’t even touch rim.”
Asked what his best line to Wallace was, James said: “I bit him. He grabbed me in a headlock and I bit him. It felt so good. I tried to pull some skin off him.”
James went 18-for-18 from the line—setting a team record for free throws made. He made all 12 of his attempts in the fourth quarter.
James is expected to opt out his contract this summer and become a free agent.
“Mike James is great, man. He won a championship with us and now he’s in Toronto making his mark. The guy can play,” Detroit’s Richard Hamilton said.
Chauncey Billups had 15 points—on 6-for-6 shooting from the field—and added 10 assists for the Pistons, who rested their starters in the fourth quarter.
“We want to keep sharp and not be hurt, but still be competitive and have opportunities to win. We’ll pretty much play the same way,” Saunders said.
The Pistons need one win in their final three games to finish with the winningest season in franchise history—surpassing the 63 victories they had in 1988-89 en route to winning the first of two straight NBA titles.
James’ 3-pointer gave Toronto a 96-90 lead with 2:40 left.
Lindsey Hunter’s 3-pointer cut the lead to one with 1:28 remaining, but James made two free throws and a layup to make it 102-99 with 55 seconds left.
The Pistons closed within one three times in the final minute, but James answered with two free throws each time.
Trailing 106-103 with 11 seconds left, Carlos Delfino turned the ball over by tripping, allowing James to seal the victory with two free throws after being fouled with 3.3 seconds left.
Billups had 10 of Detroit’s first 20 points.
Toronto’s skid was its longest since dropping 12 straight from Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 10, 2003. … A crowd of 19,800 attended the game, Toronto’s fifth sellout of the season.