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Pistons' Calderon enjoys winning return to Toronto

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Jose Calderon said repeatedly it felt weird returning to Air Canada Centre to play against the Toronto Raptors and not for them on Monday.

There were emotional moments for him, particularly after a video tribute during a timeout midway through the first quarter that was followed by a standing ovation from the crowd of 17,115.

However, the point guard, who played in Toronto for eight years, seized the moment rather than let it get the better of him. Calderon scored 19 points and added nine assists as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Raptors 108-98 to snap a three-game losing streak.

Calderon said the ovation was emotional for him but did not admit to tears.

"No tears were out, but it was close," he said. "It was close."

Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan said, "It is definitely weird. I am glad the crowd gave him a standing ovation. That was big and I was happy about that."

"It was deserved," said Greg Monroe, who led Detroit with 24 points, 10 in the third quarter. "I can't imagine all the emotions."

At halftime, Calderon took a few steps toward the home dressing room instead of the visitors'.

"They caught me real quick, so it was just like three or four steps," he said.

The loss officially put the Raptors out of the playoffs. Toronto fell to 27-47.

"It hurts," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Our goal was to knock on the door and get into the playoffs."

The big difference was the Detroit bench, with Rodney Stuckey scoring 18 points, Jonas Jerebko 15 and Khris Middleton 11. Jerebko had 10 points in the fourth quarter, Stuckey nine and Middleton seven.

"I thought that fourth-quarter group was tremendous," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "Great ball movement, good spacing, unselfish basketball. Defensively in a game where both sides kind of struggled to defend to get stops on six of the last eight possessions, that fourth-quarter group, each of the guys really impacted the game."

The Pistons (25-50) were down by four points after the third quarter and trailed by one with 4:32 to play before taking control. Toronto pulled to within five points with one minute to play, but Jerebko's putback dunk clinched the game.

Rudy Gay led Toronto with 34 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 17, and DeRozan had 15.

The Raptors have lost two in a row after defeating the Pistons last Friday.

Calderon admitted that it was a hard night for him.

"It was," he said, "but it was better than expected. It was a good night, everybody was sharing the ball, moving. We got the stops at the end, like six of the last eight or something like that when we needed them."

Casey said, "Again, tonight's game is about defense. The first team that was going to play defense was going to win the game, and they played it first. We have to close out these games."

Casey said Amir Johnson, who played 37 minutes, twisted his knee when making a block on Monroe.

"That was a big play for us," the coach said. "When Amir is not healthy or playing at full speed, it hurts us."

Gay added, "It came down to execution at the end of the game on the offensive and defensive end. We had the game in our grasp, we had the upper hand and let it get away."

Toronto led by four going into the fourth quarter, but Monroe promptly cut it to two with a driving bank shot. The Pistons tied the score on Jerebko's layup and took an 83-81 lead on Middleton's reverse layup with 9:40 to play.

Stuckey's layup and free throw stretched Detroit's lead to five and Calderon's pull-up jumper increased the lead to seven. After Gay's missed jumper, Middleton's layup gave the Pistons a 90-81 lead with 7:45 to play.

The Raptors took advantage of Pistons misses to pull back to three when Gay hit two foul shots with 6:10 to play. After the Pistons opened up the lead to seven, the Raptors whittled the advantage to two on DeRozan's turnaround jumper. Gay's 3-pointer gave Toronto a one-point lead, but Middleton answered with a 3 for Detroit.

Stuckey made it a five-point lead with a 3-pointer, and Jerebko's 20-foot jumper put the Pistons up 101-94 with 2:29 to play.

NOTES: Raptors forward Landry Fields did not play after follow-up testing on his right elbow. Fields underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery on Nov. 14 because of compression/entrapment in the elbow. Fields will be seen by Dr. Vernon Williams and Dr. Steve Shin at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. ... The Raptors activated forward Quincy Acy for the game, and he scored four points in eight minutes. ... Calderon is the Raptors' career leader in assists with 3,770. ... Both teams are in action again Wednesday. Toronto is home to the Washington Wizards, and the Pistons visit the Boston Celtics.
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