Andrea Bargnani's recent comments about the Toronto Raptors' ineptitude may have been somewhat accurate at the time, but his teammates are doing their part to change it.
While they may still be among the worst teams in the NBA, the Raptors are on the brink of their longest winning streak in more than two years, and a visit from the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night should help even though Bargnani can't.
Bargnani called the Raptors (7-19) "pretty much the worst team in the NBA" in Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport last week. He also said their 4-19 start was "tragic" and "a desperate situation."
Toronto has won three in a row since he made the comments, and the oft-injured Bargnani hasn't been much help. While he reportedly claimed he was misquoted, Bargnani has missed four games with a torn right elbow ligament that will keep him out indefinitely.
Kyle Lowry (triceps) has also missed the last four games, but his backup has the Raptors on the brink of winning four straight for the first time since Nov. 17-24, 2010. Two days after recording a triple-double in a victory over Houston, Jose Calderon scored a season-high 23 points in Tuesday's 113-99 win at Cleveland as Toronto snapped an 11-game road losing streak.
"At some point, you have to play and have some fun," said Calderon, who's averaging 18.3 points, 7.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds while hitting 58.3 percent over the past three games. "At the end of the day, it's a team sport. It's about doing it the right way and getting everyone involved - that's what we're doing right now."
Reserve swingman Alan Anderson (9.8 points per game) has scored 42 points while making half of his 24 field goals over the last two.
Anderson and Calderon weren't a factor in a 91-90 loss at Detroit on Nov. 23. While Calderon had five points off the bench and Anderson was out with an ankle injury, Bargnani led the way with a season-high 34.
The Raptors, 5-5 at home, have dropped six of seven matchups with Detroit but won the latest at home 103-93 on Feb. 22.
Had Bargnani been watching the Pistons (7-20) play recently, he might have a different assessment about which team is the league's worst. They've dropped five in a row, averaging 89.8 points on 40.2 percent shooting - 31.3 from beyond the arc.
Detroit is also 2-12 on the road, where it'll be for three of the next four games. However, that stretch includes a home-and-home set this weekend against Washington - the team with the NBA's actual worst record.
The Pistons' woes continued Monday as they turned the ball over 17 times while falling 88-76 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"We did enough defensive things to win the game, but when you are going against a team that strips and steals the ball and is very aggressive, everything has to be sharp," coach Lawrence Frank said. "We have to be more precise."
Brandon Knight is trying to get back on track after totaling 30 points while shooting 11 for 33 from the floor in the past two games. The guard averaged 23.0 points over the previous five games.
Knight has averaged 17.5 points in four career meetings with Toronto.