Raptors-Pistons Preview

The Associated Press

The Detroit Pistons are stumbling toward the end of another non-playoff season.

The Toronto Raptors are following a similar path.

Detroit tries to end a seven-game home losing streak and earn its second win overall this month when it takes on the sinking Raptors, who will face former teammate Jose Calderon for the first time Friday night.

The Pistons (24-48) are 1-11 in March and 2-14 in their last 16, and they've been overwhelmed during their home skid, getting outscored by an average of 103.1-86.6.

Detroit was showered with boos while falling 105-82 to Minnesota on Tuesday, the fifth time during the home slide that it managed 82 or fewer points.

"We deserved everything we got tonight,'' Frank said. "We've got 24 wins and not many games left. The fans that were out here tonight are the hardcore loyalists, and we need to give them a better product. They have every right to boo us right now.''

The Pistons last dropped eight in a row at home Dec. 30, 2000-Feb. 2, 2001. However, they've won four straight against the Raptors in Detroit, taking the most recent meeting there 91-90 on Nov. 23.

Toronto (26-45) evened the season series and ended a three-game skid in the overall series with a 97-91 victory Dec. 19 behind 23 points from DeMar DeRozan and 17 assists from Calderon.

The point guard, who spent his first seven-plus seasons with the Raptors, was acquired by the Pistons in a three-team deal Jan. 30 that sent Rudy Gay from Memphis to Toronto.

The Raptors won seven of 10 following Gay's arrival, but they've lost 12 of 15 since in what will be their fifth consecutive season of not making the playoffs.

There was talk of shutting Gay down for the season after he injured his back last Friday against New York and then missed Saturday's finale of the home-and-home with the Knicks. However, he should be able to go after returning Wednesday and scoring 15 points with a season high-tying 12 rebounds in a 107-88 loss to Atlanta.

Toronto, though, could be without forward Amir Johnson. If that's the case, coach Dwane Casey is hoping the team handles it better than it did Wednesday when it was outscored 55-29 after Johnson left in the third quarter with a left leg contusion.

"We didn't respond when they got physical,'' Casey said.

That could be a problem against Pistons center Greg Monroe, who has been at his best when facing the Raptors this season, totaling 54 points and 21 rebounds. He scored a career-high 35 and grabbed 10 boards Dec. 19.

Pistons rookie forward Andre Drummond, who had his first double-double Nov. 23 with 13 points and 13 rebounds, could play for the first time since Feb. 6 after being out with a stress fracture in his back.

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