Raps put depth to the test
The Raptors needed a boost before heading into a tough part of the schedule and last night they received it.
First from the bench and later by three of their big four starters.
The Raptors bent, a few times, particularly late in the game, but ultimately did not break, hanging on for a 110-99 win over a determined Detroit Pistons side.
Head coach Jay Triano has said that one of the major differences this season, compared to last year's squad, is the depth on the bench.
When a couple of starters were firing on less than all cylinders early in the game, particularly point guard Jose Calderon and rookie shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, Triano went to his bench, and swingman Antoine Wright and point guard Jarrett Jack answered the call in a big way.
With Toronto trailing the Pistons 25-19 late in the first quarter, Triano called for Wright and Jack, and within seven minutes, the home side held a 10-point lead.
The Pistons fought to within four (86-82) early in the fourth quarter when starting centre Andrea Bargnani nailed a three, and, on Detroit's subsequent possession, blocked a Ben Gordon shot.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Marco Belinelli missed two straight threes and Detroit e draw closer.
Detroit's Will Bynum hit a three and scored on a layup to give the visitors a 91-90 lead with just over seven minutes left -- the Pistons first lead since early in the second quarter. But thanks largely to the efforts of Bargnani, the home side held on.
The win improved the Raptors to 2-2 on the season with Detroit dropping to 2-3. It was also the second win for Toronto against a team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back.
Bargnani finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Calderon played 31 minutes, picking up nine points and only two assists, his first dime not coming until just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Wright picked up his fourth foul with 1:22 left in the third and finished the game with 12 points, his best performance of the season.
Toronto's all-star power forward Chris Bosh was aggressive with the ball, scoring 25 points, 15 the result of free throws. He also picked up eight rebounds.
Starting small forward Hedo Turkoglu quietly put together a solid performance, with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Detroit guard Ben Gordon scored a game-high 30 points, while Bynum came off the bench for 16, including a big fourth quarter that saw him score nine. Detroit's starting point guard Rodney Stuckey had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Former Raptor Charlie Villanueva held a hot hand early, but faded in the later stages of the game, finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Toronto led by 17 early in the third quarter but the Pistons, despite playing the night before, chipped away at the lead and trailed by only eight with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Raptors trailed by as much as nine in the first half, but took a 68-56 lead at the break, finishing the second quarter with two free throws by Jack at the buzzer.
The Raptors endeavor on a difficult part of the schedule, beginning tomorrow night with a game in New Orleans, followed by games in Dallas (Saturday) and San Antonio (Monday) before returning home next Wednesday for a game against Chicago.
They then leave on a three-game west coast swing with stops in Los Angeles against the Clippers, Phoenix and Denver.