Pistons 101, Raptors 95

Tracy McGrady kept the Detroit Pistons from having another third
quarter letdown.

McGrady scored 10 of his 22 points in the third, Rodney Stuckey
finished with 19 and the Pistons beat the Toronto Raptors 101-95
Friday night.

”In the past couple of games, the third quarter has been our
downfall, just coming out flat and then we’re trying to play
catch-up later in the game,” McGrady said. ”Tonight I wanted to
impose my will on the game in the third quarter and, as you see, I
was pretty aggressive.”

Charlie Villanueva had 16 points and eight rebounds while rookie
Greg Monroe scored 12 for the Pistons, who had lost five of their
last six games. Chris Wilcox had 12 rebounds and four points.

Leading by seven points at the half, Villanueva said the Pistons
reminded themselves not to let up after the intermission.

”That was something we talked about at halftime,” Villanueva
said. ”We were poised throughout the whole game. We played a good
48 minutes of basketball. We beat them in every quarter except for
the last one. I think we played well overall.”

Pistons coach John Kuester said McGrady, who made his second
straight start in Detroit’s new-look lineup, helped control the
flow of the offense.

”He did a great job,” Kuester said. ”I was very impressed
with his pace of the game, his control, making big plays when we
needed some big plays going down the stretch.”

A reserve earlier this season as he rehabbed his surgically
repaired knee, McGrady said his health is coming along.

”I’m starting to feel a lot better physically,” the former
Raptor said. ”Being out for so long I think I’ve actually gotten a
little smarter on the basketball court, just from seeing the game
from afar.”

Andrea Bargnani scored 31 points and DeMar DeRozan had 15 for
the Raptors, who have lost eight of 10 at home and nine of 12
overall.

”Guys should be embarrassed when a team runs a play six times
in a row right at you,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said.

Linas Kleiza scored 13 points for Toronto while Jose Calderon
had 11 points and 13 assists.

The Pistons came in having lost 12 of their previous 13 road
games, including the past five in a row. Detroit’s last road win
was a 115-93 win at Toronto on December 15.

In that game, Richard Hamilton scored 35 points and made a
career-high six 3-pointers. Hamilton was held out of this one, the
second straight game he has not played. Reported to be part of the
Carmelo Anthony trade negotiations between Denver, New Jersey and
Detroit, Hamilton sat out Detroit’s home loss to Memphis on
Wednesday.

”This is a very different situation for me,” Hamilton said.
”I’ve never been in this situation my whole career. I don’t know
where to look.”

Hamilton said he’s consulted his agent about the sudden lack of
court time, but has not spoken with anyone else.

”Do I want to play?” Hamilton said. ”Yes. Do I want to be on
the floor competing? Yes. Am I doing that right now? No. I want to
play, I want to get on the floor, I want to get an opportunity to
do something that I love to do.”

Raptors guard Leandro Barbosa had to be carried to the locker
room with 3 seconds left in the half after he strained his right
hamstring. He did not return.

Barbosa and Sonny Weems (back) will not travel with the team to
Washington for Saturday’s game against the Wizards, the opener of
the five-game trip.

Back-to-back jump shots by Bargnani cut it to 96-91 with 1:18
left, the closest Toronto had been in the fourth. But McGrady
answered with a reverse layup, his first basket of the fourth
quarter, to push Detroit’s lead back to seven points.

DeRozan made a jumper in the lane and McGrady shot’s rimmed out,
but Monroe stripped Johnson under the Detroit basket. Stuckey was
fouled and made one of two with 18 seconds remaining to put the
Pistons up by six. Bargnani missed a layup and Gordon was fouled,
hitting both free throws with 11.5 seconds to go and giving Detroit
a 101-93 lead. Calderon finished with a layup, but Toronto lost for
the 15th time in 20 games.

NOTES: Detroit’s Ben Wallace (left ankle) missed his second
straight game. … Weems was inactive for the 12th time in 13
games. Weems dressed but did not play in Wednesday’s loss to
Atlanta. … Detroit is 4-17 on the road.