Pistons-Raptors Preview

In the midst of another losing streak, the Toronto Raptors know

how important a win heading into the All-Star break would be.

The Raptors, however, could have a hard time getting back on

track Wednesday night against the visiting Detroit Pistons, who

have won three straight in this series.

Toronto (9-23), which dropped a season-worst eight straight Jan.

10-22, have lost four in a row and seven of eight overall. While

three of those most recent losses came against likely playoff

contenders, Friday’s 98-91 defeat to NBA-worst Charlotte left a bad

taste in the Raptors’ mouths.

“If you look at the record yes, this is a game we should have

had and we definitely need the next one going into the All Star

break,” said DeMar DeRozan, who had a game-high 24 points. “We need

to be able to close out games moving forward.”

Last in the Atlantic Division, Toronto has been outscored by

just 4.8 points per game during its skid. The Raptors had shot 51.1

percent from the field over their previous three games before being

limited to 41.7 percent versus the Bobcats.

“It cannot happen,” said Jose Calderon, averaging 20.4 points

and 9.6 assists over his last five contests. “We cannot just can’t

come out here at home and be flat like that … We have to play

good against every team.

“We have to get better at it. We have four days to get better at

it and try to get a win against Detroit and go into the All-Star

break.”

Since beating Detroit (11-23) five consecutive times, the

Raptors have been outscored by an average of 14.0 points in its

losing streak in the series.

While the Pistons are at the bottom of the Central, it’s safe to

say they’ve picked up the pace of late after winning seven of

10.

Detroit led by as many as 17 points Tuesday and found itself on

the verge of a fourth straight victory before things fell apart in

a 101-100 loss at Cleveland.

The Pistons were outrebounded 18-8 and surrendered a

season-worst 35 points in the fourth quarter. They had no answer

for this season’s No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving, who scored 17 of

his 25 points in the final period.

“We just stopped getting stops,” fellow rookie Brandon Knight,

who scored 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting, told the team’s official

website. “It’s never going to be one player. Anything that we do is

going to be on us. We just started giving up easy baskets. I think

it was 20 points in the first six minutes of the fourth. It was

really just us not buckling down.”

Greg Monroe, averaging 20.5 points on 64.9 percent shooting in

his last four road games, had 19 and 11 boards to go along with a

career-high seven assists Tuesday. Tayshaun Prince, meanwhile,

scored just seven points on a season-worst 2-of-15 shooting.

Tuesday’s loss dropped Detroit to 3-13 on the road, where it’s

averaging 85.9 points to rank 29th in the league. The Raptors are

4-0 at home when holding opponents below 90 points but 0-11 when

teams score 90 or more.

Toronto continues to play without star Andrea Bargnani and could

also be without Linas Kleiza in this one. Kleiza (left knee) missed

his second straight game Friday, leaving his status for Wednesday

unknown.