Raptors 103, Pistons 93

After turning around a terrible start, the Detroit Pistons head

into All-Star weekend with a bad taste in their mouths.

DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, Aaron Gray set season highs with

12 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors snapped a

four-game losing streak, beating Detroit 103-93 on Wednesday

night.

”You don’t want to skip this game and get into the break but I

think we kind of did that,” said Greg Monroe, who led the Pistons

with 30 points and 14 rebounds. ”We have to find a way to stay

focused, no matter the circumstances.”

It was the second loss in as many nights for the Pistons, who

blew a 17-point lead and allowed a season-worst 35 fourth-quarter

points in Tuesday’s 101-100 loss at Cleveland.

Those back-to-back defeats came after Detroit, who opened the

season 4-20, ran off seven victories in nine games.

”We’ve shown what we’re capable of: both ends of the

spectrum,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said.

Frank, Detroit’s first year coach, said he wanted his team to

use the weekend off to adjust their mental focus.

”This gives us a healthy break to reflect on which kind of team

do we want to be,” he said. ”Do we want to be the group that

played the first 24 games or the group that was able to put

together consistent basketball for a little stretch?

”We want to be that (second) group. You have to mentally and

physically engaged to do it every night and that’s what we have to

commit to.”

Monroe certainly felt the sting of consecutive losses to

struggling opponents.

”It’s two games we definitely wanted to win,” he said. ”We

had some good momentum going into these two games. We’ll have to

take this break, regroup and find that same energy and focus we had

in those games we were winning.”

Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey came in averaging 23.5 points in his

previous five games but was held scoreless in this one, missing the

only two shots he took.

Leandro Barbosa scored 17 points, James Johnson had 15 and Amir

Johnson added 11 for the Raptors, who had lost seven of eight

coming in, and were coming off a disappointing home loss to

Charlotte, the NBA’s worst team.

”The guys competed,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ”We got

our defensive focus back.”

Ed Davis scored 10 points and Jose Calderon added 15 assists as

Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak against Detroit.

”We definitely needed that,” DeRozan said. ”I hope it carries

over into the second half. Detroit has been playing extremely well,

so that was a good test for us.”

Rookie Brandon Knight scored 16 points and Tayshaun Prince added

14 as Detroit dropped to 3-14 on the road.

Jason Maxiell scored 12 points for the Pistons, who had won

three of four.

Up by 14 points to begin the final quarter, Toronto put the game

away with a 15-6 run over the first four minutes. Davis scored six

points in the spurt, capping it with a fade away jumper as he was

falling down to put Toronto up 89-66, its biggest lead of the

night, with 8:09 to play.

After calling timeout, the Pistons rallied with a 13-0 run.

Knight hit a 3, Jonas Jerebko made a running dunk and Monroe scored

six straight points before Knight added a driving layup, cutting

the gap to 89-79 with 5:38 left.

”That game was obviously getting away from us and they kept on

clawing,” Frank said of his team’s effort.

Gray made two of four from the line to stop the run, then

answered another 3 by Knight with a layup as the Raptors held firm.

DeRozan added a free throw on the next possession, giving Toronto a

94-82 lead with 4:11 remaining.

”It’s just exciting to win,” Gray said. ”We didn’t finish as

well as we wanted to, but to win this game going into the All-Star

break is going to make us feel a lot better.”

DeRozan topped 20 points for the fifth time in seven games. He

scored 12 in the first quarter as the Raptors led 28-24 after one.

Toronto shot a sizzling 58 percent in the first quarter and was

almost as good in the second, making 12 of 21 attempts. They led

53-45 at the half.

Toronto missed eight of its first nine shots in the third

quarter, but a dunk by James Johnson and a 3 by Calderon, his first

basket of the night, sparked a 17-6 run over the next six minutes.

The Raptors led 74-60 heading into the fourth.

NOTES: Restricted free agent Wilson Chandler, who played in

China during the lockout, was in Toronto with his agent Wednesday

to ”explore opportunities” with team management, according to

Raptors PR staff. … Raptors F Linas Kleiza (left knee) missed his

third straight game. … Detroit swingman Damien Wilkins played

despite suffering from flulike symptoms. … Pistons G Will Bynum

was away from the team for personal reasons. … Toronto finished

its franchise-record seven game homestand at 2-5. The Raptors do

not play at home again until March 2.