The Toronto Raptors have won their second Atlantic Division title, though the clincher didn’t come in the fashion they hoped.
Heading for their sixth playoff appearance in 19 seasons of existence, they still have a chance to enter the postseason with plenty of momentum.
They hope to bounce back and win for the eighth time in 10 games when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
Toronto (46-33) squandered its chance to clinch the Atlantic on its own Friday, losing 108-100 at home to New York. Atlanta’s 93-88 victory over Brooklyn later in the evening gave them their first division crown since 2006-07.
Kyle Lowry, who had 25 points two nights after scoring 29 in his return from a three-game absence due to a sore knee, described the night as "sweet and sour." The Raptors fell a game behind Chicago for the third seed in the Eastern Conference with the Bulls’ victory over Detroit.
Toronto made a season high-tying 15 3-pointers on 33 attempts, but shot 34.9 percent from inside the arc, their second-lowest mark of the season.
DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points but was 6 of 18 from the field, while Terrence Ross was 4 for 12.
"It felt great to win the division," said DeRozan, 17 for 51 over his last three games. "I don’t think anybody would have picked us to win it, so that’s definitely a great accomplishment. We’re still anxious, we still want more."
Toronto and Chicago’s remaining schedules don’t figure to be overly challenging, though the Raptors’ final three games may be slightly more forgiving. They host last-place Milwaukee on Monday and visit the Knicks on Wednesday, while Chicago plays at New York on Sunday before hosting Orlando and visiting Charlotte.
The Pistons have lost two straight and 12 of 16 with opponents scoring 110.6 points and shooting 50.2 percent in the last nine games.
Andre Drummond scored 26 points and matched a career high with 26 rebounds – 19 in the first two periods – to help Detroit to an 18-point halftime lead at Chicago on Friday. The Bulls, though, went on a 15-0 run to overtake the Pistons and outscored them 36-18 in the final period for a 106-98 victory.
Drummond has averaged 19.6 points, 19.0 rebounds and 68.9 percent shooting in his last five. He has 55 double-doubles, trailing only Kevin Love (62) for the NBA lead.
Detroit’s Josh Smith is expected to be a game-time decision after missing three straight games with left patella tendinitis.
Toronto has gone 59 for 132 (44.7 percent) from 3-point range over its last five games, while Detroit has allowed four of its last five opponents to hit at least nine 3-pointers.
The Raptors have won four of five in the series, including two meetings this season by a combined 35 points.