Pistons squander 25-point lead, lose to Raptors
-- Saturday should have been one of those magical evenings for center Ben Wallace.
He drank from the fountain of youth, found his offensive game and was a major reason the Pistons built a 25-point lead and appeared to land an early knockout blow to the faltering Toronto Raptors at The Palace.
Instead Wallace sat shaking his head saying he felt: "Busted and disgusted" even though he scored a career high 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
The Pistons lost their fourth straight game and eighth in the last nine in stunning fashion. They went from dominant to dumbfounded during a 120-116 loss before 13,343 angry fans at the Palace.
It was the largest comeback in Raptors history. The previous high was a 22-point rally on three occasions, the last coming against the Los Angeles Clippers Nov. 3, 2009.
Saturday's was a game that will be talked about for quite some time and will give fans reason to doubt Pistons coach John Kuester and wonder if the Pistons (7-19) are done for the season.
"Busted and disgusted," Wallace said. "We had an opportunity to get a win and then we took it off. Busted and disgusted. I am getting tired of losing. It ain't no fun, especially when you have control of the game and let it get away."
Kuester said he will spend his off day Sunday looking at film trying to figure out what happened to an offense that hummed for three quarters before being outscored 37-17 in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 43-17 run.
One mistake may have been sitting Tracy McGrady the entire second half. But Kuester thought the game was over and wanted to rest McGrady, who hobbled after a play in the first half.
"I am pointing one finger at myself," Kuester said. "That is what I want you guys to understand. Our guys played hard."
They played hard but began to short-arm shots in the fourth quarter after being so fluid in the first 36 minutes. The Pistons finished with season highs in assists (30) and points in a half (72) while Rodney Stuckey had a season high of 12 assists.
But even though the Pistons were humming, they really never shut the Raptors down. Toronto shot 63 percent from the field and made nine of 14 3-pointers. Guard Jerryd Bayless scored 31 points and passed for seven assists. The Pistons could not keep him out of the lane and he either scored or found Andrea Bargnani (22 points), Leandro Barbosa (22 points) and Linas Kieiza (11 points) on the perimeter.
The Raptors also fired themselves up with pointed commentary during halftime. The key for the Raptors was a 6-0 run that cut a 22-point deficit to 16 entering the final quarter.
"I think it was between us out there," guard DeMar DeRozan said. "Everybody spoke up and said that we were frustrated out there and we came to our senses out there. We said that we didn't want to get embarrassed and then we responded and got on a roll and won the game."Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince admitted the Raptors played well but he said it is a game the Pistons never should have lost.
"They have that type of firepower to make it happen but there is no way, unexplainable. That's typical of what's been going on this season, I can't' explain it."
Now it is time for everybody else to explain it. There are certain signature losses that get the fans riled up. This was one of them.
"I just don't know how you walk off that court and lose that game," Prince said.
Ben Wallace sure didn't know how it happened. He was angry, bewildered and confused. He also did not have any answers.
"I wish I knew," he said. "I don't know. I am trying to figure it out myself. You are having control of a game in the third quarter and all of a sudden you are in a dogfight, fighting for our lives."
Dec. 12, 2010