For 24 minutes, the Raptors were one of the greatest defensive basketball teams in the world, holding Detroit to a mere 40 points in last night’s second half. The problem, of course, is that they coughed up 61 in the first two quarters, trailed by double digits much of the night and saw a late push come up short in a 101-95 at Air Canada Centre. Isiah Thomas scored 22 points and had 15 assists, Joe Dumars nailed seven threes and Dennis Rodman grabbed 21 rebounds for the Pistons, who lost Bill Laimbeer in the second quarter after he was ejected for punching two refs.
No, no, these weren’t exactly the Bad Boy Pistons. This was the 2011 version, led by Tracy McGrady and Charlie Villanueva. Detroit, coming in at 12-26 and 3-17 on the road, ran circles on the Raptors, who looked overmatched most of the night despite facing one of the league’s worst teams. T-Mac’s legs didn’t have quite the bounce they had 10 years ago, but he was still fresh enough to go off against his ex-team for a 22 points, while pitching in four boards and five assists in 36 minutes. Villanueva scored all 16 of his in the first half, but his quiet second meant little considering this one was finished after two quarters. Rodney Stuckey added 19 points and rookie Greg Monroe had 12 points, seven rebounds, three steals and a block.
Andrea Bargnani had a game-high 31 for Toronto, with a couple handfuls coming in a fourth quarter push that was too late to make it interesting. Jose Calderon had 11 and 13 assists, Amir Johnson had seven and 10 boards and DeMar DeRozan had 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Leandro Barbosa went down just before the halftime buzzer with a hamstring injury, though I haven’t caught word on the extent.
Anyway, that draws the Raptors’ three-game homestand to a close with a lone win over Sacramento on Sunday, leaving them 13-26 overall with a five-game road swing up next that promises to get ugly. After a game tonight in Washington, Toronto heads south to New Orleans for a Monday tip, followed by San Antonio Wednesday and Orlando and Miami on Friday and Saturday. Oh well, at least we don’t have to worry about any broken noses or late season collapses this season.