The Toronto Raptors continue to be plagued by injuries and have struggled through most of December. The Detroit Pistons should be a very welcome sight for them.
Looking to follow up on a record-setting comeback win over the Pistons earlier this month, Toronto goes for its sixth consecutive victory in the series Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors (10-18) have gone 2-7 in their last nine games, so a matchup with the Pistons could be coming at the perfect time. Toronto has outscored Detroit by 13.2 points during the five-game run and recorded the biggest comeback in franchise history in the last meeting Dec. 11.
The visiting Raptors trailed by 25 midway through the third quarter, but cut the deficit to 16 heading into the fourth and outscored the Pistons 37-17 over the final 12 minutes for a 120-116 win.
Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani had 22 points in that victory, but he’s missed two of the last three games – both Toronto losses – due to knee and ankle issues and is uncertain for Wednesday. He’s averaging 21.4 points on the season and has averaged 27.5 in his last two matchups with the Pistons.
“His ankle is compensating for his knee,” coach Jay Triano said. “He’s been limping around because of the pain in his knee and it’s caused irritation in his ankle.”
Bargnani is one of many banged-up Raptors that are nursing nagging injuries. The team did get encouraging performances from two of them, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza, in a 120-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Calderon had 20 points and 12 assists in his second game back after missing four with a sore foot, while Kleiza (sore Achilles’) scored 26 points with 10 rebounds.
“I think I’m finally healthy,” Kleiza said. “I’m getting there, my legs are feeling good, they put me back in the starting lineup. Consistent minutes and playing along Jose (Calderon) and getting in that flow early in the game – it helps.”
The Raptors led the Lakers 34-28 after one quarter, but allowed them to shoot 51.9 percent from the field overall.
After starting 18 straight games, swingman Sonny Weems has sat out the previous two with back spasms and is uncertain to play Wednesday. He is averaging 11.5 points, third best on the team.
Detroit (9-19) was able to overcome injury issues of its own Sunday, defeating New Orleans 111-108 in overtime despite playing without both starting guards.
Ben Gordon scored 25 points and Will Bynum had a season-high 21 as they made up for the absences of Richard Hamilton (upset stomach) and Rodney Stuckey (sore big toe). Those two starters are uncertain for Wednesday.
“(I’m) very proud of this bunch that played today,” coach John Kuester said. “It’s amazing what happens when you do compete.”
Detroit has won two of three since a four-game skid, but has dropped a season-worst eight straight on the road. The Pistons are averaging an NBA-low 88.4 points as visitors.
Ben Wallace, who has played in 999 NBA games, had a career-high 23 points and 14 rebounds – nine offensive – along with five steals and four assists versus Toronto on Dec. 11.
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