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Toronto Vs. Detroit

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Richard Hamilton wanted to prove a point last month in Toronto after coach John Kuester had taken him out of the lineup the previous game. Hamilton might not get that opportunity during this visit to Air Canada Centre.

With rumors swirling that Hamilton will be a part of a potential Carmelo Anthony trade, the Pistons look to snap a five-game road losing streak when they face the Raptors on Friday night.

After starting 21 straight games, Hamilton didn’t play in a 111-108 overtime victory over New Orleans on Dec. 19, with an upset stomach given as the reason. He came off the bench in Detroit’s next game three nights later, scoring a season-high 35 points and hitting a career-high six 3-pointers in a 115-93 victory over the Raptors.

Hamilton, who has not started since, said afterward that he wanted “to make a statement.” That apparent extra motivation helped Detroit (12-26) snap a five-game skid to Toronto with its most lopsided road win since a 96-74 victory over Memphis on Oct. 28, 2009.

Hamilton may feel the same way after sitting out a 107-99 defeat to the Grizzlies on Wednesday. It was the first time since he rested for the playoffs in the final contest of the 2008-09 regular season that he did not play in a game he dressed for.

“No one warned me about it. I was completely surprised,” Hamilton said. “Do I think it was a level of disrespect or unfair or anything like that? I’ll leave that to y’all.”

Kuester attributed the benching of the three-time All-Star to trying to find a solution to the Pistons’ season-long funk. He said that speculation over Hamilton being included in a potential three-team deal that would send Anthony to New Jersey played no part.

“Don’t read anything into that,” Kuester said. “We shortened the rotation and changed the lineup. That’s it.”

The latest change in the starting lineup had former Raptor Tracy McGrady (16 points, six rebounds) and Chris Wilcox replacing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, while rookie Greg Monroe (14 points and 11 rebounds) stepped in for the injured Ben Wallace. The moves, though, did nothing to improve the Pistons’ third-quarter performance.

After getting outscored 33-15 in the third period of a 95-82 loss in Chicago on Monday, Detroit gave up 30 points and scored 18 in the third against Memphis.

“Maybe we should make the halftime a little bit longer, go for 20 minutes instead of just 15,” Kuester told the Pistons’ official website.

Detroit, 1-13 in its last 14 away from The Palace of Auburn Hills, is shooting 41.3 percent in the third quarter.

While Detroit will again look for answers to its road woes, Toronto (13-25) will be trying to end its funk at Air Canada Centre before beginning a five-game trip Saturday.

The Raptors suffered their seventh loss in nine home games Wednesday, 104-101 to Atlanta.

“It’s sad, we worked really hard,” guard Leandro Barbosa said after scoring a season-best 26 points. “It’s going to be tough for all of us to sleep, knowing that we had the game and that we did a good job.”

Toronto took the teams’ first meeting of the season in record fashion Dec. 11 at The Palace, erasing a 25-point deficit midway through the third quarter and winning 120-116 in the biggest comeback in franchise history.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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