Pistons Take On Raptors
DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors are finishing disappointing seasons. Even if the condensed schedule or multiple injuries have contributed to the losing, neither coach wants to hear the excuses.
Detroit hosts Toronto on Sunday night in a matchup of teams looking to break out of slumps.
The Pistons (23-40) are coming off a 2-4 stretch in which they played six games in eight days, falling 91-80 to visiting Minnesota on Thursday before finally getting consecutive days off.
The latest loss was their third game in three nights, but coach Lawrence Frank refused to blame fatigue for the lackluster effort.
“There are no excuses,” Frank told the team’s official website. “The schedule is what it is. The last time we had three (games) in three (days), our best game was the third game on the road. This is when you have to fight even harder through things. It’s not going to be easy, nor should it be easy.”
Toronto coach Dwane Casey felt similarly after his squad fell 96-72 at Miami on Wednesday. The Raptors (22-41) have played most of their season without injured star Andrea Bargnani, and starting point guard Jose Calderon (eye) may be done for the season after missing the last four games.
Still, Casey said his players need to step up their games if Toronto wants to be a playoff team down the road.
“I told our core guys if we want to get to where we want to go, we have to have a full fight for 48 minutes,” Casey said. “When things get hard – which they’re going to in the NBA – (we need) to be mentally tough to know how to fight back.”
Toronto has lost six of eight and tied a franchise low with 23 second-half points against the Heat. James Johnson scored 18 points and DeMar DeRozan added 12.
“If we plan on playing in the playoffs next year, that’s how it is every game,” said DeRozan, who had averaged 22.3 points over his previous three games. “We’ve got to be able to take it.”
DeRozan scored 23 points to help Toronto overcome Greg Monroe’s 30 points and 14 rebounds in a 103-93 victory Feb. 22, ending a three-game losing streak to the Pistons.
Detroit evened the season series March 10 in the most recent meeting, with Rodney Stuckey and rookie Brandon Knight combining for 39 points and 15 assists in a 105-86 win.
The Pistons, though, have dropped seven of nine overall. The starting lineup shot a combined 16 for 50 from the field in Thursday’s loss.
Will Bynum had 17 points off the bench in the fourth quarter, but Detroit failed to score more than that total in any of the first three periods.
Bynum agreed with Frank that the compressed schedule shouldn’t be a factor at this point.
“We haven’t had legs all season,” Bynum said. “Can’t complain about that now.”
Detroit has won 13 of the last 16 home matchups with Toronto.
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