Raptors 102 Pistons 95
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors showed early in the season they would have no trouble scoring. Now they’re starting to believe they can play solid defence, as well.
Chris Bosh had 25 points and 16 rebounds as the Raptors won their season-best fourth game in a row, 102-95 over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon.
Toronto broke out to an early lead, and didn’t crumble when the Pistons made a game of it in the second half.
“I think we are playing with a little more confidence now,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. “We are getting more guys involved and we are starting to help each other and understand our defensive roles a lot better. As a result, we get stops, which lead to run-outs, which leads to confidence and then everything starts rolling.”
Toronto (15-17) improved to 8-6 for the month, assuring itself its best December showing since 2003.
The Pistons (11-19) dropped their seventh in a row before a sellout crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors defeated the Pistons 94-64 last Wednesday in Detroit but expected to face a more difficult task on Sunday with the return of stars Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon.
Hamilton and Gordon led the Pistons with 15 points each as the Raptors saw a 19-point halftime lead shrink to one with 5:47 to play on Prince’s turnaround fade-away jump shot.
“We knew they were going to come back,” Triano said. “We settled for jump shots, which we have a habit of doing. When we do that and miss them they lead to longer rebounds, which lead to run-outs and sometimes mismatches at the other end. We know they have some talent and they started making shots.”
Andrea Bargnani gave the Raptors some much-needed breathing room, scoring five straight points on a three-foot hook shot, a free throw and a 19-foot jumper. The Pistons were never closer than three points the rest of the way.
“We did show some composure but I thought we let up a little bit too,” point guard Jarrett Jack said. “We got off to an early lead because we were doing all the little things, rebounding, boxing out, taking good shots and taking care of the basketball.
“All those things I mentioned went away in the third quarter. Those things we definitely have to correct if we want to be a good ball club.”
Jack made four free throws down the stretch to preserve the win, and finished with 17 points and five assists.
“We kept our cool,” Jack said. “We’ve got a rhythm right now. Everybody is in sync with one another. Wins in the NBA aren’t easy to come buy. We just happen to have four in a row. We just have to keep that rhythm going.”