"We still in progress of learning … of playing 48 minutes," he said. "We started the game good but we've been having the problem … especially in the third quarter.
"When we figure that out, I think we're going to be really good and you're going to see more 4-0 (streaks) or five or six or even more."
For now, though, the Raptors just want to continue the success they've had. They are not among the Eastern Conference elite by any stretch of the imagination but they have moved to fifth in the conference, are 6-3 in their last nine games and there is a large dose of confidence in the locker room.
The new guy, Matt Devlin, was basically the anti-Chuck and at times seemed reluctant to inject anything resembling excitement into a game. Even Swirsky-haters secretly longed for a “kaboom" or two to warm up those many cold nights in Raptorland.
Devlin will never be mistaken for Swirsky, but there's no denying that the level of his game and the level of the broadcasts have both improved this year. Devlin seems a little more animated and appears to be having more fun.
Last week, when New Orleans' Peja Stojakovic hit a three-pointer, Devlin shouted, “Punjabi" as a tribute to CBC's Punjabi-language Raptor broadcasts.
"We're starting to realize how good we can be," said Turkoglu, who had six assists including a key helper when he found a cutting Weems for a dunk to put Toronto up seven with 49 seconds to play. "We're still progressing and need to learn about playing 48 minutes … when we figure that out too I think we're going to be really good and you'll see more [streaks] like this, 4-0 and 5-0 and even more."
The Pistons in Toronto yesterday weren't the same sorry crew the Raptors blew out in Michigan before Christmas. With the return of Tayshaun Prince (back), Richard Hamilton (hamstring) and Ben Gordon (ankle) they were at full strength for the first time since early in the season, a reminder that the Raptors haven't been the only team not to have everything break their way this season.
Tempers flare: The Pistons had a running dialogue with the officiating crew of Bob Delaney, Bennie Adams and Derek Richardson. Hamilton and Gordon got technicals for their talk and Pistons coach John Kuester almost earned one when Jonas Jerebko fouled out with 4:44 remaining.
Quotable: "Sometimes when you haven't been out there so long everybody seems so fast," Hamilton said on the difficulty of being able to defend at an NBA level after missing time.
As a result of 65 personal fouls — 33 for Detroit and 32 for Toronto — yesterday's game lasted two hours and 49 minutes, the longest non-overtime game in franchise history. The previous long was the club's first-ever home opener, which was on Nov.3, 1995 against the New Jersey Nets. That contest lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
The Raptors went to the free throw line 44 times, converting 32, while the Pistons went to the line 33 times, and missed 10, with centre Ben Wallace going 2-for-8.
Chris Bosh led the free throw parade for Toronto, going 9-for-14.
Marco Belinelli came off the bench and scored nine points in less than 20 minutes, six of those points as a result of free throws, though he was forced from the game in the fourth quarter after picking up his sixth personal foul. It was his second straight strong game, and he has shot 5-for-11 in those two outings.
"We knew they were going to come back," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "We settled for jump shots, which we have a habit of doing. We know they have some talent and they started making shots."
Detroit actually climbed to within two late in the third. But thanks to some big efforts late in the fourth quarter by big men Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh, the Raptors managed to hold on for the win and keep the win streak alive. Bosh picked up his NBA-leading 23rd double-double of the season, with 25 points and 16 rebounds, going to the free throw line 14 times, converting nine. He also picked up four points and three rebounds in the final two minutes to seal the deal.
Help from Unlikely Sources
The Young Guns didn’t get ‘er done today. Yes, they are very exciting to watch most nights but tonight they looked young and inexpereinced especially on the defensive end. Sonny Weems did have some moments near the end of the game but the Raps had to look elsewhere for energy and support off the bench. Enter Antoine Wright and Marco Belinelli. Marco had a great first half, shot the ball well and was very active on the defensive end. He even got into a bit of a bettle with Rip Hamilton. Wright came in during the second half and helped bail the club out. He played stellar defense and made some great passes to help the team take the W.
"It was just matter of us being a lot more aggressive," Prince said. "The first half, it was tough for the coaches when you have three guys back and you don't want to play them normal minutes and you have to figure out what's best for the rotation. It was tough on (Kuester) early on."
The Pistons erased much of the 19-point halftime deficit, outscoring the Raptors, 28-14, in the third quarter.
The Pistons came within one point in the fourth quarter, 85-84, on a Prince 3-pointer. But Bargnani responded with a 3 for the Raptors.
"We have to just get back in the flow," Gordon said. "We had our chances tonight. With all the injuries, and guys coming back, we still had a chance to win the game in the second half."
As for the Raptors … another strong effort Sunday against the Pistons. They could have kept the pressure on a bit more and not allowed the Pistons to make a game out of it, but overall, a good performance.
I and many others wrote before this streak started that this was the time for the Raptors to get rolling and they have certainly done that.
They were humiliated against Charlotte last month, so running their win streak to five by defeating the Hornets is definitely within the realm of possibility, since they will have something to prove.
Aside from a complete breakdown in team chemistry, a regression because of Martin's presence or a trade offer involving an All-Star caliber player (specifically, a big man), Martin is going nowhere. According to sources, Cleveland, Houston and Toronto are among those teams interested in acquiring the dynamic scorer and are keeping an eye on how the situation unfolds.
Jonas Jerebko’s second-half turnaround was the biggest reason for Detroit cutting a 19-point halftime deficit to one. After shooting just 1-for-5 in the first half, he made all five of his shots in the second half. The big takeaway is Jerebko can play power forward with the rerturners on the floor. He had started at small forward with Prince out, but he played power forward in the preseason. This is especially relevant as Charlie Villanueva battles plantar fasciitis.
Losing aside, it was nice to get Ben, Rip and Tayshaun back. Because of the suspensions to Daye and Jerebko on opening night, this was actually the first game all season long at full strength. Pistons started this one strong in the first few minutes of the game, but Toronto slowly pulled away leading by as much as 20. Fantastic third quarter where the Pistons outscored the Raps 28-13 to give them a chance in the second half.
Positives: Defense, offense, and toughness. The Raptors are finally looking like they want to win, and even with injuries to Reggie Evans and Jose Calderon, the team is playing well. Sonny Weems has emerged as a solid role player and Hedo Turkoglu is starting to show some grit.
Negatives: Rebounding is the main one. Bosh and Bargnani have to show some toughness inside and show some presence. This isn't really a negative, but the winning streak hasn't exactly been against contenders, and at least they are taking advantage of the schedule.
Being a sub-.500 team themselves, things don't often go easily for the Raps, and they made this one tougher than it could have been, allowing Detroit to close a 19-point deficit at halftime to just one with under six minutes to go. Didn't seem to worry Bosh who, asked if he thought at any point in the second half his club was going to blow this one, said simply "No." "Teams are going to go on runs," he told CBC Sports. "They made a run, you can't panic, if you do you will lose the game."
“I think we're playing with a little more confidence,” said Raptors head coach Jay Triano. “We're getting more guys involved; we're starting to help each other and understand our defensive roles a lot better and as a result we get more stops, we get run-outs and that gives us confidence and everything starts rolling.” The Raptors play host to the Charlotte Bobcats
THE FAN presents highlights (1) and the game recap (2) of the Raptors' 102-95 win over the Detroit Pistons, courtesy Paul Jones & Eric Smith.
It was first thought that Calderon would miss only a couple of games when he hurt his hip on Dec.5 in Chicago and, in fact, returned to the lineup on Dec.11 after missing two games.
But he was forced to leave that game as well against Atlanta and his return date still is a mystery, though he is expected to consult with team doctors tomorrow.
All of which means Jarrett Jack will continue to start at point guard, which certainly hasn't been a problem as the 14-17 Raptors are 5-4 with Jack starting.