The Raptors came out all business on this night. Demar DeRozan leading that charge. He would have about as perfect a first quarter as you could going 4-4 from the field and 4-4 at the line to lead all scorers with 12 points in the opening stanza. He was also doing a better job on defense as well, something that was missing against the Bobcats. Raptors as a team were bringing it on the defensive side of ball holding the Pistons to just 36% shooting from the field. The Raptors were shooting a blazing 57.9%. Yet despite all of this it was just a 28-24 lead after one. Part of the reason for that was the Pistons getting on the offensive glass as they had 5 offensive boards 3 of which came from Jason Maxiell.
Raptor would keep things rolling on the right path in the second. They had some nice ball movement in this game with with 19 assists in the first half and 9 of those coming from Jose Calderon. Raptors had 19 bench points to go with those 19 assists as everyone that came off the bench to this point has points lead by Barbosa with 8. Raptors had the lead into double figures and looked dominate at times or like the only team not already on All-Star break. However the Pistons would show signs of life before the end of the half cutting the lead to 8 with a halftime score of 53-45. They had also slightly improved their shooting percentage to 40.5% while the Raptors were still hot at a 57.5% clip.
Raptors came out in the second half and picked up their effort on defense which had been pretty good to begin with. They would hold the Pistons to just 15 points in the 3rd. They had won every quarter in this game and had a 74-60 lead to show for their efforts. The fact they were the rested team and had many days to prepare for this one was showing through on the floor.
Raptors had done a fair job keeping Greg Monroe in check with 13 points and 8 rebounds for him through 3 quarters. He would have a strong final quarter scoring 17 points and having 6 rebounds. Still, the Raptors would find a way to hang on in this one. It was a real team effort in the end. Perhaps the best symbol of that team win was Aaron Gray, having 12 points and 12 rebounds. His efforts did not go unnoticed by the 17,125 that were in attendance. Late in the game the ACC rang out with MVP chants for Aaron Gray. It was a moment for sure and one that you likely never expected to see this season. The Raptors in the locker room after 103-93 win were in good spirits. While Gray was talking with the media post game James Johnson on the other side of the locker room was chanting MVP. Demar DeRozan later in talking with the media also approved of the fans showing Gray some love. DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring with 23 points and 7 rebounds.
Jose Calderon had just 5 points in this game but 15 assists of the Raptors 30 on the night. Casey had praised Jose pre-game and acknowledged the fact the phone has been ringing with many teams inquiring about Jose Calderon. That said Casey seems fine with Jose staying right where he is and after his performance last night likely nothing changes in that regard. Jerryd Bayless was back at full strength backing him up with 7 points and 4 assists off the bench in 20 minutes.
Ironically, the Raptors are right on pace with what I predicted here in the DNB as they sit 10-23 heading into the All-Star break with half of their 66 game sked in front of them. If they get a healthy Andrea Bargnani back after the All-Star break they should have no problem surpassing the modest 20-46 prediction we made at the start of the season. This was just the 4th win of the season without him as the Raptors are 4-16 minus the Primo pasta spokesman. You could make a case this team would have a decent chance at the playoffs had they had a healthy Bargnani for the full season. Even though the playoffs are still a mathematical possibility they are likely not a logical reality. The Raptor longest home stand of the season is in the books and they only manage to go 2-5 and 5-11 at home on the season. But you can feel confident that in the 2nd half the Raptors should improve on that home record and overall record if they can be healthy in the second half of the season and have the same Andrea Bargnani we saw in the 13 games he did play in during the first half of the season. That won't improve their draft stock but it will improve the individuals that will be part of this team moving forward.
Raptors also were in talks with Wilson Chandler, who is looking to return to the NBA after signing in China during the lockout. He is a restricted free agent of the Denver Nuggets. He paid a visit to Toronto to meet with the Raptors. But before people get carried away with excitement this very well could be a leverage move on the part of Chandler to get a longer term deal with his former team Denver. They would have 4.6 Million to bring him back if they so choose to do so. The Raptors could not go beyond that number with out making some sort of roster moves to do so. Chandler has till Match 1st to sign an offer sheet with another team. If not he could only re-sign with the Nuggets or sit out the rest of this season and be a RFA again in the upcoming off-season. Aside from the Nuggets and Raptors his agent says there are 3-5 other teams that his client is considering.