Eventually, Toronto’s inability to go for the jugular will come back to haunt the team. Eventually, a game of much more substance and meaning will be played and any mental lapse cannot be tolerated. Until then, the Raptors can win games such as Wednesday’s visit by the listless Pistons, a team that showed the scars of a back-to-back. But with playoff positioning about to take on added meaning, the Raptors have to find a way to close out an opponent and take away its will. Leads have to be extended, moments seized and a killer instinct developed. John Salmons put away this game with a three-ball, giving Toronto a 96-79 lead with two minutes left. The game should have been determined much earlier, but a win is a win and Toronto did continue its dominance at home, giving the fickle Air Canada Centre fans a free slice of pizza following a 101-87 win. “We had a tough loss in Brooklyn,’’ began Amir Johnson, who was efficient in finishing around the rim against the Pistons. “But we had a day off and we knew Detroit had a back-to-back, so we definitely wanted to emphasize our energy. “We went over our scouting report and our keys were to box out and push the tempo.” When the final period began, the Raptors had veteran Chuck Hayes, a veteran presence who knows how to use his body and low centre of gravity when defending the post and when setting screens, playing alongside Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors also had two point guards on the floor. By attacking the rim, they drew contact and the Pistons had four personal fouls barely four minutes into the fourth period. “It was definitely big,’’ said DeMar DeRozan of Toronto’s push to begin the final quarter. “We just all came together and told ourselves that was their run. They (Pistons) made the push (to end the third) and now it’s our turn to turn it up on both ends and put the game away.” Valanciunas picked up his fifth foul with 6:32 left when Andre Drummond used a quick spin move in the post, nearly finishing off the sequence with a basket and trip to the line. The atmosphere inside the ACC, meanwhile, was as dull as the on-court product, the fans disengaged, the players, for the most part, disinterested. At least the Pistons had a built-in excuse, forced to play a night earlier at home where their defensive effort was critical in a win over the Sacramento Kings. But somewhere between suburban Detroit and Toronto, the Pistons somehow lost their ability to defend because there was little in the way of stops in the opening quarter.
Raptors eventually put away listless Pistons
Toronto Sun | Mar 13