Raptors Rule the Paint vs. Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 2 (Ticker) -- Michael Bradley
scored a career-high 16 points and Jerome Williams
grabbed 16 rebounds, leading the Toronto Raptors to a surprising 89-78 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons.
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After posting a 92-85 victory over the Raptors on Tuesday, the Pistons appeared poised to hand Toronto's Lenny Wilkens a record-setting loss in this one. Wilkens, the NBA's winningest coach, also is tied with Bill Fitch for the most losses (1,106).
Wilkens did not believe that his team played with any more of a sense of urgency with him closing in on the record
"I didn't have any sense of that and certainly didn't ask," Wilkens said. "I'm just going to make you guys (media) follow me
around one more game."
But behind a surprising effort from Bradley, who played well against NBA reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, the Raptors led virtually the entire way and by as many as 23 points as they stopped a seven-game road losing streak.
"We've had a few courageous victories this season and that was up there," Wilkens said. "We just played off our defense all
It marked just the 10th time in 59 games this season that Bradley, a 2001 first-round pick, scored in double figures. The
6-10 Bradley normally plays forward, but started at center on Wednesday.
"I played center all through college. Even if I don't weigh 300 pounds, I feel I could hold my own," Bradley said.
Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups each netted 16 points to lead the Pistons, who remained 1½ games ahead of New Jersey for the conference's top seed.
A former Piston, Williams converted a layup with 3:42 left in the first quarter to give the Raptors the lead for good, 19-17.
They held a 24-19 advantage after the opening 12 minutes.
Williams had just two rebounds in 22 minutes against his former team Tuesday. A night later, he was all over the floor as he
had 15 boards in the first half before disappearing after intermission.
Led by Williams, the Raptors held a commanding 50-31 rebounding advantage. They also garnered a 15-6 edge on the offensive
"That wasn't my best half ever but it was close," Williams said. "I only had two rebounds last night and really felt like
I had to redeem myself."
Morris Peterson, who starred collegiately at Michigan State, scored six points in a 14-6 surge to start the second quarter that he capped with a driving layup to open a 38-25 lead.
A hook shot by Clifford Robinson pulled the Pistons within 39-31 with 4:17 left in the half. But Vince Carter hit a jumper and Bradley scored from in close to trigger an 8-0 burst. Bradley went 7-of-11 from the field.
"It was a great night for us," Bradley said. "We were able to control the game from the start. To finish against the No. 1
team playing at home, is a great accomplishment."
Carter made two more jumpers and Williams a layup to cap the spurt, giving the Raptors a 49-31 cushion with 2:02 left in the
half. They settled for a 51-36 advantage at the break.
"I think the difference tonight was our intensity," Williams said. "We've had too many games where we have it in spurts but
tonight we played hard all game."
Carter finished with 18 points on 9-of-26 shooting and Peterson 13 for the Raptors, who shot 44 percent (36-of-81) and won
despite committing 19 turnovers.
A week ago, the Pistons overcame a 15-point second-half deficit here in an overtime victory over Atlanta. But there was no
rally in this one as they trailed by double digits throughout the second half.
"To play at a playoff level you can't have these types of lapses that we've had in the last week or so," Pistons coach Rick
Carisle said. "We've been living on the edge a little too much. These types of games don't happen to our team very often.
Usually we play with high intensity."
A jumper by Voshon Lenard, who scored 16 points, gave the Raptors their biggest lead at 74-51 with 62 seconds left in the third quarter.
Wallace finished with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, who shot 42 percent (32-of-77).