After beating one of the best teams in the West without their leading scorer, the Detroit Pistons hope to have Richard Hamilton back in the lineup when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday in a possible preview of a first-round playoff series.

Detroit (50-20) played four of its last six games against teams in the tough Western Conference, but it is coming off a 110-105 overtime win at home over the Phoenix Suns on Monday following back-to-back road losses against Cleveland and Washington.

The Pistons, who have already clinched a playoff spot and are close to clinching the Central Division, are five games behind East-leading Boston with 12 games remaining. The Raptors are in seventh place in the East - one-half game behind Philadelphia - and could open the playoffs against the Pistons.

Although Detroit knows it will likely finish with the No. 2 seed, that doesn't mean it is just playing out the string. The Pistons felt Monday's game was big because they avoided their second three-game losing streak of the season.

"A lot of people have been saying that we don't have any big games left because we can't move up or down (in the division)," said Chauncey Billups, who had 32 points and six assists against the Suns. "I thought this was a big game because we have struggled the last two games mightily."

Billups scored Detroit's first six points in overtime and converted a three-point play with 1:01 remaining that gave the Pistons the lead for good. They have reached 50 victories for the seventh straight season.

Detroit won despite being without Hamilton, who was sidelined by a sore hip.

"He says he king of twisted it when he was guarding (Washington's) Caron Butler," coach Flip Saunders said. "I guess on the flight home ... it kind of stiffened up."

Hamilton, who is averaging 17.7 points, is listed as probable for Wednesday. He is averaging 30.5 points in two games against the Raptors (35-35) this season.

Toronto is trying to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since November. The slumping Raptors have dropped back-to-back games and seven of their last eight, including a 109-100 loss at home to Denver on Sunday.

The Raptors shot 50.0 percent from the field and had seven players score in double figures, led by 17 points apiece from Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon. They led by 17 points in the first quarter, but Denver rallied and used a late 8-0 run to put the game away.

"The thing that bothers me is at the end of games we're just too hesitant," Bosh said. "We hesitate too much and we think about it too much. I know it gets harder down the stretch but we should step our game up instead of taking steps back."

The Raptors have lost both games against Detroit this season by an average of 15 points, and have dropped 10 of the last 12 meetings.


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