After making a pair of lineup changes, the Toronto Raptors feel they could be getting back on track.

The Raptors look to move closer to gaining a playoff berth Friday night when they try to hand the visiting New York Knicks their eighth straight loss in Canada.

Toronto (36-35) entered Wednesday's game with Detroit having lost seven of eight, and coach Sam Mitchell decided to put T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic into the starting lineup in place of Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.

The moves seemed to pay off as the Raptors won 89-82 over a Pistons team which has the league's second-best record. Nesterovic scored 15 points and Ford added 13 and nine assists in their new roles.

"It was business as usual," said All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who had a team-high 21 points. "It was back to how we're used to playing."

Toronto is seventh in the Eastern Conference and appears to be headed to the playoffs, with a five-game lead on eighth-place Atlanta and a 5 1/2-game advantage over ninth-place New Jersey. The seventh spot likely means a first-round matchup with Central Division-leading Detroit, so the Raptors are looking to move up, trailing sixth-place Philadelphia by one-half game and fifth-place Washington by one.

Nesterovic has given Toronto a major boost by scoring in double figures in seven straight games. He's averaging 14.4 points on 58.3 percent shooting in that stretch, although the Raptors have won just twice in that span.

"Rasho has been big for us even though we haven't had the best of records in the league," Bosh said. "He has been a pretty bright spot at our center and he just does the things we need."

Although Calderon came off the bench Wednesday, he matched Ford with 13 points and both guards were on the court down the stretch for Toronto.

"It was like old times when those two came in and that is one of the strengths of our basketball team and we're hoping that becomes a strength again for our team because both are different in how they play," Mitchell said.

Toronto hasn't lost at home to New York since March 19, 2004, and has won two of three overall meetings this season. Bosh is averaging 26.7 points against the Knicks this season.

New York (20-51) ended its seven-game home losing streak with a 103-96 overtime win over Miami on Wednesday. The Knicks, who have been accused in the local papers of "tanking" down the stretch, also snapped a five-game overall skid.

"We definitely haven't given up by any means," said Knicks forward David Lee, who had 15 points and 16 boards. "I don't think there's any lack of effort or any giving up on our part effort-wise and I think we're playing for pride at this point. That's about it. But I think we're doing a pretty good job of executing that."

Zach Randolph, who curiously was inactive for weekend losses to Memphis and Minnesota, added 16 points and 14 rebounds in his second straight start.

"It's tough when you're trying to balance developing young players at the expense of sometimes giving veteran guys minutes who've been around for a long time," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "Particularly at the end of the season when the games, you don't have a chance to make the playoffs but yet the guys are still able to maintain their focus."


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