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Jennings scores 34 as Pistons edge Raptors

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TORONTO — Point guard Brandon Jennings took things upon himself after the Detroit Pistons fell behind the Toronto Raptors by as many 14 points in the first half Monday.

“Just because of the sluggish start,” he said. “We were definitely struggling, I think we were down 60-48 (at the half). I just wanted to come out aggressive in the third quarter and just see where it takes us.”

It took the Pistons to a 114-111 victory. Jennings produced 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter, when Detroit outscored Toronto 34-23.

“We got real technical,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of his halftime talk to the team. “We said we have to try and we have to play really hard. We wrote the stuff on the board. They had 40 points in the paint (before the break). … They were getting everything going.”

With guard Jodie Meeks, who scored 13 points, hitting a decisive 3-pointer in the final minute of the game, the Pistons (14-24) won for the ninth time in 10 games.

“The shot clock was winding down, and we knew we had to get a shot up,” Meeks said.

“It was the backbreaker,” said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter and also had 12 assists. “Everyone commits to the ball, they got it out and he made a tough shot.”

The Raptors (25-12) lost for the fifth time in six games despite getting a career-best 31 points from center Jonas Valanciunas, who also pulled down 12 rebounds.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “For whatever reason, we had the break going, we had our pace going, but we were forcing a lot of passes.”

The Raptors made 19 turnovers in the game while the Pistons made only eight.

“When you commit that many turnovers against a good team like that, you shoot yourself in the foot,” Casey said. “And that’s what we did tonight. It’s all on us.”

Forward Greg Monroe added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who also got 10 points and 14 rebounds from center Andre Drummond and 10 points from forward Jonas Jerebko.

Guard Greivis Vasquez had 16 points off the bench and reserve guard Lou Williams scored 15 for the Raptors. Guard Terrence Ross and forward Amir Johnson chipped in with 12 each, and forward James Johnson had 11. Amir Johnson added 10 rebounds.

“It was definitely us tonight,” Lowry said. “We turned the ball over way too much and gave them second-chance points. They got to the free-throw line a lot tonight.”

Valanciunas scored 14 points and nabbed six rebounds to lead the Raptors to a 32-20 lead after the first quarter.

The Raptors were on top 60-48 at the half, with Valanciunas scoring 22 points.

Drummond’s tip shot with 7:42 to play in the third quarter drew the Pistons within three points. After the Raptors scored, Monroe was fouled in the process of sinking a layup, and Ross was called for a technical foul. Jennings made the technical foul shot and Monroe made his free throw to cut the lead to one.

After the Raptors went up by three points, Jennings hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 70. Williams put Toronto into an 83-82 lead after three quarters with a running back shot, but he missed the free throw.

Vasquez gave Toronto a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. The Pistons tied it on a running layup by Meeks with 8:04 to play.

Toronto regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Lowry. It was 100-100 when Meeks made two free throws with 4:28 to play.

Lowry scored the next four points. Jennings made two free throws and hit a 3-pointer to put Detroit ahead 105-104 before Valanciunas put Toronto ahead by one.

Jerebko scored the next five points to give the Pistons a three-point lead with 1:29 to play.

Amir Johnson cut the margin to one before Meeks hit a 3-pointer with 53.9 seconds to play, and the Pistons led 112-108.

Lowry hit a 3-pointer and the lead was one. After a miss by the Pistons, Toronto had possession with 14.8 seconds to play. After a timeout, Lowry missed his driving jumper. Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit two free throws with 6.6 seconds to play to clinch the win.

“Brandon (Jennings) was unbelievable,” Van Gundy said. “He just put us on his back and carried us.”

NOTES: Pistons F Greg Monroe recorded his seventh consecutive double-double. … Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he could have a better indication this week about when G DeMar DeRozan (torn groin muscle) will be ready to play. DeRozan missed his 21st straight game. … The Pistons entered Monday’s game having won eight of nine games for the first time since Dec. 23, 2008, to Jan. 9, 2009. … F James Johnson had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday to earn his second straight start Monday, his seventh start of the season. … The Pistons will play host to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. … The Raptors will play the fourth game of their six-game homestand Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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