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Raptors takes Pistons’ best shot, still win

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Toronto Raptors took a couple of hard falls but stood their ground against the reeling Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Shooting guard Landry Fields required eight stitches to the back of his head after tumbling head-over-heels midway through the third quarter. Forward James Johnson then got knocked to the floor in the fourth quarter by Pistons center Andre Drummond, who was assessed a flagrant foul.

The Eastern Conference-leading Raptors proved to be the tougher team, winning their fifth straight with a 110-100 thumping of the Pistons at The Palace.

The altercation started by Drummond, who was frustrated by Johnson’s power dunk on the previous Raptors possession, resulted in four technicals but no ejections. Toronto forwards Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson received technicals while standing up for Johnson.

“I love it,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Drummond did what he was supposed to when somebody’s about ready to dunk on you. And James and Chuck and Pat did what they’re supposed to do, stand up for a teammate. No harm. I’ve seen far worse than that in the old days. The officials really handled it well and got it under control.”

Johnson, who was one of six Raptors in double figures with 12 points, also left the court without any ill will.

“I made a Euro move and ran into his shoulder. That’s basketball. We’re competitors,” he said. “I don’t expect anything less from anybody if you really want to win, and everybody wants to win out there. Frustration sets in a little bit but other than that, no hard feelings.”

A majority of the 16,274 in attendance also had Johnson’s back, as a large contingent of Raptors fans crossed the border to cheer them. It felt like a home game for Toronto, which never led in the first half but took control by outscoring Detroit (5-22) 29-18 in the third quarter.

“Our fans were unbelievable,” Casey said. “That got us going. We got our plays going and we got our energy going. Our fans took over and gave us a huge boost of energy to close it out, starting in the third quarter.”

Center Jonas Valanciunas led the balanced attack with 17 points and seven rebounds and scored 11 of his points in the pivotal third quarter. Point guard Kyle Lowry supplied 15 points and seven assists and point guard Lou Williams added 15 points off the bench.

Fields, who fell while contesting a shot by Pistons forward Kyle Singler, passed concussion protocols. He had a headband wrapped around the bandage over the back right of his head afterward.

“That scared me, especially when I saw the blood gushing out, but he’s fine,” Casey said.

Point guard Brandon Jennings had 22 points and eight assists to lead the Pistons (5-22), who have lost a single-season, franchise-record 12 straight home games. Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 18 points and power forward Greg Monroe contributed 17 points and seven rebounds for Detroit.

“We didn’t match their intensity on defense and we didn’t get any stops in the end,” Pistons guard D.J. Augustin said. “They have some shooters, some good guards that find people and they have really good big men.”

The Raptors, trailed by as much as 11 in the second quarter, shot 53.7 percent after halftime. They took a double-digit lead midway through the third quarter and Detroit never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

“The overall story of the game was not hard to explain,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We had absolutely no defensive will or resolve whatsoever. Sixty points in the paint means you’re not doing anything defensively.”

NOTES: Toronto SG DeMar DeRozan missed his 11th consecutive game with a torn left adductor longus tendon, but the club won seven of its first 10 games without him. “DeRozan is a great player, but their guards have played so well, not only (Kyle) Lowry but Lou Williams, Terrence Ross, (Greivis) Vasquez — those guys have driven it,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. … PF Amir Johnson appeared in his 400th game as a Raptor, becoming the seventh player in franchise history to reach that milestone. “He’s Mr. Consistency,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s what he represents for us.” … Detroit’s last home victory was 98-95 over Milwaukee on Nov. 7. … The Raptors were 13-1 against teams below .500 and 12-0 when holding opponents below 100 points. … Detroit C Andre Drummond has an Eastern Conference-best 82 games with 10 or more rebounds since last season. … Toronto swept last season’s three-game series.a

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