Detroit has an ‘answer’ for Toronto

By Tonya Raymond
Updated: November 8, 2008

Toronto Raptors TORONTO — It was like waiting to see if you had the winning lottery ticket as the Toronto Raptors and The Detroit Pistons were anticipating if newly acquired Piston, Allen Iverson would be making his debut.

Iverson was forced to jumped ship once more in a blockbuster deal that sent Mr. “Practice” man himself back over to the Eastern Conference.

In return the Pistons sent Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb over to Denver.

Unfortunately for Detroit, Billups was unable to pass his physical in time before the game and caused A.I. to miss his first game as a Piston against Toronto.

But with no Billups, McDyess and no A.I. in the picture, you would think the Raptors could push their winning streak to 4-0 right?


The Raptors were unable to capitalize on a short handed Detroit team and in the end they came up short with a 100-93 loss.

Now I don’t know if Allen Iverson had the Raps memorized, but they were clearly still in Raptor-land and did not come to play ball in the Air Canada Centre.

In the opening minutes both teams looked a little out of sync.

But it was the Pistons that started to make some big moves on the Raptors. An impressive 14-point performance came from Pistons point-guard Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey was able to wheel-and-deal around the Raptors big men and blew past a miss-matched Calderon early in the game.

And like always the “Big Three” played solid for Detroit as Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace combined for a total of 60 points.

There was no doubt that the Pistons looked good and things could get interesting with Iverson in the mix but let’s change gears for a second and look at how the Raptors let this one slip by.

First things first, Toronto’s lack of defensive presence was down right scary. The Pistons’ main men, including Prince looked like royalty as they stuffed their way on the scoreboard.

It is no secret defense has been a huge problem with Toronto and can be traced far back to when Vincanity was still apart of the team.. Oh the good old days…

But when defense isn’t there you have no choice but to go to your second and only option, offencs.

“Well if those guys are scoring you got to make it up some where,” said Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell. “Jose made up some points, [and] CB [but] after Jose and CB nobody really in the first quarter stepped in and scored for us.”

Getting it going offensively was another problem for Jermaine O’Neal and the Raptors. Within moments of the opening quarter it was clear that O’Neal just could not buy a break.

Frustrated with his performance O’Neal missed a lot of makeable shots and was awarded a technical foul in the first half. “I’m still having a hard time getting comfortable in the offense” said a struggling O’Neal.

“I haven’t been really able to find a rhythm at all- outside of the first game and in spurts. It’s a process.. I knew it was going to be a little difficult.” And difficult it was as O’Neal finished with only eight points in 29 minutes.

“We’ve been able to win games with out me scoring but on a night like tonight when the team needed some baskets early in the game I was unable to deliver. [I'm] a little upset about it because this is a game where the team needed me to score,” said O’Neal

Chris Bosh, who gave the Raptors some hope with 26 points, understands O’Neil’s frustrations but knows this is something he can overcome. “To me he’s an all-star player”, Bosh added.

“We need to feed him the ball no matter what’s happening. If he missies five shots in a row he has to make one. We just have to stay behind him. I’m happy he’s here we just have to continue to support each other.”

Speaking of support, The Raptors need a little more of that as their support cast went to sleep. Toronto has got to get constant performances from bench players Bargnani, Kapono and Graham.

Well, It seems that The Raptors are still the same old Raptors in terms of the problems that they have yet to solve.

We know in time Jermaine O’Neal will get out of his slump pretty soon but with a healthy Bosh and O’Neal in the line up will that be enough to get this club to the next level?

Only time will tell.

NOTE: Friday night, Toronto fell to 3-2 as they lost on the road to Atlanta (4-0) 110-92. Chris Bosh led Toronto with 26 points. Jose Calderon, the Raptors’ second-leading scorer, had only six points on 2-of-10 shooting, but finished with 12 assists.