02-22-2012, 02:10 PM
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STAR: Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors: Wednesday game preview
SUN: Severe growing pains for Raptors
AIR CANADA CENTRE
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
RADIO: FAN 590
WEB: Join Doug Smith for an in-game blog beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at thestar.com to offer your comments and questions.
Detroit: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshawn Prince, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Stuckey vs. DeRozan
Pistons shooting guard averages about 15 points a game — 25 a game in the four before Tuesday night’s 16-point effort. DeRozan has been scoring effectively but will have to pick up his defence.
NEED TO KNOW
Detroit will be playing its third game in four nights after losing 101-100 in Cleveland on Tuesday. Pistons had won a season-best three straight before that one. … Ex-Raptor Charlie Villanueva is out with a sore ankle … Raptors expect to have Jerryd Bayless back. The availability of Linas Kleiza won’t be known until game time. … First game since Friday for the Raptors, their longest stretch of inactivity so far this season. … First of three meetings this season.
Next Tuesday at Houston, 8 p.m.
NP: DeMar DeRozan is fine with skipping NBA all-star weekend
When asked what has surprised him so far, Casey was matter-of-fact in his response on Tuesday afternoon.
“The difference in productivity each night is huge. Getting that consistency going from all our players has been our biggest challenge,” Casey said.
“I expected it. Am I disappointed when it happens, yes, but it’s something I expected from a young team.”
Casey said he saw elements of a “Jekyll and Hyde” squad as far back as training camp.” (We’re) still trying to push to that level of consistency that we’ve got to have to be a playoff team,” he said of where he wants the Raptors to go from here.
Improving in the “Red Zone” — the final two minutes or so of contests will be a particular focus.
Casey is impressed at how quickly the team has picked up his defensive schemes — particularly various zone looks — and believes with more practice sessions, even more variations could have been implemented Those will now have to wait until training camp in the fall.
“I’m not even going to lie: Yeah, I’m glad I get to go home, see my family, spend time with them for a couple days,” DeRozan said. “Mentally, it will definitely be good for me to see my family and come back strong.”
Indiana’s Paul George, Houston’s Chase Budinger, Minnesota’s Derrick Williams and New York’s Iman Shumpert are taking part.
“I talked to Paul George. He told me a couple of things that he’s got,” DeRozan said, declining to predict a winner. “Iman Shumpert’s got Jeremy Lin, so he might just win because he’s in it.”
Indeed, DeRozan will be going home to California. Amir Johnson also said he was planning to take his mind off of basketball for a few days, keeping the option of booking a last-minute trip somewhere open. Jose Calderon is going to find some sun.
Even the coaches are looking forward to some time off. Coach Dwane Casey said he would have gone to Orlando if Andrea Bargnani made the all-star team.
“We’re definitely going to get away,” Casey said of the coaching staff. “We’re going to meet in Houston on Monday morning and get ready for Houston and New Orleans. I just think it’s great to get away.”
Bargnani is going to the all-star game after all. Well, kind of.
“He’s going down to do some commercials for Sprite for the NBA,” Casey said. “It will be a good experience and let him get a taste of that environment, to see the great players of the past. Hopefully that will rub off on him and get him excited to come back after the all-star break.”