Mowed down in Motown

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Chris Bosh wanted to play. He expected to play. But his back was too sore for him to play. And the Detroit Pistons had their way. With Bosh on the sidelines nursing his bruised lower back, the defending-champion Pistons backed over the Raptors 103-92 last night before a sellout crowd of 22,076 at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Bosh aggravated his already sore back when he landed on it grotesquely during a Raptors loss in Boston on Wednesday. However, Bosh practised with his teammates on Thursday and took part in the morning shootaround yesterday.

"They pretty much said: 'Don't mess with your back,' " said Bosh, whose back stiffened yesterday afternoon. "I've had my boring night and now it's back to business. I'll let it heal and I'll be back (tomorrow, when the Raptors play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers)."

Toronto trainers were working aggressively on Bosh until an hour before tipoff. But, ultimately, it was decided the last thing Bosh needed was to have the Pistons' Ben Wallace planting a forearm in his achy back for 2 1/2 hours.

"I would have taken some blows," said Bosh, who officially is listed as day-to-day and saw his string of 97 games played in a row snapped.

In Bosh's absence last night, Donyell Marshall got his first start of the season and had a team-leading 25 points and 12 rebounds.

"Now is the time when people are breaking down, but now is when I'm starting to get my big minutes," said Marshall.

"I'm doing the reversal right now (in terms of playing time) and I'm trying to make the best of it. We don't know how long Chris is going to be out, so in order for me to stay out there, I have to keep playing hard."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was asked about the possibility of keeping Marshall in the starting lineup in place of largely ineffective rookie Rafael Araujo.

"(Araujo) has to learn how to play," Mitchell said. "If I don't start him, it will be hard to get him minutes."

Jalen Rose had 24 points for the Raptors, while Rafer Alston tied a career-high with eight rebounds. Top scorer for the Pistons was Chauncey Billups with 23 points.

The plucky Raptors hung around -- it was a seven-point game with fewer than four minutes remaining -- but eventually dropped their record to 27-38.

The Raptors were outrebounded 55-40.

"We look out on the floor and we look like midgets," Mitchell said. "(The Pistons) have guys on their bench bigger than our guys.

"We're small. It's hard to win when you get outrebounded by 15."


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