Raptors get Darko calls

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell will not respond to catcalls and insults from hostile crowds.

But did he ever have to bite his tongue last night.

As the Raptors fell further behind the defending Eastern Conference champions at the loud and intimidating Palace of Auburn Hills, a group of well-lubricated fans near the visitors' bench began laying into the coach.

The most devastating jibe came from one courtside comedian who yelled: "Sam, you guys are so bad, the Pistons are going to put in Darko Milicic!"

COMMENTS HURT

Milicic, of course, is the seven-foot stiff the normally astute Detroit general manager Joe Dumars selected over such luminaries as Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the 2003 draft. In any event, the comment hurt.

So much for the Road Warrior Raptors.

Led by The Franchise -- Bosh -- the Raptors played the Pistons tough through a quarter and half. But Detroit, 23-3, then decided to play some if its vaunted defence and pulled away by 18 at the half, en route to a 113-106 victory -- their 11th win at home in 12 games. Bosh, in picking up his 14th double-double of the season, scored a career-high 37 points, with 11 boards, five assists and three blocked shots for the Raptors, who fell to 6-22 with a game tonight at the Air Canada Centre against the second-worst team in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks.

Bosh's previous high was 33.

"He shows up every night," Mitchell said of his 21-year-old power forward. "I know he gets tired some nights, but he has to just suck it up and continue to do the things that he has been doing.

"It's hard to ask any more of him, but we are," Mitchell added.

Bosh had a difficult time expressing enthusiasm for a career high after his team lost yet again.

"Watch SportsCentre or any highlight (show) and see if they mention (the 37 points), I'm sure they won't," he said. "As many points as you score, it's not as significant as it is if you win."

Despite the loss, the Raptors turned the ball over only three times, tying an NBA record Toronto set on Jan. 16, 2001 against the Houston Rockets.

Veteran guard Chauncey Billups had a huge game for the Pistons, picking up his own double-double with 21 points and 13 assists in front of a sellout crowd of 22,076. Rip Hamilton had 24 points for Detroit.

The Raptors bench played well, led by rookie forward Charlie Villanueva, who had 16 points. Point guard Jose Calderon added 10 and Jalen Rose had 13 with four rebounds and three assists.

The Raptors allowed Detroit to shoot 52% from the field. The Pistons also spread the ball around, picking up 32 assists, 10 more than Toronto, and converted on 11 from three-point range.


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