Pistons will be looking for revenge on Raps

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 PM ET

TORONTO - Christmas is so close, the Raptors are already thinking about what will be under the tree and at the dinner table, but in order for it to be a happy holiday for the squad, a win must be attained against Detroit on Wednesday night.

It probably won’t be easy. NBA players have long memories to begin with. Add a humiliating loss less than two weeks ago that included blowing a 25-point lead at home to the mix and it is clear, if the Pistons have any heart at all, they will come out like men possessed at the ACC.

Former Piston Amir Johnson expects nothing less from a roster he remains extremely tight with.

“We know they’ll be after us, they were upset,” Johnson said.

“We’re going to be prepared though. I would hate to lose. They’re my friends but we’re all competing.”

The Pistons, particularly veterans Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace, were devastated after Toronto’s miraculous comeback at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The hard-to-figure Pistons then beat the solid Atlanta Hawks before getting crushed at home by the lowly Los Angeles Clippers.

Detroit rebounded by beating New Orleans in overtime on the weekend.

“Losing a game like (the Raptors comeback) hurts a lot so they’re going to come ready to play,” said Andrea Bargnani, echoing Johnson’s thoughts.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano also agreed that Detroit would be jacked for the rematch.

“If I was (in Pistons head coach John Kuester’s place) I would definitely bring that up,” Triano said. “When there are 82 games, you look for every incentive and every way to motivate possible.”

Detroit has changed up its lineup since then, shortening the rotation and giving more minutes to former UConn stars Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Though trade winds continue to swirl around Rip Hamilton and Prince, the team has enough veterans to play through distractions.

While defence is no longer a strong suit of the Pistons, Triano knows they can light it up.

“They’re a tough team to play,” he said. “Ben Gordon gets going and Charlie V can shoot the ball from the outside. You don’t know if (Rodney) Stuckey is playing — he didn’t play last game — but he’s capable of putting up numbers. If Rip plays, he’s capable of putting up numbers. And Tayshaun is so steady.”

The Raptors will also have to guard against looking past the Pistons to the Christmas break.

Many Raptors will head home or to see family since the team does not play again until Dec. 27 in Memphis.

Thoughts on Tuesday were already turning to seafood gumbo, macaroni and cheese, home-cooked meals and rare in-season time with family.

Johnson’s mother and grandmother are in town and he will enjoy the holidays with them and possibly teammates Julian Wright and Solomon Alabi.

DeMar DeRozan will head home to Compton, California and Linas Kleiza will meet up with family in New York City.

“I just want to see my family. I don’t care about nothing else,” DeRozan said.

“I just want to go home. That’s it. Stay in the house, laugh and joke with the family, try to enjoy every moment.”

No doubt a win on Wednesday would make the trip all the more enjoyable.


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