The spirits of Raptors past haunted the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.
Ex-Raptors Charlie Villanueva and Tracy McGrady did a number on their former team to help lead the Detroit Pistons to a 115-93 win.
The pair combined for 35 points.
But it was McGrady, in particular, who really came to the fore, playing with a swagger despite the constant rain of boos from the stands.
In 24 minutes, McGrady scored 17 points and picked up seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
He also threw another former Raptor under the bus when it was suggested that most of the fans who boo him at the ACC really don’t know why they’re booing. He played the Raptors for three seasons from 1997-2000 before being sent to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade deal.
“They don’t. I’m telling you, they really don’t,” he said. “It’s not like I was like Chris Bosh in selling out the city — like the city was horrible or something ... making crazy comments about the city.
“(In 2000), it was Toronto or going back home to Orlando. That’s pretty much it. I love the city. Everytime I come back, I really enjoy my time here.”
McGrady said the booing spurs him on.
“Keep booing,” he said. “I love it.”
He was instrumental in the Pistons taking a stranglehold on the game.
The Raptors led 30-28 early in the second quarter before McGrady went on a tear, scoring 15 points in the quarter as the Pistons jumped to a 62-44 lead at the half.
Villanueva, who sat out the fourth quarter, scored 18 points with four rebounds.
NOT THIS TIME
The last time these two teams played, Dec.11 in Detroit, the Raptors came back from a 25-point deficit to win. Detroit coach John Kuester was determined that that was not going to happen a second time.
“(That game) was mentioned (at halftime),” he said, “There’s no question about it. We realized that we had continue with the same type of focus that we had at the beginning.”
STATUS QUO AT THE ACC
Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment have banned Oakville guy Joseph Robb from any Raptors, Leafs or TFC games, and have charged him with mischief after he threw waffles on the ice on Monday during the Leafs’ loss to the mighty Atlanta Thrashers.
Short of posting pictures of the guy all over the ACC, it’s hard to figure how they enforce that rather tight-a--ed edict.
Didn’t spot any posters of Robb with his mug at the ACC on Wednesday night. Maybe they plan to flood the ACC with undercover detectives.
“I’m just a normal Leafs fan and love them to death,” Robb said.
Yes, the man has issues. Apparently Robb was wearing a Darcy Tucker jersey when he was escorted out of the ACC. I guess none of the current Leafs “superstars” turn his crank.
And speaking of Tucks, Leafs fans will rejoice to hear that Dar Tucker of the New Mexico Thunderbirds was named NBA Development League performer of the week. Yes, Dar Tucker. If Raptors attendance gets any worse, the Raptors should sign him. I’m sure that would draw a few dopey Leafs fans to Raptors games.
HO HO HO
DeMar DeRozan wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year prior to the start of the game. He could go a long way to making that come true if he scores 19 points a quarter, like he did on Sunday against the L.A. Lakers. DeRozan had two highlight reel dunks in the first quarter against Detroit, but didn’t do a lot after that ... Boos came raining down late in the third quarter after the Pistons grabbed two offensive rebounds in one possession, leading to a Ben Wallace free throw — and a 83-63 Detroit lead — though Wallace’s first free attempt was an air ball.