for this game

Hamilton, Pistons win 11th straight

Jan 5, 2008 - 4:29 AM By Brian Herman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons continued to fire on all cylinders as they defeated the Toronto Raptors, 101-85, at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

Hamilton scored 22 points and Rasheed Wallace added 20 for the Pistons, who came into the game as the hottest team in the NBA and continued their solid play en route to their 11th straight win.

"It feels really good," Hamilton said. "The guys are taking their time and sharing the ball, playing as a team, playing as a unit and good things are happening for us."

Detroit now will face the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in a matchup of two of the Eastern Conference's top clubs.

"It's just another game that we want to come out and win," Hamilton said. "It should be another good game, hopefully we can give our fans something to cheer about."

The Pistons came into the game with 21-1 record when leading after three periods and continued their trend opening the fourth quarter with six straight points, capped by a steal and fast-break layup by rookie Rodney Stuckey at 10:31 to give the Pistons 75-64 lead.

Two jumpers by Hamilton and a jumper by Stuckey at 7:57 restored the Pistons biggest lead to that point at 83-70. Wallace then nailed two 3-pointers as Detroit closed the game on a 12-4 spurt and took its largest advantage at the final horn.

"We played well," Hamilton said. "The guys on the team did a great job of executing down the stretch, and that's what we do."

However, it was a close game throughout.

It was a tightly played first quarter with the Pistons leading, 22-19, at the end of the period. Chauncey Billups paced the Pistons with seven points in the quarter en route to a team-high 12 at the half.

"They made us play, they never gave up," Billups said. "They had a lot of guys playing well and it wasn't like we were up 20 going into the fourth, so we had to play hard but it wasn't a struggle, it was a good mix."

Jarvis Hayes keyed a 10-0 run for the Pistons near the end of the second quarter with a 3-pointer at 3:32.

The Raptors, playing their first home game since returning from a seven-game Western road trip, struggled in the first half - shooting 37 percent from the field.

Andrea Bargnani displayed both his inside game with two powerful running dunks and his 3-point range to keep the Raptors in the game as they trailed 48-39 at the half.

"I'm starting to feel good again," Bargnani said. "We played a decent game, but they played much better in the key moments."

Wallace's shot from the arc at 9:23 of the third quarter stretched the Pistons' lead to 55-42, but the Raptors answered back with an 18-7 run started by a reverse dunk by Chris Bosh at 8:18.

Another 3-pointer by Bargnani and a jumper by Jose Calderon to cut Toronto 's deficit to 62-60 with 1:54 left in the quarter.

Free throws by Hamilton and another 3-pointer by Wallace with 38 ticks left helped give the Pistons a 69-64 lead going into the final period.

"Our experience is key, that's why we've been so good for so long," Chauncey Billups said. "We've seen it all and we are able to draw on that experience in those situations."

Bosh had a strong game at both ends of the floor, recording his team-leading 16th double-double of the season as he finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds for the Raptors.

"They (Pistons) are at a different level, they are one of the elite teams in the East," Bosh said. "We're almost there but we have a long way to go so playing these teams is good for us.

"At the end, they just overpowered us and, if we want to get where we want to go, we have to take note of what they do and be a little bit tougher and stronger."

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