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Reserves carry Pistons past Raptors

Apr 13, 2008 - 8:55 PM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Even when they rest their starters, the Detroit Pistons still find a way to beat the Toronto Raptors.

Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell led a strong bench effort Sunday as the Detroit Pistons continued their success against the Raptors with a 91-84 victory.

Stuckey scored 18 points and Maxiell added 14 for Detroit, which received 48 points from its reserves in beating Toronto for the 10th straight time at home.

Seeing extended playing time with their starters on the bench in the fourth quarter, the Pistons gradually increased the 65-63 advantage they held after three periods.

Stuckey was a major a reason why Detroit was able to beat Toronto for a third time in four meetings overall this season. The rookie scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a running jumper with under seven minutes remaining that pushed the lead to 81-73.

"I am just attacking and hopefully I will continue to keep getting the calls that I am getting because I wasn't getting them at the beginning of the year," Stuckey said. "It's just all about being aggressive."

With his team already locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Pistons coach Flip Saunders again opted to give his starters plenty of rest. No Detroit starter played more than 25 minutes.

"The thing that we have to understand is what our ultimate goal is, where we want to be, not just from the standpoint of beating Toronto, but winning a championship," Saunders said. "What we don't want to do in the stretch, and we've harped on it, is not pick up bad habits, try to maintain our focus, try to be sharp, no matter how long you play - whether you play five, 10, 15, 20 or 30, that we play with that same focus every time we step on the floor."

The loss dropped the Raptors (40-40) into a seventh-place tie with Philadelphia (40-40) in the Eastern Conference and moved them closer to a first-round playoff matchup against the Pistons.

Chauncey Billups scored 14 points and Richard Hamilton added 12 among the Pistons' starters.

"They're (the bench) getting better every game," Billups said. "They're playing and not worrying about making mistakes. They're just being aggressive, all of them has been aggressive. If they made mistakes, so what, get back, play D, get the ball back. They've just been getting better fast."

Raptors star Chris Bosh praised the Pistons' bench.

"Most teams don't have a group like that coming off the bench," Bosh said. "Those five (28, 3, 25, 9, 54) could start for a lot of teams in this league. They're tough."

Both the starters and reserves continued the Pistons' suffocating defense as the Raptors shot just 43 percent (36-of-83) and were limited to 39 second-half points.

"They are just a good defensive team," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "They are aggressive, quick, athletic and they really do a good job of taking away a lot of the passing angles. The things that we were able to hurt them with in the first half they took away from us in the second half."

One of the few Raptors to find his touch was Bosh, who had 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Rasho Nesterovic added 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

Hamilton, in his second game back after missing eight contests with a sore hip, scored 10 points in the first half, helping the Pistons to a 50-45 lead at the break.

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    Apr 13 3:23 PM

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