for this game

Bosh, Raptors hold off Pistons

Mar 27, 2008 - 6:02 AM By Brian Herman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) -- Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell's decision to change the lineup worked out well.

Chris Bosh scored 21 points to lead four others in double figures as the Raptors held off a late charge for an 89-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

With Toronto enduring its worst month of the season at 3-10 coming in, Mitchell inserted T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic into the rotation in favor of former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.

"Sometimes, you just need to change things up," said Calderon, who approached Mitchell with the suggestion after the team's latest loss to Denver on Sunday.

"It was a great win for us," Mitchell said. "I thought our defense was as good as it could have been and I thought our point guards played well."

Ford and Nesterovic responded with 28 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists combined as the Raptors (36-35) recorded just their fourth win in March to remain one-half game behind Philadelphia (37-35) for sixth place in the East.

"I thought Rasho played well," Mitchell said. "He is playing with confidence right now. He talks on defense and has really been helping us on the boards."

The Raptors began to take control at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter as Ford's jumper sparked an impressive 29-10 run that was capped by Bargnani's 3-pointer with 10:10 left in the fourth for a 68-51 lead.

Bosh and Ford led the way with 14 combined points during the run.

"We played a lot better," Bosh said. "Our poise on offense and defense was better. I think the change made T.J. more comfortable and playing the way he usually played at the beginning of the season, and it worked pretty well."

"It was like old times when those two came in, and that is one of the strengths of our basketball team, and we're hoping that becomes a strength again because both are different in how they play," Mitchell said.

Detroit made things interesting as Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups hit consecutive 3-pointers and rookie Rodney Stuckey added a layup to close the gap at 72-67.

But Toronto answered back with a pair of 3-pointers as well by Calderon and Ford to restore its advantage to 80-67 with four minutes to go.

"We knew they were going to make their run, good teams always do, but we were able to withstand it and come away with the win," Bosh said.

Billups had 24 points and Stuckey chipped in 16 and six boards off the bench as the Pistons will have to wait one more game to capture the Central Division crown.

"It's always disappointing to lose," said Billups, who handed out nine assists. "We're coming down the home stretch with 11 games left and we want to regain some consistency whoever we're playing out there."

However, the Cleveland Cavaliers' loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night guarantees Detroit at least a share of the division title.

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