Skip to main content

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka grabs a rebound over Detroit Pistons guard Langston Galloway and forward Tobias Harris during the first half in Toronto, on Jan. 17, 2018.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

The Toronto Raptors snapped a two-game losing streak with a narrow 96-91 win over the Detroit Pistons on a busy night at Air Canada Centre.

Led by 21 points from C.J. Miles – including five three-pointers – the Raptors held off a hard-charging Eastern Conference foe plotting its course to a playoff spot.

Kyle Lowry had 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while DeMar DeRozan had 17, and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 16 rebounds while fending off Detroit centre Andre Drummond, who put up 25 points and 17 boards. Detroit has lost three in a row and four of its past five games.

The Pistons were clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors were fresh off a frustrating loss to Philadelphia on Monday and had lost three of their past four.

The Raptors had come out sluggish against both Philly and Golden State in recent days, but they began with great energy on Wednesday.

As part of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity, the Raptors were hosting You Can Play night. In doing so, they became the first NBA team to partner with the You Can Play Project and hold a night to advocate for equal treatment and opportunities in sport for LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans.

Rainbow flags were integrated into the pre-game national-anthem ceremonies, there were You Can Play toques, and a few in-game mentions on the video board. Partial proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the You Can Play Project, the social-activism group formed in 2012 to eradicate homophobia in sports.

"These things are so important for our community, advocating whatever our organization stands for, whether it's teammates, togetherness, tolerance, respect, equality – I think they're so important for us, including the LGBTQ community," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said before the game.

"Having this being the first You Can Play NBA game, it's huge for us."

Those efforts, however, were slightly upstaged on an overscheduled night at the ACC. Much media attention was focused instead on the pregame news conference held by Drake and Ujiri, who announced the team's donations – in partnership with the rapper – to Basketball Canada and the refurbishing of local basketball courts in Toronto communities.

Meanwhile, on the court, the Raptors built a 31-18 first-quarter lead behind a 10-point quarter for DeRozan, while a dominant Valanciunas nabbed seven rebounds and more than handled Drummond. Miles was taking – and making – threes.

However, Kyle Lowry, in just his second game back following a three-game absence because of a back injury, missed his first six shots of the night.

Toronto didn't hold that sizeable lead for long.

The Raptors took turns deploying Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira to juggle the defence of Detroit's 7-foot-3 reserve centre Boban Marjanovic in the paint, but the Serbian big man had seven points in a short time. When Drummond returned to the floor, his shooting and rebounding numbers both spiked, and Langston Galloway got hot from three. The Raptors were committing way too many turnovers.

The Pistons closed the half on a 14-5 run, and trailed Toronto by 54-51.

Lowry, who was 1-of-7 in the first half, had to rely on points from the free-throw line and began to change his luck.

A few key buckets fell for him.

Still, with Drummond leading the way for Detroit, the game was tied 73-73 going into the final quarter.

Miles, Lowry and DeRozan provided some key points in the fourth to keep Toronto just slightly in control. Detroit came within three in the final five seconds, but the Raptors snuffed out the Pistons' final chances – unlike they had against Miami last week.

Detroit (22-21) shot 30 per cent (6 of 20) from the field and was outrebounded 17-10 as the Raptors made 11-of-26 shots (42.3 per cent)

The Raptors (30-13) still second in the Eastern Conference, turn their attention to a visit from the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

It will be the first of six Drake-themed "Welcome Toronto" nights at Air Canada Centre this season.

Drake and the Toronto Raptors say they are donating $2-million to Canada Basketball and $1-million to refurbish local basketball courts. Team president Masai Ujiri says he gets some amusing texts from the hip-hop star.

The Canadian Press

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe