Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Tuesday, November 20th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 15th
Game 3: Monday, February 18th
Game 4: Friday, February 22nd

Raptors 76

(29-26, 13-16 away)

Pistons 89

(29-22, 17-8 home)

    7:30 PM ET, February 18, 2002

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    TOR 17 22 17 2076
    DET 23 27 22 1789

    Top Performers

    Tor: A. Davis 21 Pts, 14 Reb, 3 Ast

    Det: B. Wallace 13 Pts, 13 Reb, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

    Pistons send Vince-less Raptors to fifth straight loss

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Ben Wallace is a big reason why the Detroit Pistons are having such surprising success, and all his teammates know it.

    Jerry Stackhouse scored 20 points, and Wallace added 13 points and 13 rebounds to help the surging Pistons beat the injury-depleted Toronto Raptors 89-76 Monday night.

    "If Ben is scoring double figures like he has been lately, we're just going to get on his back and ride him," Stackhouse said. "Heck, if he keeps this up, we might even start calling some plays for him."

    Matched up against former teammate Eric Montross, Wallace had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half.

    "When Eric was here last year, I had a lot of success with a couple moves against him in practice," Wallace said. "So I went to those moves today and was able to hit some baskets."

    Still, Wallace's most important role is on the defensive end. He leads the NBA in blocks, and ranks third in rebounds and 19th in steals.

    "Ben is the guy who sets the tone for us," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's a monster on that end of the floor, so when he gets double figures in scoring, we're probably going to win the game."

    The Pistons (29-22) have won three straight and nine of 11 to reach seven games over .500 for the first time since they were 14-7 in December.

    Detroit moved into a tie with Milwaukee for first place in the Central Division and third in the Eastern Conference.

    "We're in a position to do more than just get the seventh or eight playoff spot," Cliff Robinson said. "We can start thinking about catching Milwaukee in the division or getting one of the top spots in the East."

    Toronto has lost five straight since Vince Carter went on the injured list with a quadriceps strain. He is eligible to return Wednesday night against Charlotte.

    The Raptors dressed only 11 players because Dell Curry was not with the team. Curry has missed five games with a calf strain, but Toronto already has the maximum three players -- Carter, Jerome Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon -- on the injured list.

    "We just have to play our way through this," coach Lenny Wilkens said. "When you have as many people out as we do, you just have to keep working hard. We've got guys playing out of position, but they are getting experience."

    Antonio Davis led the Raptors with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

    "I see the light at the end of the tunnel, because at least we are competing," he said. "We haven't just quit while waiting for the other guys to come back."

    Detroit used a run late in the second quarter to go up 50-39 at halftime.

    "That was important, because they were hanging around and hanging around," Carlisle said. "The run at the end of the half gave us a cushion and it gave us some momentum."

    Toronto cut the deficit to six, but the Pistons answered with an 8-0 spurt that was highlighted by Chucky Atkins' 3-pointer.

    Detroit led 72-56 at the end of the third quarter, but the Raptors scored the first five points of the fourth and pulled to 78-70 with 6:27 to go.

    Stackhouse's steal and reverse jam ended the Toronto surge, and Detroit cruised from there.

    "We've got some good things going for us right now," Stackhouse said. "We're playing with force and we've picked up our defense again."

    Game notes

    The Raptors only dressed 11 players because Dell Curry was not with the team. Curry has missed five games with a calf strain, but Toronto already has the maximum three players -- Carter, Jerome Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon -- on the injured list. ... The teams play again Friday night in Toronto. ... Toronto's Morris Peterson got a technical foul for a third-quarter dispute with Zeljko Rebraca. Seconds later, Peterson got a bloody nose after a collision with teammate Mamadou N`Diaye. ... The Pistons are fourth in the Eastern Conference. They have not had home-court advantage in a playoff series since 1991.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press