The Toronto Raptors had one goal in mind when they came to Detroit keep Jerry Stackhouse and Grant Hill off the foul line.
That didn't quite work Thursday night, as the Pistons pair combined for 30 free throws and 46 points, but the idea was sound. Hill and Stackhouse each missed 16 of their 22 field-goal attempts, and the Raptors went on to an easy 123-106 victory.
"When you have two guys like that who are historically high in free-throw attempts, you have to make them into jump shooters," Raptors coach Butch Carter said. "Then you just have to hope and pray that they don't hit the jumpers."
"We shot 40 free throws, but we weren't getting the ball to the hole," he said. "We've got to get the ball inside to be successful."
Seven Raptors scored in double figures, led by Doug Christie's 24, and three of them Vince Carter, Kevin Willis and Antonio Davis also had at least 10 rebounds. Overall, the Raptors outrebounded Detroit 51-37.
"We knew they were a good rebounding team with Grant and Jerome (Williams), so we just kept hitting the glass," Vince Carter said. "We put bodies on those two, and the guards hit the glass."
Hill led Detroit with 25 points, but couldn't explain the Pistons' sluggish play and 1-5 start.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "We've just got to get it right and turn this thing around. We've got too many good players, too many ood guys and too much pride to let this happen. It's gut-check time."
The Pistons, who never led in losing their home opener to New York last Friday, did not start out any better against Toronto. The Raptors scored the first four points of the game and never looked back, rolling to a 41-28 lead after the first quarter.
"When you give up 41 points in the first quarter, and you let a team shoot 69 percent, you have no defensive presence at all," Gentry said. "You aren't going to beat anyone playing defense like that."
Toronto increased its margin to 53-32 early in the second before the Pistons made a run.
Six points from Stackhouse and four from Hill led a 14-4 surge that pulled Detroit within 59-48. The Raptors recovered, though, and were ahead 74-57 at halftime.
Detroit rallied again in the third, pulling to 88-78 before Christie's 3-pointer ended the run.
"We knew they would make a run, but it was in our favor that we had the cushion," Vince Carter said. "They had to make up a lot of points, and they would get part of it, and then get a little fatigued."
Toronto led 98-87 after three quarters, and put the game away with an 8-3 run at the start of the fourth.
"Give Toronto credit - they just hit shots," Stackhouse said. "It was just their night. You expect guys like Carter and Christie to do it, but they had Kevin Willis out there making jumpers. If we could shoot like that, we'd win, too."
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed