Tracy McGrady and Charlie Villanueva

It says something about the state of affairs on the Detroit Pistons when Rip Hamilton gets benched for Ben Gordon because of the perception that Rip simply isn’t trying anymore. He’s practically been “Mr. Piston” for most of the past decade but in a season where he’s been tossed out of three games already and appears lackadaisical in many others, it seems the current losing culture of the franchise has gotten to him.

Looking at the Pistons’ roster, their veterans seem too old and their youngsters don’t appear to have very much upside. Are Pistons fans supposed to get excited about the NBA futures of Greg Monroe and Austin Daye? Perhaps they can get fired up for this game in the hopes of avenging their loss to the Raptors on Dec. 11 when they blew a 25-point lead over the last 17 minutes of the game. A Detroit win tonight would tie them with the Raptors at 10-19 — and both teams would still be in the playoff hunt since the current eighth seed in the East is Milwaukee at 11-16. In Eastern Conference, playoffs make you! What a conference! /Yakov’d

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon are probable, Amir Johnson is questionable, Sonny Weems is doubtful.

Detroit: Tracy McGrady, Rip Hamilton and Austin Day are questionable, Rodney Stuckey is probable.

Five questions

You know what? Not tonight. I’d have to work too damn hard to come up with five questions about this game that I would even care about the answer to. I’m supposed to start my first “real” holiday in over 2 years after today, so excuse me for mailing this one in a little.

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Ed Davis, Andrea Bargnani
Detroit: Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Charlie Villanueva, Ben Wallace

Tonight’s pregame song is “Candy Cane Children” from The White Stripes, because it’s almost Christmas and The White Stripes are from Detroit. This is the last game thread before Christmas and I’ll be on vacation from tomorrow until Jan. 4, but I’ll probably still do all the game threads during that time. I expect Holly and Joseph will have plenty of content to carry all of you into the new year.