The defending NBA champions will again be without their All-Star center when they visit the Utah Jazz.
Wallace, a two-time defensive player of the year, left the team after his brother died of brain cancer Monday. The rebounding and shot-blocking specialist is not expected to return until Wednesday’s home game against Minnesota.
In his absence, Detroit surrendered its highest point total since March 2002 in a 117-109 loss to Denver on Thursday night. The Pistons, who didn’t allow an opponent to score 100 points until their 37th game last season, had 23 turnovers and allowed the Nuggets to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
“Anytime you are missing Ben, it is different,” said point guard Chauncey Billups, who scored 16 points and had five assists to top 2,000 for his career. “Having the confidence that he is there is big.”
The 6-foot-9 Wallace, who averaged 12.8 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game in 81 starts last season, was the key to Detroit limiting the opposition to 84.3 points per game in 2003-04. The Pistons set an NBA record by holding five straight teams below 70 points in early March.
Without him anchoring the middle, the Pistons could not contain forward Carmelo Anthony, who had 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Antonio McDyess started at center and played well, going 7-for-11 from the field for 15 points in 35 minutes. Richard Hamilton scored 25 points to lead the Pistons, who are also missing coach Larry Brown after he underwent hip surgery last week.
Detroit will have to contend with a strong Utah frontcourt that features versatile forwards Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer, who will be looking to help the Jazz bounce back from their first loss of the season, 104-95 to Toronto on Wednesday.
Raja Bell scored 20 points, Boozer added 19 and Kirilenko pulled down 10 rebounds for Utah, which failed to shoot 50 percent and score 100 points for the first time this season.
The Jazz also let up defensively after holding the opposition to 82.8 points over the first four games.
“We need to realize how important defense is, not just try to outscore the other team,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 11): Pistons - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, Central Division. Jazz - 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Pistons - Hamilton, 20.2 ppg; Billups, 7.0 apg; B. Wallace, 12.8 rpg. Jazz - Boozer, 19.2 ppg and 9.8 rpg; McLeod, 5.8 apg.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 1; Jazz, 94-86. At Salt Lake City, Giricek scored 24 points and Kirilenko finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals to lead the Jazz.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pistons - 1-2 on the road; Jazz - 2-1 at home.