The Pistons continue adjusting to life without the defensive star when they visit the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Wallace spent the last six seasons with the Pistons, leading them to the Eastern Conference finals in each of the last four and the NBA title in 2004. The Pistons won a league-high and franchise-record 64 games last season with the four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract with Chicago in the offseason.
Wallace’s departure looked very costly, at least for one game, as the Pistons gave up 70 points in the paint in a 105-97 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Bucks started attacking the inside early, with Andrew Bogut scoring the opening basket after the Bucks grabbed rebounds off three missed shots.
“Ben’s been the defensive player of the year for what, four years? That says it better than anything else,” Milwaukee’s Charlie Villanueva said. “They are a different team without him.”
The Pistons, however, didn’t want to discuss their former teammate.
“I’m so tired of you all talking about Ben,” normally unflappable power forward Antonio McDyess said. “He’s gone, we’re not going to get him back. It’s about us trying to come together as a team to find our identity now that he’s gone.”
Center Nazr Mohammed, signed by Detroit a day after Wallace left in July, had eight points, 12 rebounds and a blocked shot before fouling out in his Pistons debut.
“My days of worrying about numbers are long gone,” he said.
All-Star Rasheed Wallace discovered Wednesday that he may have to adjust to more this season than just Ben Wallace’s absence. The volatile forward, who went scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting, was ejected in the third quarter after picking up two technical fouls for bickering with officials. NBA commissioner David Stern is trying to eliminate complaining and other reactions from players following calls.
Wallace earned 16 technicals last season and broke his own league record with 41 during the 2000-01 season while playing for Portland. He once threatened an official after a game and was suspended for seven games.
The Celtics are also looking to rebound after an emotional 91-87 season-opening loss to New Orleans on Wednesday. Before the game, the Celtics honored former coach and front office executive Red Auerbach, who died of a heart attack Saturday near his Washington home at the age of 89.
The Celtics wore black, shamrock-shaped patches on their uniforms and said they will dedicate the season to Auerbach, who won nine titles as a coach and seven more in the front office. Pierce, who had 29 points and 19 rebounds, wore a white headband with the number 2 on it, symbolizing the number the Celtics had retired in Auerbach’s honor.
“We wanted to win so bad,” Pierce said. “We wanted to win for the fans. It was definitely emotional in my play.”
Pierce, who led the Celtics with a career-best 26.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season, missed eight of 15 free throws, including four in the fourth quarter. Wally Szczerbiak added 21 points and Al Jefferson had 13.
“I thought we relied so heavily on Paul and guys stopped moving the ball,” coach Doc Rivers said. “And we just can’t do that.”
The Pistons have dominated the Celtics recently, winning nine of the last 10 meetings, including all three last season.