AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—Back when Michael Jordan was a younger man, the Detroit Pistons stunted his quest to be a champion. Now, they might also be the team that keeps Jordan from ending his career playing in the postseason.
Jordan scored 15 for Washington, which has lost five of seven and is one game behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot. The Wizards, 9-21 away from home, play 11 of their final 17 games on the road.
“We still have a chance,” Jordan said. “But it depends how we want to play.”
Detroit ended Jordan’s season three straight years before he won three consecutive titles with Chicago from 1991-93.
When the Pistons left the Pontiac Silverdome following the 1987-88 season— and eliminated Jordan and the Bulls in the second round—they moved to The Palace and won back-to-back titles after knocking Jordan out of the Eastern Conference finals two years in a row.
Jordan took a huge step toward his first of six championships when he helped Chicago sweep Detroit in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals.
“This team helped me grow up as a player,” Jordan said.
The Eastern Conference-leading Pistons have won four straight after losing a season-high seven games.
Wallace had a third consecutive double-double for the first time this season. The league’s leading rebounder grabbed at least 20 rebounds for the 10th time this season and has 64 rebounds in the last three games. His 24 boards matched his season high.
Wallace also made his second career 3-pointer, and first in two years.
“Now teams are going to have to start paying attention to me spotting up for the 3,” Wallace joked. “I’m an offensive juggernaut.”
Jordan said both Washington and Orlando must regret trading Wallace.
“I think a lot of players in the league should learn from his dedication to the game and his love for the game,” Jordan said. “Even though he’s not a great offensive player, he can make a difference.”
After trailing for the first few minutes, the Pistons controlled the game.
With Jordan on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Wizards scored 11 straight points to cut their deficit to 75-67 with 8:04 left, but they couldn’t get closer until late in the game.
Jerry Stackhouse scored 24 for the Wizards, and Byron Russell added 10. Stackhouse turned his left ankle late in the game, but Washington coach Doug Collins said it wasn’t a serious injury.
It was clear early that it wasn’t going to be Washington’s night when Michael Curry, who averages three points a game, had outscored Jordan 8-to-1 midway through the first quarter. Jordan shot just 6-of-18. Detroit led 25-17after the first quarter and 46-35 at halftime.
Faces in the crowd included NBA commissioner David Stern, singers Kid Rock and Anita Baker and Detroit Red Wings stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios, a longtime friend of Jordan’s from their years in Chicago. … Billups has scored 89 points in his last three games. … Washington’s Tyronn Lue, who missed the last six games with a separated left shoulder, scored eight points, and Jahidi White had six points and eight rebounds in his second game of the season. … The Wizards host Miami on Saturday and Detroit on Tuesday before a six-game road trip against Western Conference teams. … There was an 11-minute delay in the first quarter because Billups pulled half the net off the rimafter being fouled on a layup.