Pistons 83, Trail Blazers 68
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Rasheed Wallace didn’t gloat in victory. As usual, he said nothing.
The volatile Wallace left the Rose Garden without comment after he helped the Detroit Pistons to an 83-68 rout of the Trail Blazers. It was his first trip to Portland since the team traded him away last month.
“He said it was nothing personal,” Detroit teammate Ben Wallace said. “He just wanted to get the win and help us get to the playoffs.”
There were a mixture of boos and cheers from the crowd when Wallace was introduced, but it was nothing compared to the jeers showered on the Trail Blazers when they went into the half trailing 46-29.
The Blazers, who fell behind by as many as 25 points, have lost four straight after a five-game winning streak.
Wallace’s return came on the heels of former Blazer Bonzi Wells’ first Portland appearance with his new team, the Grizzlies. Wells, who was roundly booed, had 28 points as Memphis beat the Blazers 97-88 Wednesday night.
“We didn’t play well,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I can’t tell you why. I don’t know why.”
Wallace had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Pistons, who have won five of their last six. Chauncey Billups had 16 points.
He played just one game with the Hawks before he was dealt with Mike James to the Pistons in a three-way trade that also involved the Celtics.
His trade from the Blazers was described by team President Steve Patterson as a “watershed day” for the franchise, which has been struggling with a public image tainted by player arrests and team infighting.
Wallace, in his eighth season, was perceived to be one of the team’s chief problems. Wells, another, was traded to the Grizzlies in early December.
While at times he showed flashes of superstar talent, Wallace was inconsistent and temperamental on the court. In the 2000-01 season he was called for a league-record 41 technical fouls.
Last season, he and teammate Damon Stoudamire were cited in Washington state on marijuana charges while returning from a game in Seattle.
Wallace was also suspended by the NBA for seven games last season for threatening an official on the Rose Garden loading dock after a game. It was the league’s longest suspension for something that didn’t involve physical contact or substance abuse.
But despite a chilly relationship with the media, Wallace was popular with his teammates and many fans. There were a number of Wallace jerseys spotted in the crowd Thursday, and one fan lofted a sign reading “Wallace for MVP.”
Wallace arrived at the Rose Garden a little more than an hour before the game, wearing Wells’ No. 6 Portland jersey. He declined to talk to reporters.
“He’s fitting in perfect,” Billups said. “He brings everything to this team. Defense, emotion, scoring inside and out and great passing. He’s a blessing to us.”
His long jumper put the Pistons up 16-9 in the first quarter. Billups extended the lead to 23-12 with a 17-foot fast-break jumper.
Wallace’s alley-oop dunk made it 33-22 for Detroit midway through the second quarter and Detroit went up by as many as 17 points in the first half.
Zach Randolph had 11 points for the Blazers, who are watching their playoff hopes slip away.
“We’ve put our backs against a wall—that’s just honesty,” Abdur-Rahim said.
Ben Wallace had 12 points and 19 rebounds for Detroit.
Randolph, who left Wednesday night’s game in the fourth quarter with a sore hip, was in the starting lineup for the Blazers. … Detroit coach Larry Brown stayed in the locker room after the first half because of a sore back. “He was a little uncomfortable sitting tonight so he let me come in and do mything a little bit,” assistant Mike Woodson said.