Wallace had seven points, six rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter, and the Pistons ended the New Orleans’ Hornets’ modest winning streak with a 90-76 victory Wednesday night.
“That’s what Ben does, and I don’t think anyone else does it as well,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “He does all the little things that you can’t coach. That’s why he’s an All-Star, and that’s why this team wins. He’s amazing.”
Wallace finished with 11 points and a season-best 19 rebounds as Detroit won for the eighth time in 10 games.
“We’re still building and trying to correct a lot of little things,” he said. “Tonight, I got a couple blocks early and that set a tone and got the crowd into it.”
The Hornets (4-30) had doubled their season win total with victories over Sacramento and the Knicks, but were no match for the defending NBA champions.
“They are the world champions, and you have to give them a lot of credit,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “We will go back to the drawing board. We had a good two-game run and we want to start it back over again.”
“I see signs of us getting a little better,” Brown said. “We did a lot of good things tonight against an improving team.”
Detroit led 46-38 at the half behind 17 points from Billups. Ten of his points came in a 10-4 run midway through the second quarter.
New Orleans stayed close for most of the third, but back-to-back dunks by Wallace and Tayshaun Prince put the Pistons ahead 70-55 late in the period.
“We were only down eight at the half, but we couldn’t get a stop in the third quarter,” P.J. Brown said. “We just traded baskets with them and that turned out to be the key to the game. They are a good team, but we should have made a better game out of it.”
Detroit led 72-59 at quarter’s end, thanks to 10 in the period from Hamilton, then put the game away by scoring the first six points of the fourth.
The game was comfortable enough for the Pistons that the fans began chanting for Darko Milicic with nine minutes to play. The second pick in the 2003 draft played the final 3:30, but missed his only two shots.
The game was the first of four at home in six days for Detroit. The Pistons play back-to-back against Orlando and Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday, then finish with a Martin Luther King Day matinee against Phoenix. … The Orlando game is expected to be Grant Hill’s first game at the Palace since he was traded to the Magic after the 1999-2000 season. … New Orleans had won five of six against Detroit before getting swept this season. … Lindsey Hunter’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was originally ruled good, but a replay review showed it came after the clock had expired.