PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—It was classic ‘Sheed.
Afterward, Wallace dutifully answered questions from the Detroit media, but ignored Portland-based reporters. He kept his hand—the one with the championship ring he earned after being traded away by the Blazers last season — at his chin and cheek for the benefit of cameras.
“I knew they were going to come hard at me and vice versa,” Wallace said. “I was concentrating on—I just wanted to go full speed at these guys—for personal reasons.”
Richard Hamilton had 20 points and nine assists for the Pistons, who have won a season-high eight in a row and 13 of their last 14.
Damon Stoudamire had 19 points for Portland, which has lost seven of its last nine with the two wins coming against Charlotte and Atlanta—the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit, which led by as many as 17 points, opened by hitting its first 10 shots from the floor.
But it was mostly about Wallace, who even threw in a technical foul for old time’s sake.
When Tayshaun Prince had an alley-oop layup that made it 34-21 early on, an animated Wallace taunted his old coach as he ran back down the floor.
“Timeout Cheeks!” he shouted.
Portland coach Maurice Cheeks rolled his eyes.
“Rasheed was psyched up for the game and had a great start,” Prince said. “He made some big shots, some big 3s early for us.”
It was Wallace’s second trip back to the Rose Garden since the Trail Blazers traded him to Atlanta a little more than a year ago. He played one game for the Hawks before he was dealt to Detroit.
His 7 1/2 -years in Portland were rocky. Although he was well-liked among his teammates, he had a strained relationship with the local media, often answering questions with the stock answer: “Both teams played hard.”
Wallace also had a temper. He broke his own NBA record with 41 technical fouls during the 2000-01 season, and then was suspended for seven games two seasons ago for threatening an official on the Rose Garden loading dock.
He had a love-hate relationship with the fans, which was evident Tuesday night when he was introduced to a balanced greeting of boos and cheers.
Earlier as he arrived at the Rose Garden, he made good on a promise made two days earlier to show off his NBA championship ring, glinting on his finger. A Blazer employee innocently asked to see it, oblivious to Wallace’s remarks.
“The first thing that I’m going to do tomorrow morning, before practice, after breakfast, is go to the jewelry store that I know close to the hotel and get that thing buffed up and shined real good and just flash it off to all of them out there for all those people who said I was a cancer,” he said after Detroit’s 94-88 victory over Golden State.
Treating the fans to a bit of the temperamental forward they came to know so well, Wallace was called for a technical foul in the third quarter.
He played it up to the crowd, pointing skyward at the video scoreboard for a replay of the foul he argued.
When he left the game with about a minute left and five fouls, Wallace said to the crowd: “Everybody applaud and leave.”
But after the game, he warmly embraced Ruben Patterson, then threw an arm around Cheeks and walked with him through the tunnel leading to the Blazers’ locker room.
“I’m really happy for Rasheed. He was one of my favorite guys here and I’m happy that he got himself a championship and that he’s playing on a team with a chance to win another one,” Cheeks said.
After leading 60-50 at the half, the Pistons went up 75-58 on Hamilton’s jumper midway through the third.
The Blazers narrowed it to 85-78 on Zach Randolph’s reverse layup early in the fourth, then Patterson’s layup got Portland to within 94-87 with 3:45 to go. That was a close as it would get.
The Pistons were 9-1 in February, their best record for the month since 1990. … The Pistons were reportedly interested in former Blazers forward Dale Davis, waived by the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday. But published reports have Davis favoring the Indiana Pacers, although no deal was announced. … The Blazers won the first game between the two teams this season, 75-74, at Detroit.