AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—Flip Saunders knows Rasheed Wallace walks a fine line.
Wallace can be one of the league’s best players, as well as one of its most emotional and physical. Or he can be maddeningly frustrating, making silly fouls and causing his team points.
“It’s a catch-22 with Sheed,” the Detroit Pistons coach said. “He gets fired up like he did tonight, and he’s unstoppable, and I’m not just talking about offensively. His defense was just as good. But you worry about losing him for the night.”
Wallace made up for a fourth-quarter technical foul Saturday night by scoring six points of his season-high 28 points late in the game, helping the Pistons beat the Toronto Raptors 98-92.
“I just handed the ball to (official) Scott (Foster),” said Wallace, who called the call “crazy.” “Sam (Mitchell) was in their faces all night and that kid, T.J. (Ford), he threw the ball down, and they didn’t get anything.”
Detroit, which led 76-73 after three periods, continued to hold the lead for most of the fourth before getting frustrated by the officiating, culminating in Wallace’s technical. Anthony Parker’s free throw pulled the Raptors within 85-84, and Andrea Bargnani followed with a 3-pointer to put Toronto ahead.
Wallace, though, answered quickly. His three-point play at the other end put Detroit back in front, and his 3-pointer with 2:45 remaining finished the Pistons’ 10-point run. The Raptors never threatened again.
“Of course I feed off that,” he said. “If they make those calls on myself or any of our players, absolutely I’ll feed off that.”
“We are getting better as the season is growing a little older,” Billups said. “You learn from your mistakes, and I think we’re doing a good job of that.”
Billups wasn’t surprised at all at Wallace’s late-game outbursts—emotional or scoring.
“Everybody knows that when he gets technicals and the deck is kind of stacked against him, he comes out fighting,” he said. “When he does that, I call his play as many times as I can until he gets tired.”
Ford had 17 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, whose five-game winning streak was stopped. Chris Bosh added with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 5-for-15 against Wallace as Toronto lost its eighth in a row at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
“Chris had a tough night—I thought Rasheed did a good job on him,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.
Bosh wasn’t going to blame Friday night’s win over the Lakers for slowing him down.
“I don’t think energy was a factor,” he said. “It’s really tough when they set up in their defense. I don’t like it, but I just have to keep playing.”
The Raptors led for most of the first half by shooting 51.4 percent against the usually tough Pistons defense. Toronto got points from nine players and took a 49-43 lead into the intermission.
The Pistons pulled even with an 8-0 run early in the third, and the teams traded the lead until Detroit used another surge to go up 76-73 at period’s end.
“They beat us,” Mitchell said. “I’m not making excuses, but give credit where credit is due. They’ve been playing well and we’ve been playing well and they beat us in a close game on their floor.”
Hamilton was called for a flagrant offensive foul in the first after catching Parker in the eye with an elbow. … Wallace’s technical was his 15th, meaning he’ll get an automatic one-game suspension for the next one. … The Raptors needed less than five minutes to extend their NBA record to 665 games with at least one 3-pointer, as Jorge Garbajosa knocked down their first attempt.