AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 2 (Ticker) -- Rasheed Wallace
that the Detroit Pistons' title defense got off to a good start.
Wallace scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the
Detroit Pistons pulled away to an 87-79 victory over Tracy McGrady
and the Houston Rockets in the season opener for both
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Wallace, Chauncey Billups
and Tayshaun Prince
3-pointers in a 9-2 run to open the final period and give the
Pistons a 68-61 advantage. Detroit had shot just 1-of-9 from the
arc before hitting five straight in the second half.
A free throw by Ben Wallace
with 5:52 left pushed the lead to
77-66. Houston cut the deficit to five points with just under
three minutes to play, but Rasheed Wallace scored six of
Detroit's final eight points to preserve the victory.
"He made some huge baskets," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "We
went to him, he missed an easy one and dunked it. He made a
shot when the clock was running out."
Wallace typically downplayed his performance.
"It was just coming my way," Wallace said. "I just took what
they gave me. A couple of loose balls everyone was tapping
around ended up coming my way. I just put them up and tried to
beat the shot clock."
Billups scored 17 points and Ben Wallace and Richard Hamilton
added 15 apiece in a balanced scoring attack - the same
blueprint that helped the Pistons to the NBA title.
McGrady bounced back from a slow start to score 18 points - 15
in the second half - in his first game with the Rockets. The
two-time scoring champion was acquired from Orlando in an
offseason blockbuster trade.
"Some nights are like that," McGrady said. "It's the first game
of the season and I couldn't get anything going in the first
half. Give them credit. They play D. That's why they won a
Guarded by Prince for most of the game, McGrady shot just
4-of-14 through the first three quarters before heating up in
the final period.
"I'm always trying to make him think I'm in his hair," said
Prince, who was the defensive standout in last year's NBA Finals
with his work against Kobe Bryant
. "I know what these guys can
do if I relax. He's a tremendous player. I remember a game last
year when he was 2-for-10 and we were up by two points. He told
me, 'Don't leave me,' and he hit a 3-pointer. I was so ticked."
All-Star center Yao Ming
, bothered by a left elbow injury, did
not provide much support with just seven on 2-of-9 shooting.
"Even though I am not a lefthanded shooter, my injury still got
to me," Yao said. "Their defense is why they are champions. It
seems as though they took control of us inside and that was the
In a pregame ceremony, the Pistons received their championship
rings from NBA commissioner David Stern. Wallace also had
personalized championship belts made for each team member.
Four Houston starters - including Yao and McGrady - got into
early foul trouble, but Bostjan Nachbar
came off the bench to
score all eight of his points in the first half to help the
Rockets take a 38-37 halftime lead. Ben Wallace hit all four of
his shots to keep the Pistons close.
"We were not doing fundamental things tonight and it showed,"
Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "They were great down the
stretch. When you let up 28 points in the fourth quarter, it's
Forward Antonio McDyess
, who was making his debut with the
Pistons, was ejected with 5:51 remaining in the second period
after he punted the ball into the stands.