As Rasheed Wallace was making three-pointers and grabbing rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers, he could hardly believe he was playing the same team Detroit defeated in the NBA Finals.
Wallace had 23 points and a season-high 15 rebounds and Tayshaun Prince scored 25 points as the Pistons got off to a strong start and routed the visiting Lakers, 103-81, last night in their first meeting since last June.
"There's no comparison," Wallace said. "It's two different teams -- just same uniforms."
However, the result was familiar -- a thorough thrashing by Detroit.
The Pistons looked a lot like the team that disposed of Los Angeles in five games while winning by an average margin of 13 points. The Lakers bear almost no resemblance to their predecessors from last season.
Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Phil Jackson are gone, and Kobe Bryant is out, too, with a sprained ankle.
"They are really decimated right now without Vlade [Divac] and Devean George and Kobe," Pistons Coach Larry Brown said. "We were fortunate to catch them when we did, but we played very well."
The Pistons moved a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the Central Division standings with their sixth win in seven games. They led by 16 about four minutes into a game that was never in doubt.
Los Angeles is 1-4 under interim coach Frank Hamblen, who replaced Rudy Tomjanovich when he suddenly resigned, and is 6-8 since Bryant went down with a sprained ankle.
"We're looking for something that we can hang our hats on consistently, but we can't find one," Hamblen said. "It hurts us to have to search for something every night."
Lamar Odom led the Lakers with 17 points and Caron Butler had 12. In his first game against his former team, Lakers guard Chucky Atkins scored just three points -- 10 below his average -- on 1-of-7 shooting.
"The Pistons played like we want to play," Atkins said. "They play as a team, and they outplayed us in every aspect of the game."
SUPERSONICS 115, KINGS 107: Antonio Daniels scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, helping host Seattle to its third victory this season over Sacramento.
The Northwest Division-leading Sonics won their fourth in a row, while the Kings dropped their third straight.
All-stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis led the way for the Sonics with 34 and 23 points, respectively, but Daniels, Seattle's valuable reserve point guard, shined in the final period while playing the entire 12 minutes in place of starter Luke Ridnour.
Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 28 points, while Cuttino Mobley had 23 points and Chris Webber had 19 points and nine rebounds.
MAGIC 101, HAWKS 96: Steve Francis scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-deciding 17-footer with 17 seconds to play in Orlando.
Hedo Turkoglu added 24 points and rookie Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds for the Magic, which had lost four of its previous five. Howard became the first rookie since Tim Duncan in 1997-98 to record two 20-rebound games in a season.
"That's just a scratch of what he could do for us night in and night out," Francis said. "He was a monster down there."