Washington Wizards guard Jerry Stackhouse said he would be somewhat emotional in his regular season return against the Pistons, whom he played with for 41/2 seasons before he was traded to Washington. However, a game here during the preseason eliminated much of the potential drama, leaving him in a better state to play up to par, he said.

"Playing a former team is always going to have its subplots to it but the emotions, it was good getting them out in preseason," Stackhouse said before the game. "All those guys, you have relationships, that's the tough part of it."

Stackhouse, Ratko Varda and Brian Cardinal were acquired in exchange for Richard Hamilton, Hubert Davis and Bobby Simmons. Stackhouse said he tracks the Pistons and is not surprised by their success.

"There's been a lot of change," he said. "They play a little different style and that's according to the personnel. That's a credit to [Coach] Rick Carlisle. He's a great coach who's able to put guys in different situations and is able to win games."

Hoyas Confer

Wizards assistant coach Patrick Ewing spoke to Nets center Dikembe Mutombo on Tuesday night after Mutombo learned he must have right wrist surgery (damaged ligaments) that will sideline him for up to four months. Mutombo is using the same doctor who operated on Ewing's right wrist, Charles Melone, after Ewing severely broke it and damaged ligaments during the 1998-99 season.

"I tore and broke everything up and I'm not sure how bad his is but I know I had to go through extensive rehab," Ewing said. "They didn't even know if I'd be able to bend my wrist or how far I'd be able to bend it.

"It changed my shot. Even though I could shoot the ball effectively, it wasn't the same. I had to change the mechanics of it. That's why we're athletes, we can adapt."