Pistons Still Too Much for Lakers

Friday, February 11th 2005, 6:41 am

By: News On 6

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ These Lakers were no match for the Detroit Pistons, either. Rasheed Wallace had 23 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and the Pistons routed Los Angeles 103-81 Thursday night in the first meeting of last year's NBA finalists.

The Lakers look almost nothing like the team the Pistons manhandled to win the championship, but the game had a familiar feel to Detroit guard Chauncey Billups.

``It did because of the way the game went _ with us being up so much,'' said Billups, who had 15 points and a season-high 11 assists.

The Pistons disposed of Los Angeles in five games while winning the finals by an average margin of 13 points per game with the same five starters and coach they have this season.

Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and coach Phil Jackson are no longer Lakers, and Kobe Bryant is out, too, with a sprained ankle.

``There's no comparison,'' Wallace said. ``It's two different teams _ just same uniforms.''

In other games, it was Orlando 101, Atlanta 96 and Seattle 115, Sacramento 107.

Tayshaun Prince scored 25 points for the Pistons, who moved a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the Central Division standings with their sixth win in seven games.

``We still have a long way to go to get to where we were at last year, but we're making steps,'' Wallace said.

Detroit led the Lakers by 16 points about 4 minutes, and the game 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.

``Our team is fighting for its life to make the playoffs,'' Hamblen said.

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.

Bryant wouldn't guess when he'll return, but said he plans on running during Saturday's practice after resting his ankle for a few days.

``It's tough to say because right now it's sore, sometimes it feels good, but with bad ankle sprains, you never know,'' said Bryant, who was booed each time he was shown on the videoboard above the court.

Ben Wallace grabbed 15 rebounds and Richard Hamilton scored 11 for the Pistons, who had a season-high 30 assists.

Not only are the Pistons clearly a better team than the Lakers, they were also better rested. Detroit had a game for just the second time in eight days while the Lakers played their fourth in five nights.

Prince seemed to take advantage of that by outscoring the Lakers 15-14 in the first quarter. He scored 10 more points the rest of the game, making 11 of his career-high 20 shots.

``I look out there and I see a much more confident player,'' Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

The Pistons jumped out to an 18-2 lead as the Lakers had more turnovers (two) than field goals (one). Detroit led 30-14 after the first quarter, outrebounding Los Angeles 22-11.

The Pistons were ahead by as much as 26 in the second quarter and 27 in the third before coasting with reserves in the final quarter.

Magic 101, Hawks 96

At Orlando, Fla., Steve Francis scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-deciding 17-footer with 17 seconds to play.

Hedo Turkoglu added 24 points, and rookie Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds for the Magic. Howard became the first rookie since Tim Duncan in 1997-98 to record two 20-rebound games in a season.

Antoine Walker led Atlanta with 25 points.

SuperSonics 115, Kings 107

At Seattle, Antonio Daniels scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Seattle SuperSonics to their third victory this season over the Kings.

The Northwest Division-leading Sonics won their fourth game 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.

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