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Blazers fans give Wells and earful

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The fans were indifferent to most of the
Trail Blazers, with the notable exception of Bonzi Wells.

Wells was showered with boos during a second-quarter timeout
Friday night as the Portland Trail Blazers were on their way to an
83-81 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

The Blazers, who held off a late rally and got 22 points and
nine rebounds from Rasheed Wallace, were playing their first home
game since controversial remarks by Wells and an unflattering
portrayal of the team were published in Sports Illustrated.

Wells was quoted as saying, "We're not going to worry about
what the hell (the fans) think ... they don't really matter to us.
They can boo us every day, but they're still going to ask for our
autographs if they see us on the street. That's why they're fans
and we're NBA players."

The comments became a public relations nightmare for the Blazers and for Wells, who was in uniform for the first time in five games but did not play due to a sore left knee.

Though Wells apologized, some wondered how the city's only
professional sports team would be welcomed home. When Wells' image
appeared on the video board as part of a feature on players'
favorite holiday gifts as children, fans immediately started booing
and did not stop until well after the piece ended.

It was a touchy subject in the Blazers locker room.

"What do you want me to say about it?" Portland coach Maurice Cheeks asked reporters. "He (Wells) apologized. Bonzi's a great guy."

Said Dale Davis: "I think it's more of a misunderstanding than
anything; at the same time we have a job to do. You just have to
put it behind you and move on and carry yourself in the best
professional way that you can."

Wells, flanked by a member of the Blazers' public relations
staff, refused to address the subject, saying he would only answer
basketball-related questions.

Blazers' president and general manager Bob Whitsitt -- himself a
target of the SI article for his absentee management of the team
from his home in Seattle -- also refused to elaborate any further on
the issue.

"I think it's all been said," Whitsitt said. "I think it's
been hashed around enough, and let's just leave it at that."

When asked about the crowd's booing of Wells, Whitsitt said, "I
don't pay too much attention to that, although I would think it's a
normal reaction."

Further attempts to question Whitsitt were halted by the Blazers
P.R. staff, who asked that further inquiries be directed toward
executive vice president Erin Hubert.

As for the game, Portland got 17 points and six assists from
Damon Stoudamire and Davis had a strong game with 13 points and 14
rebounds.

Jerry Stackhouse led the Pistons with 23 points. Clifford Robinson added 18 and Corliss Williamson had 14. Detroit has lost four in a row on a West Coast road trip that concludes Saturday night at Seattle.

Portland scored just 34 points in the first half, a season-low.
The Blazers found their rhythm in the third, scoring 30 in the
period.

Detroit's 81 points was a season-low for a Blazers' opponent.

"We had some shots, but the defensive zone forced us into some
shots that weren't great shots," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said.
"This has been a symptom of our season, one blowup defensive
quarter."

The Pistons used a 14-2 run to rally from an 81-67 deficit and
pull within two with 6.1 seconds remaining, but Stackhouse missed
at the buzzer to give Portland the win.

"They are a pretty good team, very dangerous," Davis said.
"We kept letting them hang around and we kept letting them hit
shots.

"We have to continue to come out and do what it takes to win
ballgames."

Said Cheeks: "They made shots. Sometimes you let your guard
down when you have a lead like that. But they were hitting shots
and they made some crazy 3s."

Portland heads to Phoenix on Saturday, another game Wells expects to miss. The Blazers' next home game is Thursday versus Utah.

Game notes
Portland has won six of seven against Detroit and 25 of 26
against the Pistons in Portland. ... Carlisle is a former Blazer,
serving as an assistant under P.J. Carlesimo from 1994-97. ...
Wells is a former Pistons draft pick. ... Portland improved to 3-12
when Wallace scores less than 23 points.

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