After early trouble, Blazers scratch out another win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Rasheed Wallace heading to the bench
in the opening seconds wasn't exactly how the Portland Trail
Blazers wanted to start their quest for an eighth straight victory.

In the end, though, it didn't matter.

After picking up two fouls in the first 42 seconds, Wallace came
back to score 19 points, and Bonzi Wells added 17 as the Trail
Blazers beat the Detroit Pistons 85-74 Monday night.

"We didn't want to have Rasheed on the bench like that, but we
responded,'' Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Zach Randolph
came in and did a great job. That's how he has been pretty much all
year. He has stepped up and responded when we needed him.''

Portland blew a 13-point third-quarter lead, allowing Detroit to
tie the game at 68 with 8:20 to play.

The Trail Blazers then scored the next 15 points, holding the
Pistons scoreless for over six minutes. Wallace and Dale Davis each
had four points in the run, and three other players scored.

"Right now, when adversity strikes, we are coming together like
a family,'' Wells said. "I'm just a role player; Rasheed's our
guy. I work off him, and whatever I can do to help him, I'll do

Pistons coach Rick Carlisle was ejected from the game during the
run after picking up his second technical foul of the night.

"I don't condone getting thrown out of games, but I felt there
were discrepancies out there that were unfair to my players,'' said

Detroit's Cliff Robinson, who fouled out in just 22 minutes,
also was unhappy with the officiating.

"We are playing to play with defensive intensity, and we are
getting met with tough whistles,'' he said. "I wish I could
pinpoint the reason, but I can't. I just want them to call it

Derek Anderson added 14 for Portland, which has beaten Detroit
five straight times and eight of the nine.

"We're playing together,'' Anderson said. "Last year we had
guys complaining about playing time, and there were other things
going on. This year, nobody complains, they just play.''

Richard Hamilton scored 22 for Detroit, which had its five-game
home winning streak snapped, while Corliss Williamson added 16 and
Ben Wallace had 20 rebounds but missed eight of 10 free throws.

Portland led 46-41 at halftime, with Rasheed Wallace scoring
nine despite the foul trouble.

"We have a lot of quality players,'' Cheeks said. "When
Rasheed was out of the game and Bonzi was not making shots, I think
everyone was chipping in. Then, as the game unfolded, it became
Bonzi and Rasheed, the guys that have been carrying us pretty much
for the last eight to 10 games.''

Hamilton scored Detroit's first seven points of the second half,
allowing the Pistons to get to 53-48 midway through the third. A
11-2 run late in the period helped Portland expand the margin to
13, at 68-55.

The Blazers led 68-59 at the end of the quarter, but Jon Barry
started the fourth with two 3-pointers, pulling Detroit within
three. Barry added a technical-foul free throw before Williamson's
layup tied the game.

"We made a nice run, but then we had some bad turnovers,''
Barry said. "You can't do stuff like that against an awfully good
team like Portland.''

Game notes
The teams combined to miss 12 of 28 free throws in the
first half. Wallace went 0-for-4 for Detroit, while Ruben Patterson
was 1-of-5 for Portland. ... Pistons center Zeljko Rebraca missed
his fourth straight game with an irregular heartbeat. ... Officials
called three free-throw lane violations during the game.