AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Ben Wallace is a big reason why the
Detroit Pistons are having such surprising success, and all his
teammates know it.
Jerry Stackhouse scored 20 points, and Wallace added 13 points
and 13 rebounds to help the surging Pistons beat the
injury-depleted Toronto Raptors 89-76 Monday night.
"If Ben is scoring double figures like he has been lately,
we're just going to get on his back and ride him," Stackhouse
said. "Heck, if he keeps this up, we might even start calling some
plays for him."
Matched up against former teammate Eric Montross, Wallace had 12
points and seven rebounds in the first half.
"When Eric was here last year, I had a lot of success with a
couple moves against him in practice," Wallace said. "So I went
to those moves today and was able to hit some baskets."
Still, Wallace's most important role is on the defensive end. He
leads the NBA in blocks, and ranks third in rebounds and 19th in
"Ben is the guy who sets the tone for us," Pistons coach Rick
Carlisle said. "He's a monster on that end of the floor, so when
he gets double figures in scoring, we're probably going to win the
The Pistons (29-22) have won three straight and nine of 11 to
reach seven games over .500 for the first time since they were 14-7
Detroit moved into a tie with Milwaukee for first place in the
Central Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
"We're in a position to do more than just get the seventh or
eight playoff spot," Cliff Robinson said. "We can start thinking
about catching Milwaukee in the division or getting one of the top
spots in the East."
Toronto has lost five straight since Vince Carter went on the
injured list with a quadriceps strain. He is eligible to return
Wednesday night against Charlotte.
The Raptors dressed only 11 players because Dell Curry was not
with the team. Curry has missed five games with a calf strain, but
Toronto already has the maximum three players -- Carter, Jerome
Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon -- on the injured list.
"We just have to play our way through this," coach Lenny
Wilkens said. "When you have as many people out as we do, you just
have to keep working hard. We've got guys playing out of position,
but they are getting experience."
"I see the light at the end of the tunnel, because at least we
are competing," he said. "We haven't just quit while waiting for
the other guys to come back."
Detroit used a run late in the second quarter to go up 50-39 at
"That was important, because they were hanging around and
hanging around," Carlisle said. "The run at the end of the half
gave us a cushion and it gave us some momentum."
Toronto cut the deficit to six, but the Pistons answered with an
8-0 spurt that was highlighted by Chucky Atkins' 3-pointer.
Detroit led 72-56 at the end of the third quarter, but the
Raptors scored the first five points of the fourth and pulled to
78-70 with 6:27 to go.
Stackhouse's steal and reverse jam ended the Toronto surge, and
Detroit cruised from there.
"We've got some good things going for us right now,"
Stackhouse said. "We're playing with force and we've picked up our
The Raptors only dressed 11 players because Dell Curry was
not with the team. Curry has missed five games with a calf strain,
but Toronto already has the maximum three players -- Carter, Jerome
Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon -- on the injured list. ... The teams
play again Friday night in Toronto. ... Toronto's Morris Peterson
got a technical foul for a third-quarter dispute with Zeljko
Rebraca. Seconds later, Peterson got a bloody nose after a
collision with teammate Mamadou N`Diaye. ... The Pistons are fourth
in the Eastern Conference. They have not had home-court advantage
in a playoff series since 1991.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
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