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No Kobe, no Shaq, no Phil, no problem for Detroit

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- As Rasheed Wallace was making
3-pointers and grabbing rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers, he
could hardly believe he was playing the same team Detroit defeated
in the NBA Finals.

Wallace had 23 points and a season-high 15 rebounds and Tayshaun
Prince scored 25 points as the Pistons got off to a strong start
and routed the Lakers 103-81 Thursday night in their first meeting
since last June.

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

However, the result was familiar -- a thorough thrashing by
Detroit.

The Pistons looked a lot like the team that disposed of Los
Angeles in five games while winning by an average margin of 13
points. The Lakers bear almost no resemblance to their predecessors
from last season.

Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Phil Jackson are
gone, and Kobe Bryant is out, too, with a sprained ankle.

"They are really decimated right now without Vlade (Divac) and
Devean George and Kobe," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "We were
fortunate to catch them when we did, but we played very well."

The Pistons moved a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the Central
Division standings with their sixth win in seven games. They led by
16 points about 4 minutes into a game that 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.

"We're looking for something that we can hang our hats on
consistently, but we can't find one," Hamblen said. "It hurts us
to have to search for something every night."

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.

"The Pistons played like we want to play," Atkins said. "They
play as a team, and they outplayed us in every aspect of the
game."

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.

Detroit's Chauncey Billups had 15 points and a season-high 11
assists, Ben Wallace grabbed 15 rebounds, Richard Hamilton scored
11 and the Pistons had a season-high 30 assists.

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

"We were fresher, no doubt," Prince said.

Detroit showed it, jumping out to an 18-2 lead as the Lakers had
more turnovers (two) than field goals (one) and led by 18 after the
first quarter, outrebounding them 22-11.

"We had 30 points in the first quarter shooting 37 percent, so
that shows how we dominated the boards and did everything else
well," Brown said.

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.

"The Lakers have been down in a lot of games recently, but
they've come back to at least make it close," Prince said. "We
didn't want to let them do that."

Game notes
Detroit's Lindsey Hunter (flu) missed his second straight
game and Darvin Ham (right calf strain) did not play. ... Prince,
who was a point short of his career high, outscored the Lakers
15-14 in the first quarter ... The Pistons are 17-7 at home and the
Lakers are 8-13 on the road. ... Atkins was dealt to Boston last
year in the three-team trade for Rasheed Wallace. ... Divac (lower
back surgery) and George (ankle surgery) are both on the injured
list.