AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Chauncey Billups looked like he was gearing up for a big night.
Instead, he decided to enjoy the unusual role of cheerleader.
Billups took advantage of Brandon Roy's absence to score 17 points in the first quarter, then watched Detroit's young reserves finish off the Pistons' seventh straight victory, 91-82 over the Portland Trail Blazers last night.
"You know me - if this had been a tight game, I would have stayed in there and stayed aggressive," said Billups, who didn't score in the final three periods. "But the kids were playing so well that it was more fun to sit on the bench and cheer for them."
Detroit led 27-18 after Billups' big first period, then blew the game open with Rasheed Wallace and four reserves on the floor. Rookie Rodney Stuckey, Billups' backup, had nine points, and Amir Johnson added seven as Detroit outscored Portland 32-17 in the second.
"I think Sheed was the key to that - he kept the other four guys calm and focused," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Our point guards were great - Chauncey and Stuckey combined for 26 points and six assists in the half, and that's pretty good production for 24 minutes."
Stuckey finished with a career-best 13 points and added four assists without a turnover.
"When I push the ball, I'm going to get some easy shots," he said. "That's what I do."
Roy missed the game due to a death in his family, but Portland coach Nate McMillan didn't think that excused the lopsided loss.
"Brandon's a big part of this team, but he's not the whole team," McMillan said. "They manhandled us. Chauncey set the tone offensively and defensively, and they pretty much had control of the game right from the start."
LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 22 points, the same number he scored in a 102-94 home win over Detroit on Dec. 13. Jarrett Jack was the only other Trail Blazer to reach double figures, scoring 10.
"There is no excuse for not coming out with a sense of urgency tonight," McMillan said. "There will be times when Brandon is on the bench, and we still have to play offense and play defense."
With Wallace on the floor with Stuckey, Johnson, Jarvis Hayes, and Arron Afflalo, the Pistons opened the second period with a 23-8 run on their way to a 50-36 halftime edge.
Johnson, Afflalo, and Stuckey are all 23 or younger and came into this season with a combined 11 games of NBA experience, so Stuckey expects the group to get better.
"We're just learning how to play with each other," he said. "We're going to be doing this together for a lot of years."
Detroit led by as many as 27 in the second half.
"It's embarrassing to get beaten like that," said the Blazers' Martell Webster, who replaced Roy in the starting lineup. "We had to pick up the slack for Brandon, pure and simple, and we didn't put forth the effort."
NOTES: Roy, who leads Portland in scoring, assists and steals, is also expected to miss Saturday's game in Indiana. ... The Pistons' reserves outscored Portland's 28-4 in the first half. ... Billups and Hamilton will both take part on All-Star Saturday in New Orleans on Feb. 16. Hamilton will make his debut in the 3-point shooting contest, while Billups will team up with Bill Laimbeer and Swin Cash in the Shooting Stars competition. The trio won the 2007 competition, but Cash was a surprising choice this year, since both she and Laimbeer have said she will not return to the Detroit Shock for the 2008 season.
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