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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

Wallace gets helpful hints from teammates

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Rasheed Wallace's teammates have had words with him, and not just about avoiding his seventh technical foul.

After Game 5, Pistons veteran guard Lindsey Hunter asked Wallace not to hug Boston forward Kevin Garnett at the end of games in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. Garnett and Wallace were both part of the 1995 draft class and are good friends.

"I had a long talk with him," Hunter said in an interview that aired on ESPN. "Rip [Richard Hamilton] was really animated about this. Rip said, 'How can you go up to this guy after we lost and hug him?' And he was like, 'I'm paying homage.' Homage nothing. We're at battle right now. After this is over, take him to dinner, but not right now."

Before Game 6 at the Palace last night, Pistons coach Flip Saunders said there was no dissension in the Detroit locker room.

"It was more in jest and joking than anything else," Saunders said. "I think they're saying, you can maybe hug a little bit, but let's make sure you don't forget about hitting, getting in the post and doing those things. That's the way the team is as far as being able to talk to guys about those situations."

Hamilton concurred the message wasn't relayed in an angry way to Wallace.

"Lindsey's silly, you know that," Hamilton said. "That's what he does."

As for Wallace's technicals, with one more he will have seven and earn a suspension. Saunders said he didn't think Wallace's sixth technical in Game 5 was warranted.

"He's had a lot of people talk to him, he knows where he's at," Saunders said. "He tries to watch himself, but he's kind of walking the fine line of knowing that he still has to play with emotion but he can't get carried away.

"He understands the importance of him to the team and that he's needed."

RIP OK: After injuring his elbow at the end of Game 5 in Boston, Hamilton was in the starting lineup last night. He wore a protective sleeve on his strained right elbow, but that wasn't anything different from Wednesday, when he also wore a sleeve.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he thought Hamilton would still be tough to guard.

"Our motto is if he steps on the floor, he's 100 percent, and that's how we're going to play," Rivers said. "If he shows us something different, then maybe we will do something different."

Hamilton had 10 points in the first quarter on 5-of-6 shooting.

LONG SEASON: The Pistons are used to these deep runs with six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances. But this is the Celtics' first playoff appearance since 2004, and Boston has played 20 playoff games, almost a fourth of the regular season.

Rivers was asked how his team was holding up with the extra work.

"They look great," Rivers said. "I haven't heard anyone talking about fatigue or anything like that. During the playoffs you don't practice as much, you do more prep stuff, walk-throughs, so you don't have that grind on your body. I think they're fine."



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