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Huntington Center shines in NBA debut

  • Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut-3

    Fan favorite Ben Wallace looks to get off a shot against the Wizards' Andray Blatche at the Huntington Center.

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  • Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut-2

    Joshua Jacobs, 13, was one of many fans dressed in Pistons attire as Detroit played in Toledo for the first time in 21 years.

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  • Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut

    The Pistons' Rodney Stuckey slashes through the Wizards' defense. He was the star of the night with 34 points in Detroit's win.

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Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut

The Pistons' Rodney Stuckey slashes through the Wizards' defense. He was the star of the night with 34 points in Detroit's win.

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The Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards visited the Huntington Center Tuesday night and put the NBA on display in downtown Toledo.

An announced crowd of 6,424 showed up for the exhibition game. They, however, witnessed more than just another preseason NBA affair.

The partisan Pistons crowd welcomed the Motor City's three-time NBA champions back to the Glass City for the first time in 21 years. It also represented the first basketball contest to take place in the year-old facility, which is the home for the Toledo Walleye hockey team.

The event turned out to be a complete success as the Pistons prevailed 98-92 over the Wizards.

Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut-2

Joshua Jacobs, 13, was one of many fans dressed in Pistons attire as Detroit played in Toledo for the first time in 21 years.

The Blade/Lori King
Enlarge | Buy This Image

"It's been a great first game," said Steve Miller, the Huntington Center general manager. "The Pistons have been terrific to work with. This is something we hope to continue in the future.

"The Pistons realize that Toledo is part of their fan base. We hope they're back soon."

The Pistons aren't near the title-contending caliber of the two-time NBA champion "Bad Boys" of the late '80s or on par with the 2004 NBA champions. However, they still provided plenty of crowd-pleasing moments during the two-hour excursion in which many in attendance donned some form of Pistons attire.

Rodney Stuckey delivered a game-high 34 points, including an assortment of scoring drives while showing an improved touch on his mid-range jumpshot from a season ago.

Huntington-Center-shines-in-NBA-debut-3

Fan favorite Ben Wallace looks to get off a shot against the Wizards' Andray Blatche at the Huntington Center.

The Blade/Lori King
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Charlie Villanueva came off the bench and added 19 points, while Austin Daye chipped in 10.

Stuckey knocked down 13-of-18 shots and was 8-for-9 from the foul line in his first visit to Toledo.

"It's a nice place," Stuckey said. "It's a really nice facility."

He was pleasantly surprised by the support of Pistons fans and would be open to playing in Toledo in the future.

"It was a home game away from home," Stuckey said. "It's a chance to play here for the sake of our fan base."

The crowd noise reached its loudest during the first half when Wizards 7-foot center JaVale McGee came through with a reverse one-hand dunk and it was followed by Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince getting free and coming through with a slam dunk of his own over the outstretched hands of McGee.

Pistons coach John Kuester also thought the Huntington Center proved to be a good venue to hold a Pistons preseason game.

"The fans were great," Kuester said. "I was not aware of so many Pistons fans down here.

"It was perfect for us tonight. It was a good atmosphere."

Wizards rookie guard John Wall, who was selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft, also delivered a few moments that led to a few "oohs" and "aahs" from the fans. Wall dazzled on a couple of drives to the basket in which he dribbled up the court and around defenders who were helpless against his exceptional quickness.

Wall finished with 13 points and a team-high seven assists.

"He's really fast, but he's still young," Stuckey said.

PISTONS ON ICE: The game was played on the basketball court used for a brief moment by Toledo's former American Basketball Association team, the Toledo Ice, which changed its name to Royal Knights after one season. The floor was originally used by the Temple Owls before it was brought to Toledo and used for games held in the SeaGate Convention Centre.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Pistons played recently before more than 10,000 in Grand Rapids, Mich., for their only other home game held away from The Palace of Auburn Hills this preseason. … The agreement with the Pistons to play a preseason game at the Huntington Center was made only for this year. However, an opportunity for future contests hasn't been ruled out. … Pistons guard Tracy McGrady (knee) and Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (groin), former NBA all-stars, did not play in the game due to injury. … The game's tip-off was delayed a few minutes due to an issue with one of the rims and net. The net was eventually reinforced with the aid of tape.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.

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