Artest serenaded by boos as Pistons rout KingsJan 21, 2007 - 5:30 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Maybe Ron Artest was hoping Detroit Pistons fans wouldn't recognize him. No such luck.
Sporting a mohawk in his return trip to The Palace of Auburn Hills, Artest was booed mercilessly. The Pistons treated the Sacramento Kings in similar fashion with a 91-74 victory.
Artest was back here for the first time since November 19, 2004, when as a member of the Indiana Pacers he went into the stands to fight a fan who had thrown a beverage at him, touching off a full-scale riot that became a huge black eye for the NBA.
With a history of erratic behavior, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, missing 75 games. He was traded to the Kings last season and did not play here at all.
On Thursday, Artest had his hair cut into a mohawk by teammate Mike Bibby and sported the new look in Friday's win at Boston. When he was introduced Saturday, he was showered with boos, which continued throughout the contest whenever he touched the ball.
Artest interacted with the crowd once, making a motion like he was throwing a ball toward the fans.
"When I had to do my community service, a couple friends that I met when I came to Detroit said, 'When you come into the game we're going to play catch,'" Artest said. "I couldn't really see them because they were all spread out. It felt like I had fans there, you know? I threw the ball and they threw it back."
Artest scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting and added six rebounds and four assists. He said he felt no emotion in returning and wasn't bothered by the boos.
"I wasn't paying it no mind," he said.
A fast start against a team more tired than they were was the perfect tonic for the Pistons, who used first-half runs of 13-2 and 19-7 to build a 41-19 lead.
Richard Hamilton scored 19 points, Tayshaun Prince added 17 and Antonio McDyess continued his strong play off the bench with 12 for the Pistons. Chris Webber, who played his third game since joining Detroit, had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"No question, we needed this," Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups said. "We had a long, tough game last night on the road (a double-overtime victory at Minnesota), and to come home and take care of business early and get some rest is nice.
"If you come back home and have to grind, grind, grind down the stretch, that's when your legs get tired."
Detroit led, 9-8, with 5:33 left in the first quarter when Prince's three-point play triggered a 13-2 run that opened a 22-10 lead. Detroit kept rolling in the second quarter as McDyess and Lindsey Hunter combined for nine points in the 19-7 spurt.
Detroit maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
"We had good energy early," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "The first 18 minutes I thought we played very solid. We played very good as a team."
It was the eighth loss in nine games for Sacramento, including three of four on an Eastern Conference trip that ended Saturday.
"All teams go through road trips like this," Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "We played like we were tired, but there is no excuse for a loss like this. We played tired, but every team in the league has done that."
Former Piston Corliss Williamson scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Kings.
DETROIT 91 FINAL
Jan 20 9:57 PM
DETROIT 75 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 20 9:24 PM
DETROIT 48 HALFTIME
Jan 20 8:37 PM
DETROIT 22 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 20 8:07 PM
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