AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Detroit and Indiana were able just to play basketball for the first time this season at The Palace.
"It was good to see the focus on basketball," said Ben Wallace, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year who also came through on offense Monday night in the Pistons' 96-81 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. "We sort of left the past in the past, and that's a good thing for both teams and the league."
Naturally, Wallace played a big role defensively with 15 rebounds and four steals. But he scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half to help Detroit build a big lead it maintained easily.
The Pacers' two previous road games against the Pistons were marred by the infamous melee -- which started on the court, spilled into the stands and went back onto the court -- and a phone threat of a bomb in Indiana's locker room, delaying the second game at The Palace by almost 90 minutes.
Monday, Detroit's Richard Hamilton had 28 points, while Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace each scored 11.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night.
Just like both teams predicted, they were able to play without unusual distractions.
Indiana's Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, suspended for 30 and 15 games for their roles in the brawl, were booed louder than the rest of their teammates during pregame introductions and sometimes when they had the ball.
That seemed to be the only carry-over from the regular-season matchups in suburban Detroit.
After winning at Boston in Game 7, the Pacers were left with only one day of rest before facing Detroit, which was off six days after eliminating Philadelphia in Game 5.
Indiana scored the first basket, then fell behind and couldn't do much about it.
O'Neal had a great start, then cooled down, finishing with 22 points. Jackson didn't score until early in the second quarter and finished with 15 points. Both players signed autographs for fans before the game.
The Pacers' Ron Artest, suspended for the rest of the season for his part in the brawl, is expected to practice with his teammates when they return to Indianapolis. Reggie Miller, who plans to retire after the season, scored just six points and struggled to stay with Hamilton. Jamaal Tinsley added 13 points for the Pacers.
Suns 127, Mavericks 102
Phoenix -- The Phoenix Suns are just too fast to gather any rust.
With Amare Stoudemire powering for career playoff highs of 40 points and 16 rebounds, the Suns blew past the Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Phoenix had not played in eight days after sweeping Memphis, but the Suns came out rested and running against the Mavericks, who were coming off a 40-point victory over Houston in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night.
Joe Johnson had 25 points and Shawn Marion 23 points and 11 rebounds in a game the Suns never trailed.