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Pistons Get Championship Rings as NBA Season Opens

The 2004-2005 National Basketball Association season is under way. The Detroit Pistons opened defense of their championship with a home victory Tuesday night over the Houston Rockets.

A sell-out crowd of more than 22,000 saw the Detroit Pistons raise their championship banner and receive their rings commemorating their surprise victory over the Los Angeles Lakers last June in the NBA finals.

Then the Pistons scored an 87-79 win over the Houston Rockets to begin the new season. Defensive star Ben Wallace scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots for Detroit.

"We went out there and I enjoyed the ceremony. You know I like the ring," he said. "I like everything that the organization did for us to make this night special for us. But the bottom line is after that is done you have to go out there and play basketball and that is what I tried to do."

In his debut with Houston alongside star Chinese center Yao Ming, last season's NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady - who was traded from Orlando - scored a team-high 18 points.

Two other games were played on the NBA's opening night. Without star center Shaquille O'Neal, who was traded to Miami in the off-season, Kobe Bryant scored 25 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an 89-78 win over the visiting Denver Nuggets. In Dallas, German Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points to lift the host Mavericks over the Sacramento Kings, 107-98.