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“It was picture perfect for me,” Smith said. “Just being able to get out there and see the fans cheering the basketball team on, staying engaged for the whole game.”

Although there were pockets of empty seats in the upper level, there was more energy at the Palace than on almost any night last season. Pistons owner Tom Gores was seated courtside, and for one game at least, his revamped team gave fans reason for optimism.

“It feels like old times,” Billups said. “The energy in this building sounded familiar. I hadn’t seen that in a while around here. It felt really good.”

NOTES: The Wizards went 7-34 on the road last season. … Gigi Datome, an Italian star who joined the Pistons this offseason, played only the last 19 seconds. … Detroit outscored Washington 32-8 in the paint in the first half.