Block Party at the Palace
Pistons have record setting night versus New Jersey
May 12 -- The people of Detroit are known for their blue-collar ethics. As spectators, they gravitate towards the hard-nosed play, whether it is a drawn charge, a dive for a loose ball or spectacular block.
It is no coincidence then that their beloved Pistons have adopted a style of basketball that fits the city's personality. The team whose motto is "Goin' to Work" has yielded the lowest defensive point per game average (87.2) in the NBA over the last three seasons. Opponents are often overwhelmed by Detroit's hard-nosed play, and while some could say it's not as pretty to watch as L.A.'s "Showtime," the Pistons handily defeated the Lakers in five games in The Finals last season.
This season, Detroit defensive dominance crystalized in one single contest -- a 100-90 home victory over New Jersey Dec. 27. In that game, Antonio McDyess, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace each recorded four rejections to account for all 16 of Detroit's blocks.
"It was a block party," Pistons center Ben Wallace told the Detroit Free Press. "Everyone was invited, but you had to have four to get in."
Added Pistons coach Larry Brown, "This is the first time in my life Iíve been on a team where four guys had four blocks, I canít ever remember that happening."
That's because it never had, at least since blocked shots became an official NBA statistic in 1973-74.
Making the performance even more impressive was the fact that the last time the Pistons blocked 16 shots in one game was on Nov. 26, 1982, against Portland. Overall, the Pistons ranked third in the league in blocks per game (6.06) this season. Incredibly, Wallace single-handedly recorded more blocks than the entire opposing team on 13 different occasions.
Because of efforts like these, Wallace was named Defensive Player of the Year, becoming only the second player in history to win the award three times. Not bad for a guy who was considered a throw-in by Orlando in the Grant Hill trade of 2000. After accepting the award for the 2004-05 season, Wallace said his temprament fits Detroit perfectly.
"With the workman mentality that I have and the workman mentality that the city has, it was an easy fit for me," Wallace told the Associated Press. "A lot of guys play in this league for a number of years and they never really find a place to call home. I can definitely say Detroit has opened its door for me and accepted me as a son."
Pistons general manager Joe Dumars noted that Wallace makes the Pistons tick.
"Every successful franchise has an identity and cornerstone-type players, and Ben has set the identity here and he's the cornerstone of what we do," Dumars told the Associated Press. "We hang our hat on defense."
While Detroit deserves mention as one of the best defensive franchises in NBA history, the honor of the league's most prolific shot-blocking team goes to the 1985-86 Washington Bullets. Led by a 7-7 Dinka tribesman, Manute Bol, the Bullets averaged 8.7 swats a night. Five of those blocks came from the rookie center Bol. In fact, just one other player on the team averaged more than one rejection per outing.
Coincidentally, it was Detroit and Washington which combined for the most blocks ever in a game Nov. 19, 1981, registering an incredible 34. Toronto holds the record for blocks by one team when the Raptors rejected 23 shots against Atlanta on March 23, 2001. Raptors pivot Keon Clark paced the effort with 12 swats.