PHILADELPHIA, April 8 (Ticker) --
The Detroit Pistons got their first
extended look at life without Ben Wallace
and did not like what
NBA TV highlights from|
The absence of the injured Wallace left the Pistons practically
defenseless inside in a 91-74 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers,
who got 37 points from Allen Iverson
Wallace, the NBA leader in rebounds and blocks per game and the
2002 Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a sprained left MCL
late in the first half of Sunday's loss to San Antonio. Although
an MRI revealed no tear, he is expected to miss the rest of the
That does not bode well for the Pistons, who relinquished the
top spot in the Eastern Conference with Sunday's loss. The 6-9
Wallace's ability to dominate the defensive backboard is a big
reason why Detroit is challenging for its second straight
Central Division title.
With Wallace on the sidelines, the 76ers - who are among the NBA
leaders in points in the paint - fearlessly attacked the
basket. They were led by Iverson, who repeatedly drove inside,
creating offense for himself and his teammates.
"We weren't able to keep them out of the paint and we weren't
able to keep them from laying the ball in in the first half and
it didn't get much better in the second," Pistons coach Rick
Carlisle said. "I like to say that it was all because Ben
Wallace wasn't in there but the bottom line is that we got to do
a better job of containing the ball both on an individual basis
and as a team."
"I'd be lying to you if I said the game wasn't different with
him not in there," Iverson said. "Last time we played them, he
had like nine blocks and probably eight of them was on me. It
is a big difference not having him in there. When he's not
blocking shots, he's frustrating guys by making them put the
shot a little higher, or shooting it a little harder and just
contesting a lot of shots. He's big with offensive and
defensive rebounds. It's a totally different team without him."
A team considered a bit on the small side, Philadelphia had 52
points in the paint and outrebounded Detroit, 42-27.
"You give up 52 points in the paint you're not going to win in
this league. It's as simple as that," Carlisle said.
"Shot blocking is a huge stat, not only the potential blocks
where you make guys pull up and take jump shots. That's a very
big part of any team's success. You look at why we were one of
the better defensive teams in the league prior to this season
because we had shot blocking."
scored 16 points and Richard Hamilton
for the Pistons (47-30), who have lost four straight games.
Their lead over Indiana remained one game.
"It's going to be tough without your top rebounder and shot
blocker," Robinson said. "We got to find a way to keep guys out
of the paint. We can't let them to drive by us and expect us to
win the game."
Iverson had been playing through bursitis in his left knee but
appeared to have much more hop in his step. He made 13-of-23
shots, handed out eight assists and had one steal, breaking
Steve Mix's team single-season record of 212.
"It isn't getting any better but it isn't getting any worse,"
Iverson said. "It has been feeling the same for the last two or
three days. It just keeps getting bigger. They talked about
draining it today, but I didn't let it happen."
Mix, a 6-7 forward in his day and now an analyst for 76ers' TV
broadcasts, shared an embrace with Iverson during a timeout.
"I was joking with him about it before the game," Iverson said.
"I wondered how he could he hold a record like that. He wanted
me to get it the last game and he congratulated me after the
had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Sixers
(46-31), who snapped a two-game slide. With five games to play,
they are two games behind New Jersey atop the Atlantic
Detroit hung around for slightly more than a quarter, trailing
25-22 after one period. But Philadelphia scored 14 points in the
paint, a sign of things to come.
In a 9-0 run midway through the second period, Iverson had a
layup, a dunk and a pair of assists that led to easy baskets as
the Sixers opened a 41-31 lead. Eric Snow's
40-footer at the
horn provided a 54-43 halftime advantage.
"You can do whatever what you want to with the tempo," Carlisle
said. "But if they're getting in the paint and laying the ball
in and dishing it off for dunks, you are not going to have a
After scoring 20 points in the paint in the second period, the
Sixers had 12 more in the third. Iverson had two more layups
and Thomas a dunk in a 9-2 spurt that opened the second half and
widened the bulge to 63-45.
Detroit got no closer than 14 points thereafter.
"Iverson is the quickest guy off the dribble in the league,"
Pistons guard Chauncey Billups
said. "The same problem we had
tonight, every other team that faces him has. The one
difference was we didn't have Ben back there."
had 10 points and four steals for Philadelphia.
Chauncey Billups had 12 points and 10 assists for Detroit, which
shot just 39 percent (25-of-64)