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When it comes to all-time blocked shots leaders in Cavaliers history, there are three great big men and there’s everybody else. At the top of that list is the man the organization will honor this Saturday night when his uniform No. 11 is raised to the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas established himself as the best shot-blocking big in franchise history on March 22, 2009 – one day after scoring his 10,000th career point in a win over Atlanta.
In the Atlanta game, Big Z reached the 10,000-point plateau in rather pedestrian fashion, canning a first-half free throw. But Big Z went all-out in breaking the blocked shot benchmark, previously held by Hot Rod Williams.
Against New Jersey in the Meadowlands, Ilgauskas led both teams with four swats – doubling the Nets’ total that afternoon. On the night, Z went 9-for-14 from the floor for 18 points to go with six boards. The Cavaliers would go on to win that game, 96-88 – their ninth straight victory.
Those four blocks put Big Z at 1,202 for his career. And he’d eventually go on to sit atop the all-time list at 1,269. Hot Rod Williams finished with an even 1,200 and Larry Nance – whose uniform No. 22 was retired in 1995 – sits in third with 1,087. The next player down is LeBron James with 482. In terms of active Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao is creeping up the list, currently with 374.
Ilgauskas came into that record-breaking game on a roll, averaging 15.8 points and 6.5 boards per contest in the previous four games – and notching double-figure scoring and five more blocks in his next three. The Cavaliers would go on to run their win streak to 12 games before falling to the Wizards in Washington one week later.
As for Big Z, he started every game for the remainder of 2008-09 season (except the final affair to prep for the postseason) – swatting 17 more shots along the way.