Sorry Jeremy Lin, but Ben Wallace is about to become the NBA’s new king of the overlooked players.
When entered the game for the Pistons late in the first quarter Sunday against Washington it was his 1,054 game, tying him with Avery Johnson for the most games ever played by an undrafted player since the NBA/ABA merger, something first pointed out at Mlive.com.
Wallace should break the record on Tuesday when the Pistons play the Spurs.
(To be fair, Moses Malone was not drafted in the NBA, but he was by the ABA. He went on to play 1,329 NBA games and 1,455 total.)
Wallace was almost unnoticed coming out of high school in Alabama and went to Virginia Union University. There he played two years but wasn’t really blowing anyone’s doors off, averaging 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. He didn’t bring crazy athleticism or great statistics out of college. But the then Washington Bullets gave him a shot, and he got in 34 games as a rookie.
Wallace never averaged even 10 points a game, but what can do — defend the paint, grab some boards — he does as well as anyone. He is a four-time defensive player of the year and a four-time All-Star. The Pistons don’t win the 2004 NBA crown without him anchoring the middle on one of the best defensive teams ever in the NBA.
For NBA role players, they need to do a lot of things pretty well or one thing exceedingly well. Wallace did one thing — play defense in the paint — at an elite level. He covered a lot of mistakes and anchored great teams.
Not bad at all for a guy who slipped under NBA scouts radar.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.