By Nadia Sellers
(Auburn Hills)—The Detroit Pistons continue to be one of the more enigmatic stories of this NBA season…a team without a superstar, without great size or speed, but one which just keeps piling up the victories.
The New Citizens Press caught the Pistons in action last week in a home game against the Boston Celtics.
Boston came to Motown short-handed…with All-Star forward Antoine Walker on the disabled list with a sprained right knee.
An announced crowd of nearly 17,500 at the Palace of Auburn Hills witnessed a seesaw 1st quarter with eight lead changes and three ties, before the Pistons put on a final spurt and ended the quarter leading 25-to-22.
Quarter number two saw the defensive intensity turned up by both teams…shooting percentages for the teams were up, but the number of shots they could get off were down, and consequently scoring by the Pistons and Celtics fell off. Detroit went to the locker room at the halftime break leading Boston by six…44-to-38.
Piston center Ben Wallace says Coach Rick Carlisle told the team at half time to hit the boards harder after intermission. “Coach wasn’t real pleased with our rebounding effort in the first half, so he emphasized crashing the boards in the second half,” said Wallace.
Detroit added to its lead in the third quarter, and going into the final period, the Pistons had boosted their lead to nine over the Celtics.
Perhaps it was fatigue, a lack of focus, or a combination…but the Pistons came out very lackluster in the 4th quarter. Boston tied the game 74-74. Although the Pistons re-gained the lead it was only by (1) point.…84-to-83…with 10 seconds left to play.
But then, Detroit got a break on a jump ball and guard Chauncey Billups was intentionally fouled, then hit two free throws to make the final score Pistons 86 – Celtics 83.
Following the game, Wallace told the New Citizens Press that he’s looking forward to starting at Center for the Eastern Conference in the upcoming NBA All-Star in Atlanta. “It’s a great honor to be selected by the fans to start in the All-Star game. I’m gonna have fun, but play real hard to represent the Eastern squad and the Pistons.”
Wallace, the NBA leading rebounder in the league at 6’9” Wallace will have his hands full at center in the All-Star game…going up against the starting center for the Western Conference, 7’6” Yao Ming, of the Houston Rockets.
February 9, 2003 – February 22, 2003 Edition