The Detroit Pistons have always taken pride in their defense. They have had a lot to proud of lately.
Detroit will try to extend its NBA record for holding opponents under 70 points to five games as it hosts the surging Philadelphia 76ers, who have won a season-high four straight games.
The Pistons extended their NBA record by routing the Chicago Bulls 98-65 on Wednesday night.
“This is a lot of fun,” said Rasheed Wallace, who scored 18 points. “We’re playing basketball the right way. Every guy on the team is doing their jobs.”
The Pistons are the first team since the shot clock was implemented in 1954-55 to have a streak of more than two games, and have won the four games by an average of 25 points.
“We didn’t go out there to set any records—we’re just trying to play the best basketball we can,” Wallace said. “We can still improve quite a bit, but once we get our nooks and crannies ironed out, we’re going to be heavy contenders.”
Detroit has won eight of nine since acquiring Wallace from Atlanta in a trade.
“I haven’t heard our guys talking about the record, but I know they take a lot of pride in the defense,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “We’ve gotten so much better now that we have Ben (Wallace) and Rasheed’s length back there. Our mind-set is to defend.”
While the Pistons have been winning with defense, the 76ers have been finding ways to win without Allen Iverson and Glenn Robinson. The emergence of Kenny Thomas has been a huge reason for Philadelphia’s recent success.
Thomas hit a pair of game-tying shots, each with less than a second left, and had 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead the 76ers to a 99-94 double-overtime win over New York on Friday night.
The Sixers are a game out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
“We have gotten back into the swing of things,” Thomas said.
Thomas has led Philadelphia’s surge, recording his 10th straight double-double—the first Sixer to accomplish that since Charles Barkley in 1990.
“It’s definitely inspiring,” said guard Eric Snow, who scored 19 in Friday’s win. “He’s playing a great deal of minutes and deservedly so. He’s playing tremendous. He’s by far playing the best on the team.”
Thomas has gotten a lot more touches lately with Iverson and Robinson out with injuries. Iverson missed his third straight game on Friday with a knee injury, and Robinson was placed on the injured list with an elbow injury.
STANDINGS (through March 12): 76ers - 5th place, 13 GB, Atlantic Division. Pistons - 2nd place, 8 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: 76ers - Iverson, 27.0 ppg; Thomas, 10.3 rpg; Snow, 7.0 apg. Pistons - Hamilton, 18.0 ppg; Ben Wallace, 13.1 rpg; Billups, 5.4 apg.
SEASON SERIES: 76ers, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 23; Pistons, 76-66. At Philadelphia, Hamilton scored 15 points and Prince added 14 as the Pistons held the 76ers to their second-lowest point total since 1954-55. Thomas had 10 points and 18 rebounds for Philadelphia, which shot 30.1 percent (25-for-83) from the field.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: 76ers - 11-22 on the road; Pistons - 22-10 at home.