After teammates back up Guaransheed, Rasheed Wallace steps up

You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered.

We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night.

So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.

Indiana Pacers 78 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Detroit Pistons
Chauncey Billups, PG 39 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTSBillups’ game left little room for praise or consternation.
Richard Hamilton, SG 44 MIN | 7-19 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTSHamilton has never been much more than a mediocre defender hidden well on an excellent team. But his work against Reggie Miller, who is admittedly well into his decline, continues to impress.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 28 MIN | 1-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTSPrince struggledon both ends. Artest shot 4-9 and earned all six of his free throws with Prince covering him compared to 0-4 and no visits to the line against all other defenders.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 41 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTSAfter a miserable pair of shooting nights in Indiana, Sheed started hitting some shots in this one. He didn’t do a great job of boxing out Austin Croshere or defending Al Harrington most of the night, but he did tip Harrington’s final shot with 19 seconds remaining to ice the win.

Ben Wallace, C 43 MIN | 7-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTSBen Wallace was again the Pistons’ best player. He severely outplayed, Jermaine O’Neal who was 5-13 with Ben on the floor.
Corliss Williamson, PF 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTSWilliamson put clamps on Artest and the Pistons outscored the Pacers 32-18 with him on the floor.

Lindsey Hunter, PG 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS
Mehmet Okur, C 11 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSOkur missed all three shots, contributed nothing else, provided little resistance against O’Neal, and the Pistons were outscored 16-8 with him on the floor.  
Mike James, PG 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTSJames hustled as much as ever and was pesky on defense, but it doesn’t make up for giving the ball away every three minutes.  
Darvin Ham, SF 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTSThe Pistons amassed nine points and ten turnovers in the second quarter. Ham and James were major reasons why.  
Larry Brown, Head Coach
The Pistons had an 11-point lead with just over four minutes to go. That looked like it should easily hold up given the rate at which these teams were scoring. Then the Pacers put together a 10-0 run over the next two minutes and change. Rasheed saved the game down the stretch, but the Pistons worked too hard to steal home court advantage to be giving it back this easily. On the plus side, we have a wildly entertaining series with every game thus far coming down to the wire. And the Pistons are up.

-Tim Thielke

From the frontlines

The Pistons, for better or worse, rode Rasheed Wallace’s highs and lows from 2004-09. That tended to go better earlier in his Detroit tenure, but even 2004 was not a perfect honeymoon.

After guaranteeing the Pistons would win Game 2 of the Pacers series, Wallace really struggled in that contest. He appeared to be putting too much pressure on himself as he missed 15 shots.

But Wallace rebounded with a superb Game 3.

It’s unclear exactly what changed, but an oft-cited North Carolina connection often helped Larry Brown reach Wallace.

Brown and Wallace both played for Dean Smith and both hold him in the highest regard. Brown later coached under Smith, and Wallace remained on his best behavior in Chapel Hill.

Two members of Brown’s 2004 staff – Dave Hanners and Pat Sullivan – coached Wallace at North Carolina, and a third – John Kuester – also had Tar Heel ties.

Brown didn’t rest on those shared connections, though. He also took active steps to help Wallace with his infamous temper. According to Hanners, Brown often tried to get a technical foul himself when he sensed Wallace was getting upset. That way, Wallace would stay in the game and more composed.

Put it all together, and there was never any worry in 2004 about Wallace losing his cool for prolonged stretches. He had a bad Game 2, but that in no way prevented him from excelling in Game 3.

“We had all this history with him,” Hanners said. “I think he always felt Coach Smith was there with him, because we were all there. And I think the way Larry handled him – that’s, again, going nuclear before Rasheed did – always calmed him down. All that stuff made Rasheed believe in Larry tremendously.”

-Dan Feldman

Up next

The roller coaster continues for these Pistons.

From the series against New Jersey to this one, it feels like every game has resulted in a different type of drama. That’s not always a bad thing — this team didn’t exactly shy away from that — but who would have thought that they’d be here, at this point, two wins away from the NBA Finals?

Their backs weren’t necessarily against the wall, but going into Game 4 with a 2-1 lead would obviously have been better than trailing. I guaransheed this series still has a few more ups and downs before it’s all said and done, starting with Game 4 on May 28.

- Brady Fredericksen

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