What's On Tap
Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET)
What to Watch
The Indiana Pacers are learning a valuable lesson: rejection undermines confidence.
As the Detroit Pistons began batting away the Pacers' shots in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Indiana began to miss even uncontested shots. The Pistons won, 72-67, and finished with 19 blocks, one shy of a playoff record. Indiana's 27.5-percent shooting percentage was a playoff low for the franchise.
With the series tied 1-1, Detroit could continue to reap the benefits of their 19 blocks in Game 3 tonight if the Pacers haven't recovered mentally.
The correlation between blocked shots and an opponent's low shooting percentage is evident in Detroit's league-leading 6.9 blocks-per-game average and in the fact that it held opponents to the third-lowest shooting percentage (41.3%).
Detroit forward Ben Wallace was second in the league in blocked shots (3.04) and, along with Theo Ratliff, Dikembe Mutombo, Shawn Bradley, Shaquille O'Neal, and Marcus Camby, is one of only six players to have averaged more than three per game.
Rasheed Wallace, Elden Campbell and Tayshaun Prince, who tipped away an attempted layup by Reggie Miller late in Game 2 to preserve the Pistons' win, are shot-blocking threats.
Shot blocking is one of the few defensive plays that rivals scoring in excitement. It's the defensive equivalent of a dunk and players who can do it consistently are highly sought.
Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton averaged 5.56 blocks during the 1984-85 season. At 7-foot-4-inch, Eaton had few other skills than standing near the basket and flicking away shots. He was an auto mechanic for three years before taking up basketball, but he played 11 seasons.
Former Washington Bullet Manute Bol, who once blocked eight shots in a quarter in 1985, was a cattle herder in Africa before embarking on a 10-year NBA career.
Last Night's Big Winner (Team)
Los Angeles Lakers. All four of the team's future Hall of Famers were in double figures in a 100-89 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers shot 43 free throws (making 25 for 58.1 percent) compared to Minnesota's 14 (12 for 85.7 percent). The Lakers rebounded from a lackadaisical performance in Game 2 to shoot 51.5 percent.
Last Night's Big Loser (Team)
Minnesota Timberwolves. They shot 44.7 percent (40.9 percent from the three-point line) and played a solid game, only to lose. They simply lack the Lakers' depth.
Last Night's Big Winner (Player)
Gary Payton. Lakers guard led Lakers attack with 14 points in the first quarter and finished with 18 points and nine assists.
Last Night's Big Loser (Player)
Darrick Martin. Timberwolves reserve failed to come close to repeating his 15-point, six-assist performance in Game 2. Last night, he was held to zero points and one assist in 18 minutes.