On the night Ben Wallace set the record for most games by an undrafted NBA player, he turned back the clock.
Wallace scored a season-high nine points but, as usual, it was his defensive work that allowed the Pistons to rally against the red-hot San Antonio Spurs Tuesday. He held Tim Duncan to six second-half points and gave Duncan a cut under his eye with an inadvertent elbow but the Pistons still fell short, 99-95.
"When he's done playing, when he's retired, he's probably going to be recognized as the best forward to ever play the game," Wallace said. "Just having the opportunity to go out there and match up with him, night in and night out, as one of the best defenders, it's something I'm going to be able to look back and tell my kids. When they look at their history book and read that Tim Duncan was one of the best who ever did it, I can sit back and say, 'Man, we had some wars.'"
Wallace has been through plenty of interior wars and holds his own place in the NBA record book with four Defensive Player of the Year awards. He added another mark Tuesday by breaking Avery Johnson's record of 1,054 career games by an undrafted player since the 1976-77 NBA-ABA merger.
"He's a special man and we all know why. It's from the inside-out," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's certainly not because of his skills as an offensive player. It's because of his character and that character allows him to be the meanest man in the valley. Persistent, consistent, a team player, someone any coach would love to have. It's kind of interesting that he broke Avery's record, because they're built the same way. Neither was the most talented guy in the world but they got the most out of what they have and they're an inspiration to their teams."
Wallace threw in something unexpected when he made the seventh three-pointer of his 16-year career during the fourth-quarter comeback.
"The way it was going, it had about a 90 percent chance of going in, just the whole situation," Duncan said. "We played good defense for 23 seconds and we leave one guy open that we don't think can hit it and he makes it. He made a couple of plays that really got them back in the game."
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank believes Wallace, who will retire at the end of the season, has made a solid case for the Hall of Fame.
"He's a champion and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year," he said. "Without a doubt, he has the credentials to be Hall of Fame-worthy."
He'll add to his latest record when the Pistons play at Boston Wednesday.
"I'm going to play this thing out," he said. "I ain't going to limp or crawl out."
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