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Ben Wallace named top defensive player

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Saturday, April 20

Pistons' Wallace wins award in a landslide

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Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons was a nearly unanimous choice as NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday after becoming just the fourth player to lead the league in rebounding and shot blocking.

In the most lopsided count in the award's history, Wallace received 116 of 120 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Kevin Garnett, Dikembe Mutombo and Kobe Bryant received the other four votes.

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Wallace averaged 13.0 rebounds and 3.48 blocks. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Hakeem Olajuwon also have topped the NBA in both categories in the same season.

Wallace is the first player other than Mutombo or Alonzo Mourning to win the award since 1995-96.

He helped the Pistons win their first Central Division title in 12 seasons.

Abdul-Jabbar led the NBA in rebounding (16.9) and blocks (4.12) in 1975-76, Walton led the league in rebounding (14.4) and blocks (3.25) in 1976-77, while Olajuwon led the NBA in both categories in 1989-90 (14.0 and 4.59).

Wallace, who finished fifth last year with six votes, is the first Pistons player to win the award since Dennis Rodman in 1991.

Wallace also led the club's defensive surge as Detroit held their opponents to an average of 92.2 points, sixth in the NBA, this season compared to 97.3 just a year ago. The Pistons also finished best in the NBA in blocks with 565.

Wallace grabbed an NBA season-high 28 rebounds in a 109-101 win over Boston on March 24 and blocked an NBA season-high 10 shots on Feb. 24 at Milwaukee. The six-year NBA veteran, who went undrafted out of Virginia Union in 1996, averaged just 7.6 points, but shot 53.1 percent from the field.

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