Gerald Wallace stepped on Linas Kleiza's foot in the first half, apparently spraining his ankle. From that point on, he limped his way to one of the best defensive games he's played all season. While he's hasn't exactly endeared himself to thinking fans with his comments disparaging teammates, he's proven that he's still capable of playing at an All Star level.
Game thread comment, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENT
WhatAboutBob_cats -- Shaun Livingston may be the best YMCA player I've ever seen. (DA -- Zing!)
-- We got Bad Stephen Jackson tonight. He struggled with foul trouble and with finding his shot, ending with 7 points on 3-8 shooting before fouling out having played only 25 minutes.
-- D.J. Augustin's total game was fine -- he only turned it over once -- but his shooting has to be a major concern. After shooting 0-8 against the Celtics, he shot 4-12 tonight. What happened? Is he simply going through a slump right now, or is the team doing something that keeps him from achieving his career norms?
-- Crash put up 16 points on 5-7 shooting, made possible by shooting 6-10 from the free throw line. While he only got 4 rebounds and 3 assists, he did get 4 blocks and basically shut down Kleiza and Sonny Weems. (PS: 44 minutes is kind of excessive, isn't it?)
-- Kwame Brown and Nazr Mohammed combined to put together a monster game. They didn't play together, so it can be fairly said that they combined to play 38 minutes, during which they shot 13-19 for 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots, for good measure.
-- Tyrus Thomas, coming off injury, shot 6-12 for 14 points (gotta get to the line more often, somehow), but also had 7 boards and two blocks, all in 21 minutes. I've said all along that he ought to shoot less, but even this version of TT deserves a lot more playing time than he's gotten all year.
-- Larry Brown shook things up a bit by having his second unit play an aggressive trap for long stretches, which briefly discombobulated the Raps and more than made up for the silliness of playing Boris Diaw at "shooting guard" for a couple of scary minutes early on. In recent years, NBA coaches have taken the "bench player" notion to ridiculous heights, elevating it to a level close to an actual position (eg: Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Manu Ginobili, Ben Gordon). However, that trope obscures the very real strategic advantage some coaches gain by deploying their bench units in a style very unlike their starting units. Most notably, the Lakers have, in recent years, stocked their bench with guys who would push the tempo to Suns-like speeds, wearing down any opposing starters unfortunate enough to be left in the game late in the first and third quarters. Our guys can do something similar, but on defense. When any combination of our 6-7/6-8 benchies are on the floor, they have the kind of quickness and length that lends itself well to a press or a half-court trap. Even if it's just for a few minutes, adding that extra wrinkle might wring a few more points out of the game, and this is a team that needs every tiny edge it can get.