HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Gerald Wallace is an offensive player.
The man known as “Crash” is mostly thought of as an elite defender and strong rebounder for a small forward. But when he arrived in Portland last February, Wallace gave the Blazers’ offense a huge boost. His new team scored a ridiculously efficient 112 points per 100 possessions when Wallace was on the floor after the trade that brought him from Charlotte.
On Thursday, the Blazers torched the Lakers, who had been a pretty strong defensive team to date, for 107 points in about 94 possessions on Thursday. Wallace led all scorers with 31 points on 13-for-19 from the field, while also defending Kobe Bryant most of the night.
The Rose Garden always gets hyped when the Lakers visit, but Wallace was the spark on the floor on Thursday, as Joe Freeman writes in The Oregonian.
Wallace, in particular, was a beast. From the opening quarter to the final horn, he harassed Bryant on defense, scored in a variety of ways on offense and electrified the sellout Rose Garden crowd. In the highlight of the night, Wallace gathered a long outlet pass from Marcus Camby on a wide open fast-break attempt and hammered down a windmill dunk.
Wallace scored 10 important points in the first quarter, when the game resembled a track meet more than a basketball game, and he added 10 more in the third quarter, when the Blazers seized control of the game. Wallace hit three pointers, bulldozed defenders into the key for layups and ran the break with equal success.
“That’s his game,” McMillan said. “I think you’ve got to let Gerald go and allow him to just the freedom to play. His hustle, his energy, we feed off of that.”
In the other locker room, Bryant was pretty effusive with his praise of Wallace…
“I love Gerald,” Bryant said. “Gerald’s been working on his game, worked on his outside shooting, his ball-handling, his defense. He’s been a tremendous player. He’s just been below the radar.”
Portland now ranks fourth in the league offensive efficiency, scoring 106 points per 100 possessions. Wallace is shooting 55 percent from the field, and ranks 10th in the league in true shooting percentage among those who have attempted at least 50 shots. He’s has been doing his work inside, with 48 of his 69 shots coming from within five feet of the rim.
- StatsCube: Gerald Wallace shooting locations
If Wallace keeps this up, LaMarcus Aldridge won’t be the only Portland forward who deserves All-Star consideration.