Gerald Wallace dropped 29 points on 10-18 shooting on the Utah Jazz's vaunted frontcourt on Thursday as the Portland Trail Blazers racked up a 98-87 win. Marcus Camby sat with a sore neck, allowing Nate McMillan to start Wallace at power forward with LaMarcus Aldridge at center and Nicolas Batum at small forward. The Blazers have had mixed results with both this smaller lineup and the most traditional version with Camby at center, Wallace at small forward and Batum coming off the bench.
But there was little question that the smaller version would work against Utah. The Jazz essentially start two power forwards in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, and while Jefferson has become a good shotblocker and remains a solid defensive rebounder, it's just not an imposing defensive frontcourt. Wallace proved that by shredding Millsap; Crash did a lot of his damage from the perimeter, but got to the line and hit the offensive boards.
Batum had a nice game too, with 21 points on 9-13 shooting. Rudy Fernandez continues to struggle off the bench, and that will hurt Portland in the NBA Playoffs. But Brandon Roy perked up, hitting five of eight shots for 11 points in 21 minutes. In the Western Conference, there's no reserve player as capable of being an unbridled star from game to game, not even presumptive Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom or Mavericks gunner Jason Terry. Roy isn't even a shell of his peak self right now, but he's still mightily skilled, incredibly smart and talented as hell. That could swing a game, and a game can swing a series.
Gordon Hayward shot just 1-5 from the field, but earned eight free throws. Who is this guy, and what did he do with Gordon Hayward?