Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor
Gerald Wallace, Brooklyn Nets
Gerald Wallace did not have a good game.
He continues to struggle offensively (like the rest of the Nets) and finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting (1-of-5 from three). Chicago was obviously playing off him when it had the opportunity to double Brook Lopez or Deron Williams, and he did nothing to make the Bulls second-guess themselves.
His defense was solid (as per usual), but it wasn't great. He was victimized by screens more than we're used to seeing and forced to go under instead of fight through them.
When the Bulls weren't able to set screens to create space, Wallace played some top-notch on-ball defense. More than a decade into his career, he's still forcing opponents to pick up their dribble mid drive and either take a low-percentage shot, or get rid of the ball.
The problem? He's become so much of a non-factor on offense that the Nets are forced to essentially play three-on-five when him and Reggie Evans are on the floor. Brooklyn needs him to hit more of his open threes, not unlike he did to end the first half.
Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls needed offense (they always do), so Luol Deng gave them offense.
He didn't shoot especially well from the floor (9-of-23), but that he kept shooting at all is what's important. Just as important as his 21 points.
Deng was a nightmare for Wallace to guard. As alluded to previously, Crash is able to coerce opposing wings to pick up their dribble mid drive, usually goading them into a long two. Well, Deng lives off long twos, and premature pull-ups are like his signature move.
Chicago milked the hell of Deng in the second half, but he didn't force the action (much). He kept the ball moving and passed out of double-teams well.
I don't have to tell you he excelled defensively, because you already know. When he wasn't suffocating the ball-handler, he was closing out on otherwise open jump shots. He chipped in 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals as well.
This was one of those games that made all of Chicago exhale and say, "Damn, thank God he's on our team."