Wallace to Challenge Howard at the Basket in Game 2
Or maybe both.
The Bobcats are coming at him -- even stronger -- in Game 2.
"Nobody on this team is afraid to attack the basket, or attack him,'' said Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace Monday after a short workout. "He's a shot blocker. We're a team that attacks the rim. We can play above the rim just like he does.''
Instead of being deterred by Howard's nine blocked shots in Game 1 -- which led to a 98-89 Magic victory -- they are buoyed by the foul trouble that limited him to just 28 minutes and allowed them to almost steal a win in the closing minutes.
Wallace had 25 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1, which was 20 points and 10 rebounds more than Howard, who led the NBA for the second consecutive season in both rebounds and blocked shots.
"Obviously, he did a great job with nine blocks, but it didn't stop us from going to the basket. He won't affect the way we attack,'' Wallace said. "No one is afraid that he's a bully, or a factor under the basket.''
Howard finished one block short of the NBA playoff record, set by Mark Eaton of Utah in 1985, then matched by Hakeem Olajuwon five years later. He eight blocks in the first half, but he played only 11 minutes in the second half.
"We like attacking the rim, whether he's there or not,'' concurred teammate Stephen Jackson. "It's impossible to block every shot, so we'll keep coming at him. We got him in foul trouble. We're not settling for jump shots.''
Jackson will be back in the lineup Wednesday for Game 2, despite being held out of practice Monday with a bone bruise on his left knee. He was hurt just before halftime of Game 1, but he returned in the second half, then had another MRI done Monday morning.
"It's sore, but it won't change the way I play,'' he said. "I've got two days to rest it, and I'll be ready to play.''
Jackson and Wallace might be the most aggressive wing combination of players in the NBA, often relentless in the way they play, the biggest reason the Bobcats have reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Wallace, now in his ninth season, became an NBA All-Star earlier this year for the first time. Jackson narrowly has missed that honor a few times. Together, they took 20 free throws Sunday in Game 1, a number that is expected to rise in Game 2.
"We will keep going at him. If he blocks 20 shots, he blocks 20 shots,'' Wallace said. "But he'll have to work for it.''