Yao Ming is a foot taller than Chuck Hayes, and that's no figure of speech - he's literally a whole foot taller, 7'6 versus 6'6. That makes Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol each six inches taller than Hayes. And don't forget about Lamar Odom (four inches taller), Josh Powell (five inches taller), Trevor Ariza (one inch taller), and Kobe Bryant (the same height). Chuck was the third shortest starter on the floor for the opening tip of Game 4. Take all of that into consideration, and then tell yourself who played taller than everyone else on Sunday afternoon.
That's right: it's the Chuckwagon.
Chuck defied all logic. He made Pau Gasol look more inept offensively than Marc Gasol. He made Phil Jackson afraid to put Andrew Bynum on the floor. He had four steals, three on post-entry passes, making it difficult to even get the ball inside, much less try to score. He even had two assists and a blocked shot to go with nine rebounds. Yeah, he only scored two points - so what. That's not why he is out there.
If you watched a few Lakers games this season, you may have noticed that quick spin move that Gasol uses against his opponent. Commentators praise him for it. Chuck couldn't care less. He shut down Gasol by shuffling his feet rapidly on the first move and forcing Pau to use a jump hook or turnaround jumper at the exact point where he caught the pass. If Gasol was going to go anywhere, it was backwards, because he wasn't about to gain any ground in the paint. Not on Chuck's watch.
Hey Michael Lewis - what gives, man? Where is Chuck Hayes' eye-opening article? You think Shane Battier doesn't have any stats? Chuck gets on the floor for twelve minutes a night while scoring one point per game. He must be doing some incredible things out there. And yet you go with Battier. Terrible.
But now the Lakers have seen thirty minutes of Hayes, and they'll be sure to adjust. This most likely leaves two distinct possibilities. First, the Lakers could simply ignore him on defense. We caught a glimpse of that in the fourth quarter. It's tough, as an NBA player, to accept leaving an opposing player wide open on each possession, but it may be a viable solution in this case. As long as Gasol is close enough to Hayes to recover, he will probably leave a big gap between himself and Chuck in an attempt to show help on pick and rolls, as well as shorten the distance that his teammates have to cover in order to help them close out on Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks more. If this were to happen, we could look to Hayes as an option for layups and see how L.A. would respond if he were to score a few buckets in a row.
Secondly, we could see some "Hack-a-Hayes", as Chuck may have the worst free throw stroke of anyone in the NBA. While it is as entertaining to watch as anything else in basketball, a Hayes free-throw extravaganza is the last thing the Rockets want to see. We would have to limit Chuck's playing time and give more minutes to Carl Landry, who is not as talented defensively.
However, I'd be surprised to see Phil Jackson surrender his team to Chuck so easily. We're talking about the Los Angeles Lakers, winners of fourteen NBA championships, and their best player, Kobe Bryant, admitting that the best course of action for them to win is to foul a guy who scores one point per game. They're the number one seed. They won 60+ games this season. And they're going to resort to hoping that Chuck Hayes won't make his free throws? Please. You may see this once, maybe even twice, but the Lakers are not the Spurs. They won't abandon their pride.
It's great to see Chuck come through with such a great performance in Game 4. He'll have to keep it up and stay on the floor for the Rockets to have a chance to move on. Looks like Dave made his bold Chuck Hayes prediction one series too early.