CHICAGO - P.J. Carlesimo needed only three words to describe his team's bench play in the postseason.
"Way above average,'' the Nets' interim coach said before Game 6 against the Bulls Thursday night.
Considered one of their strengths all season, the Nets' bench didn't let them down through the first five games of the series. They haven't quite posted the gaudy numbers that Chicago has, getting outscored 200-128. But 69 of those Chicago points belonged to Nate Robinson, who exploded for 34 off the pine in the Bulls' triple-overtime win here in Game 4 six days ago.
"The other night, I thought Kris and Dray, those two gave us really productive minutes in a lot of different ways,'' Carlesimo said. "They did a good job defensively, they rebounded, they scored points and they scored points in the paint.''
Wallace's play key
Gerald Wallace questioned his role on the team again just last week, but he's apparently starting to settle in. Wallace has cranked his game up a bit during the playoffs, averaging 10.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists through the first five games.
He believes the Nets are a better team when he's aggressive. "I think so,'' he said. "I give them another option, another threat. So that opens up a lot more things for everybody elseWe are able to do more offensively, so my main thing is just stay aggressive and focusing on what I can do to help this team win.''
Blatche played through a right calf injury suffered in Game 4 before aggravating it in Game 5. He hoped to feel at least 90 percent healthy by the time things tipped off. "It's sore, but it's all right.''