It continues to feel like we are better than a 7-12 team. We have toughness, resilience. We scrape and claw...and then never quite have enough. And the gods haven't been smiling. Tonight we are in a 4th quarter dogfight, Joerger almost waits too long to put back in Cuz for the final 7 minutes, then he does and we will win or lose on whether he carries us home (given Rudy completely letting us down again)....and in under a minute he's out of the game after his own man (Ty) cuts open his eye and sends him tot he lockerroom. While he's out the lead balloons, threatens to get out of control, but he returns just in time to lead us right back into the dogfight, and hits a three to make it a one possession game again in the final minute. At which point we again come up short. We just need some extra spark, one extra player with the offensive talent to give us a critical boost. Link to Boxscore Starters Featured Grade Gay ( C- ) -- Rudy really struggled tonight with his shot, especially anything outside of 12 feet. I'd like to say that Jay Crowder had a lot to do with it, but in fact, Rudy missed a lot of wide open shots. He started the game by missing an open three from the left wing and followed that by driving from the top of the three point line and getting the ball stolen. He finally scored by attacking from the left wing and hitting a floarter. At the other end, he lost Crowder, found him, did a run out which Crowder side stepped and hit a fifteen footer. Gay then answered by missing a fifteen footer at the other end. He finally scored his second basket by blowing past two defenders and slamming home a dunk. I won't bore you with more of the same. Gay did manage to hit a timely three at the 4:49 mark of the fourth quarter, but that was the last of his few contributions on the night. I thought he looked a step slow all night on defense. He did pull down eight boards. On a night when Cousins was struggling, we really needed Gay to step up. Didn't happen! --Baja 34min 28pts (10-26 2-7 6-8) 9reb 3ast 1stl 4blk 2To Cousins ( B- ) -- largely walled off from the paint and could not shoot, and with no Rudy option, it hurt. But this grade was bolstered by strong interior defensive work, some good passes to beat the doubles, and a second half offensive surge that you could really feel, In fact when he had to leave the game in the 4th for his eye, those minutes may have lost us the game. 9min 0pts (0-0 0-0 0-0) 3reb 0ast 0stl 0blk 1To Koufos ( F ) -- complete fish out of water gave us absolutely nothing as we got off to our customary bad start. Bad enough that Joerger trusted Willie with the backup 5 minutes instead of Kosta. 17min 5pts (2-4 0-0 1-2) 3reb 2ast 2stl 0blk 0To Afflalo ( D+ ) -- guarded tightly, but just not giving us anything offensively. Played solidly enough other than the scoring, but part of low energy starting crew spotting the C's our nightly lead. 28min 13pts (4-8 1-3 4-4) 0reb 3ast 2stl 0blk 1To Collison ( C ) -- remains oddly reluctant to attack offensively, and when Rudy is sharing in Ty's stash, we need him. Just minimally involved on offense for long stretches. On the other end part of a PG trio that did a nice job harassing IT, but was the one finally vicitmized int he 4th as IT started flopping and getting calls. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Bench 31min 12pts (3-11 1-4 5-6) 16reb 5ast 2stl 1blk 2TO Barnes ( A- ) -- could not hit his shots on a night when we needed somebody to, but this was good Matt giving us a big boost of energy from the moment he arrived. He got on the glass (tying his career high with 16), and made a number of good plays saving shots and disrupting. 27min 7pts (2-9 1-2 2-3) 5reb 1ast 0stl 1blk 0TO Casspi ( C ) -- brought energy as part of the bench crew who picked us up, but not necessarily competence. The 2-9 shooting holds the grade back but is a little deceptive as no fewer than 4 of those misses came on one possession as he blew layups, and he blew another one later in the game. 12min 6pts (3-5 0-0 0-0) 1reb 0ast 0stl 0blk 0TO Cauley-Stein ( C- ) -- we're starting to find him now for athletic dunks and it gave him something to do in the first half here as he was the center of the comeback bench. But everything else was shaky again, the only rebound literally fell right at his feet with nobody within 8 feet, and late in the game he looked clumsy as Horford rejected another attmpt at a finish at the rim. 21min 8pts (3-7 0-2 2-2) 3reb 4ast 1stl 1blk 3TO Lawson ( B+ ) -- eventually ran out of steam and lack of shooting began to damage us, but a key guy in setting the scrappy tone here as he came in, got right up in Isaiah's shirt, and along with Barnes was a prime reason the bench led us back in this one. 26min 0pts ( 0-3 0-1 0-0) 3reb 1ast 0stl 3blk 0TO Temple ( C ) -- teamed with Barnes and Lawson to really lead the bench defensive charge, but in this game when Cuz was struggling and nobody else stepped up, Garret's complete lack of offense became an issue. Blew another layup early, missed an open corner three late, and was posing no threat in between.