Tom Nissalke, before tonight's game, discusses why he likes the idea of Harpring starting:
"You know you're going to get effort. When Deron sees someone getting after it, he'll do it too, then someone else, then someone else, then someone else...."
Kind of a jab at Deron, but probably deserved. Deron's on- and off-court leadership is sometimes as non-existent as his sideburns.
It's difficult to glean anything from a win like last night's over the Clippers. The Jazz played like they don't against good teams in the first half: aggressive and attacking the hoop without reservation. Even Millsap was finishing around the hoop. They played in the second half like they usually do when they build a big lead, which is best described as uninterested.
Pehaps the two most important characteristics Harpring brings to the Jazz starting lineup is physcical play and the ability to set a tone for the game. No other Jazz player seems to be able to affect the nature of the game and Harpring's physical approach on the floor could/should serve as a good example to the rest of the team in the playoffs, so long as his body can hold up.
Have you noticed that Deron has been absorbing some hard fouls lately? Have you also noticed that it never happens when Harpring is on the floor? There's a good chance that it is total coincidence since Harpring hardly plays (only 15 minutes tonight, but they were so big that it seemed like more), but it could also be that opposing teams know they would have to answer for putting Deron on the ground if Harpring were in the game. Boozer, Okur, Brewer or Millsap needs to at least step up to the hard-fouler and call him an effer or something.
There were two incidents in tonight's game where a Jazz teammate should done more:
1) Early in the first quarter, Chris Kaman threw the ball pretty hard at Williams. It wasn't as horrible a play has the crowd at The Larry made it out to be, but someone else on the team could have walked up to Kaman and said something.
2) After Harpring got into it with Baron Davis, Kaman did the basketball equivolent of baseball's throwing at a player who is of equal importance as the player the other team who was initially hit with a pitch. Except Kaman's hit on Williams was much more blatant and violent than Harpring's elbow on Davis. Sure, Deron can stick up for himself, but the opposing team needs to know they are going to receive some pain in return if they don't ease up on Williams.
Teams aren't going to ease up on Williams until his teammates start asking them un-nicely to lay off him.