2. Quickly, apologies for the lack of a post after the Cavs game. I’ll just reiterate what others have already said: the Cavs looked absolutely dominant. They were by far the strongest team I’ve seen at the Cable Box this year. The Bobcats match up surprisingly well with the Celtics and always play them tough, so the Cs never seem that impressive to me. The ’08-’09 Cavs look unstoppable, however. One thing that I haven’t seen stressed enough is how well they defend the basket. They blocked or altered so many shots early in the game that the Bobcats seemed discouraged from playing aggressively the rest of the night.
The only highlights of the Cavs game for me were (1) seeing David from Rufus on Fire coming up just a bit short in the minibike race and (2) discovering Soho Bistro just a couple blocks from the the arena (no need to patronize the P.F. Changs chain outlet in Phillips Place anymore) – strong post-game dinner.
3. The Cats were in the game tonight until the last 30 seconds, when Jason Richardson choked on two potentially game-tying free throws, then quickly fouled Yakhouba Diawara, who hit his two free throws to give the Heat a four point lead… Game Over.
4. The Cats did a decent job keeping Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley in check tonight, but had no such luck against Dwyane Wade, who went for 41 points on 12-22 FGs and 15-19 FTs. Not to take anything away from Wade, but that dude could probably drop his shorts at midcourt, take a shit, and get three free throws out of it. Maybe someday, technology will have advanced to the point that robots will be able to officiate sporting events, but I kinda doubt it. So I think we’ll always be subjected to the star system whereby the more scintillating, confident players (and, by extension, the teams they play for) get the benefit of the doubt nearly every time down the court.
And speaking of scintillating, Wade had a dunk on Okafor to tie the game up with a few minutes left in the game that probably goes in the top 10 dunks of the year to this point. Hopefully, it makes its way into the highlight packages.
5. Before he choked with the game on the line, Jason Richardson had played a pretty strong game, with 24 points on 7-16 FG and 4-5 3PT. He actually started the game on fire, with 13 points in the first few minutes to help the Bobcats out to a 20-12 lead halfway through the first quarter. He picked up his second first quarter foul a few minutes later, had to sit, and was never able to get his heat back.
6. Okafor had a nice stretch early in the third quarter where he scored 10 straight points (seriously, here’s the play-by-play). One of those buckets was a sweet-looking turn-around baseline jumper, another was a spot-up baseline jumper from a little farther out. Mek looked totally confident on those shots, which was weird to see. Every once in awhile (usually against an inferior defender – Joel Anthony in this case) Mek gives you these tantalizing offensive performances: 19 points on 9-11 FGs and 12 rebounds.
7. Morrison had a decent game off the bench, with 13 points (3-5 3PT) and 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Morrison is kinda like the anti-Wade when it comes to the refs, though. He seemingly can’t come within 6 inches of an opponent when defending or rebounding without drawing a whistle.
8. Raymond had a typical Raymond game, which is to say he shot miserably (2-11 FG), fouled a lot (DQd late in the fourth quarter), but did lead the team in assists (8).
9. But hey, at least one Charlotte team got it done tonight: the Panthers dropped the hammer on their division rivals on Monday Night Football, beating Tampa 38-23. Awesome performance; if the O-line keeps playing that well and the 1-2 punch of Williams and Stewart stays healthy, the Panthers are poised to make some noise in the postseason.
10. Two more tough road games this week, against New Orleans on Wednesday and a Dallas squad that’s starting to click on Thursday. We’ll likely be without Gerald Wallace for both of those games as he takes care of his family in the wake of his grandmother’s passing, so here’s hoping that Ammo, JD or Shannon Brown can step it up in his absence.