1. Emeka Okafor. Wow. Larry Brown seems intent on getting the Cat’s money’s worth out of the $72 million man. Oak had another efficiently great game with 21pts on 9-14 shooting while grabbing 9 boards. His throw-down on Brook Lopez in the first quarter was an exciting sign of aggressiveness. The big man topped it all off by swatting a Bobby Simmons runner with under 2 minutes to go in the 4th to effectively kill the Nets late game run. Take a look at Okafor’s numbers for December. 18pts, 11rbs, and 2blks are no joke. If he continues this through January, he’s probably in the hunt for an All-Star spot.
2. Is it just me or was Coach Brown right on when he said (I paraphrase from memory) “We’re looking like a pro team now.” Ever since the trade, the ‘Cats look completely in synch and have put good efforts out on both ends of the court. It seems as though the team is building itself around Okafor–kind of like how the Magic are built around Howard. With Diaw in the mix, the team has never moved the ball around better and they look more fluid all around.
3. Speaking of Diaw, another nice game by The Skank Magnet as he shot 8-16 for 16pts, 8 boards and 7 assists. The dude is like an Oscar Robertson All-Stars Second Teamer — he’s gonna almost give you a triple double every game.
4. The Nets local coverage is on the YES! Network and Marv Albert/”Czar” Fratello handle the commentating duties. I sometimes forget how good of a color guy Fratello is. He pointed out that Diaw probably never thought that he’d play such a featured role in the Charlotte offense after the trade and then broke down the ‘Cats Flex Offense by tracing it back from its college roots through the NBA. Top flight commentary.
5. Raymond Felton with a very solid night in the backcourt going for 22pts on 6-11 shooting. Raymond hit two VERY clutch jump shots in the fourth quarter that killed a couple of Nets runs. Having Boris out there is really helping Raymond do some good work on offense. On defense Raymond was his usual tenacious self as he limited rising star Devin Harris to just 14pts on 5-14 shooting. Nice game by Raymond.
6. On a positive note for Nets fans, they have a very good young center in Brook Lopez. Lopez had some nice inside moves against Okafor and showed some legitimate range on his jumper. The word going around the League is that this guy is a 10 year starter seems pretty accurate. In a guard-oriented NBA, Lopez could definitely be a starting center on a championship team.
7. All around solid effort for the Bobcats. Nazr Mohammed played perhaps his best game of the season off of the bench. Raja Bell hit three of his shots (all 3s) and played very good defense against Vince Carter. DJ played well despite the gimpy ankle. Gerald Wallace continues to hone his shot selection. He’s scoring less but making more of the shots that he takes. Bonnell commented in his blog this week about how GFORCE would benefit most from Larry Brown’s presence in Charlotte because he’d never really been coached before. Looks like that may turn out to be true.
Enjoy the win Cats fans…the Nets follow the team back to Charlotte tonight where the Bobcats are 8-10 on the year. Unfortunately, the Nets are 9-4 on the road so the matchup won’t get any easier.