Charlotte Bobcats vs. Celtics 1/6/09

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1.  Big win tonight at the Cable Box tonight as the Bobcats continue to give the Celtics fits, this time taking them down in overtime, 114-106.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats improve to 13-22; Celtics fall to 29-7, and have now lost 5 out of their last 7.

2.  This was easily the biggest win and the most fun game to attend of the season so far.  The arena was not quite as full as it had been the first time the Celtics came to town a few weeks back, but it was still a pretty good crowd.  As always, there were lots of Boston fans in the house; some diehards (like the old guy with a killer green satin Celtics jacket behind me), but also a ton of bandwagon jumpers (replete with gleaming new Garnett jerseys).

The Bobcats played a great first quarter, maintained a small lead for the rest of the first half, eventually relinquished it late in the third, then made big play after big play in the fourth to force the overtime.  The Celtics were out of gas in the overtime period, and DJ Augustin hit a big three and a handful of free throws to seal the deal.

3.  Raymond Felton is front and center in a lot of the highlights and stories, and rightfully so.  He played his heart out, leading the team with 25 points (9-17 FG, 6-8 FT), 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals.  He also hit two monster shots in the fourth quarter: the first was a three-pointer with the game tied at 85 with 6:39 left, the second was an extremely difficult Iverson-esque baseline fadeaway to give the Cats a 1 point lead with 38 seconds left.

But Raymond also made some bad plays down the stretch that made those big shots so necessary.  Amongst his seven turnovers on the night were two particularly bad passes with under 3 minutes left that prematurely ended crucial possessions.  And, after getting fouled with 20 seconds left, the Cats up by one, he hit only one of two free throws.  Pierce (of course) responded by backing down Augustin and coolly draining a turn-around jumper to tie the game with three seconds left.  Then, despite getting a good look from straight on, Felton missed his chance to be the hero by bricking a 20 footer at the buzzer.

4.  One of the big reasons the game was so fun to watch was its chippy nature.  Of course, nothing less should be expected with the Celtics in the building.  Their antics were on full display tonight.  Garnett was his usual assholey self; jawing with, and eventually elbowing Morrison at one point; fouling Carroll on a scramble for a loose ball and spending an excessive amount of time laying on top of him afterwards.  Oh, and his most annoying pseudo-intimidating move — you know, when he’s on defense, and there’s a foul call, and the offensive player will toss up a shot after the whistle, just because, and then Garnett jumps up and snatches the ball out of the air as it nears the basket? — yeah, he pulled that one tonight as well.

Pierce protested pretty much every call that didn’t go his way, nearly picking up a tech at one point.  Doc Rivers did pick up a tech for the same.  Kendrick Perkins continued to add to his league leading total of “menacing scowls”.  And Glen Davis was maliciously leaning hard into every pick he set.

The good news is that the Bobcats matched the Celtics antics with just the right amount of aggression and moxie; enough to stand up to the Celtics, and get themselves and the crowd going, but not so much that they took themselves out of the game.  Morrison matched Garnett’s jawing; Juwan Howard fouled Glen Davis hard on a break early in the fourth, drawing a flagrant 1; Felton stepped up to Davis after one of those bone jarring picks and drew a tech.  The crowd loved every bit of it.

5.  Gerald Wallace was great, with 23 points (7-17 FG, 8-8 FT!), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The points were nice (most came in the first half) and those steals were big, but what deserves particular mention is Wallace’s 3 assists.  Two of them were fantastic dishes in the paint that resulted in dunks for Okafor; one came in the first quarter, the other in the decisive overtime period.  Both were pretty uncharacteristic for Wallace, who is usually a black hole on offense.  Could it be that Larry Brown and Boris Diaw are really rubbing off on Crash?

6.  Okafor had a solid game, with 13 points and 17 rebounds (5 offensive); he didn’t get a lot of looks in the post and missed the ones he did get, but racked up tons of boards and put himself in position to get some easy buckets throughout the game.

7.  Adam Morrison certainly deserves mention.  He played his best game in several weeks, logging 15 minutes and scoring 13 points on 6-9 FG.  He got those buckets on a variety of shots: a layup (his first in ages), a runner, a step-back, and generally showed glimpses of the creative scoring that he was able to do in college.  Most encouragingly, only two of his attempts were standstill, spot-up threes — and he hit one of those.

8.  Rondophilia has been discussed plenty in the NBA blogosphere as of late (maybe so much that it’s jumped the shark), but let me add to the chorus.  That guy is great.  His speed, freakishly long arms, on-ball defense, and sense of pace/timing on offense are all excellent, and he showed it all tonight.  I was surprised to see that he had 9 turnovers — I don’t really remember them, but imagine that Celtics fans certainly do.  If/when Rondo adds a reliable jump shot, he’s an All-Star.

9.  ESPN and ESPNNews both gave a lot of airtime to the “What’s wrong with the Celtics?” meme tonight in conjunction with showing the highlights, and the same question has been asked repeatedly on the internet in recent days (especially in the context of the Marbury rumor), but I wouldn’t panic if I were them.  FIrst of all, to their credit, they really do usually get their opponent’s best effort every night.  Despite this, they started the year on fire, probably played their vets too many minutes, and are a bit worn out.  It took a West Coast road trip for everything to catch up with them.

Tonight, nothing really looked wrong with them — they still looked like a great team.  For some reason, over the past two seasons, they just seem to bring out the best in the Bobcats.

10.  No time to enjoy this win, as the Bobcats have to turn right around and play the other elite team in the East, this time on the road — @ Cleveland, Wednesday night.

-E

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4 Responses to “Charlotte Bobcats vs. Celtics 1/6/09”

  1. mike15
    January 7, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    It was great to see the 'Cats stand up for themselves against the Celtics. There were way too many Boston fans decked out in green. We sat behind a row of them that seemed nearly as cocky as their team on the court.

    While the Bobcats fans were excited and grateful to see their team playing solid basketball, the Celtics fans expected to see Pierce and Garnett get every call down the stretch.

    I think that's the best part of rooting for the Bobcats. They surprise you with some excellent play and you just have to live in the moment. Who has really ever expected anything from the Cats so far?

    Did anyone see that replay of the Gerald Wallace dunk where KG threw and elbow into him on his way down? Wallace was enough of a pro to just give him a look and get down court. GForce takes so many cheap shoves from every so-called "physical" team that he wasn't going to bite on KG's antics. It was great to catch Raymond stand up for himself against the Glen Davis. Davis tried to knock Raymond to the ground, but his move served to just energize the Bobcats to close the game. I don't know how they justify calling a Tech on Felton for reaching out to get Davis' attention, but didn't call a Tech on Pierce for pushing DJ Augustin out of bounds after the whistle blew (on Paul's turnover). Maybe the referees just appreciate Paul Pierce's "intensity" as much as everyone seems to appreciate it in Garnett.

    Also, a note to the above comment : Garnett doesn't have enough illegitimate children to be in the same league as Karl Malone.

  2. CatsGuy1213
    January 7, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    Terrific site and great game last night by the Cats. Good to see the place mostly full and a great win (obviously).

    From an observation standpoint, I thought the dual guard play was great, though maybe not as great as some stories I read today make it sound. The play was sloppy in the the second half, though Raymond did come up big early on and DJ was nails from the stripe at the end. I thought Gerald was strong and Boris Diaw is becoming a good consistent presence. Emeka was good, not great, offesnively which I think is what he is. I like having him, but he is not likely ever to be an elite player. Overall, it was a great team performance more than anything else.

    As for Morrison – this was his best game since the fall and the type of game he is capable of playing if he keeps his head in it and gets some consistent PT. I loved seeing him backing his man down. I liked the turnaround (even the one he missed – it was a decent look). He also is playing defense regardless of what anyone says – Ray Allen was quiet when AM was on him and he was decent on help D. We all know he is going to be average at best, but if he played like that, I'd be fine with him as a 6th or 7th man.

    Love having Juwan Howard – steady hand.

    The big question I have is how far can this team possibly go as it is currently composed? Don't they havbe to make some dramatic move to try to re-start the process? Maybe deal Emeka and Gerald plus Sean May and an expiring contract for two potential marquis players with some question marks? It seems to me that a team of about-average starters at every position is just limited in what it can do.

    Gerald – above average, tough, sound.

    Emeka – superior defense plus okay offense = average to just above.

    Boris Diaw – defines average (not an insult, just a fact).

    Raymond Felton – good offensive player (but for turnovers), okay defender – welcome to avergae city.

    DJ Augustin – probably the best player on the team when adjusted for experience – has potential to be well above average, but he is very small.

    Raja Bell – was once a great defender, still good, okay offense. What's the word I'm lookingh for – average".

    I don't think anyone else on the team is even at the average level. Am I wrong?

  3. Adam
    January 7, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Garnett = Karl Malone Evolution

    I just don't get it. Garnett is not that great of a player yet he's drooled over by so many sportswriters. The most egregious example being Bill Simmons, who homoerotically refers to a KG swimming pool sighting (ala Chevy Chase in "Vacation") whenever he brings up "impressive looking athletes." Settle down, Bill. You're married.

    I'm so pumped that Juwan Howard (with his $100 mil banked) can afford to be the guy who annihilates opposing roughnecks. The C's are like the overconfident Pistons of a few years back but worse–doesn't anyone remember that they were in the lottery before last season? One winning season and a good start to this year and all of a sudden they're the 90s Bulls. Imagine seeing Tim Duncan and the Spurs acting anywhere near as pompous as these farts in the wind.

    Great, gutsy performance by the 'Cats. I would so love for the 'Cats to finish strong and get the 7th or 8th spot and matchup with the Celtics in the first round. An upset would seem very much possible.

  4. AP_QC
    January 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    it was nice to see the Bobcats get some national air time after beating the defending champs.

    i was checkin out an earlier post talking about rivalries and how the Cats dont really have one…

    perhaps the celtics will turn into the rival we don't have–especially if we keep playing them to the wire and definitely if future meetings between the two squads are as physical as last night's.

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