Charlotte Bobcats vs Bucks, 4/2/10
The Charlotte Bobcats scored a tough overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks, 87-86 on Friday night at the Cable Box. The teams exchanged defensive blows all night amidst a playoff atmosphere, with Stephen Jackson (32 points) supplying the offense for the Cats.
Though the ruggedness of the game had a distinct mid-90s feel (generally regarded as an ugly period of basketball for the NBA), this was one of the most fun games I’ve attended in the past two seasons. Bring on more playoff basketball.
This one was intense right from the get-go, and tight throughout. The biggest lead either team held was 7, by the Bucks halfway though the second quarter. That was just after Larry Brown was ejected after arguing about a non-call, inciting a brief “Lar-ry, Lar-ry, Lar-ry” chant from the crowd. Assistant Dave Hanners assumed the lead role the rest of the way.
The Bobcats appeared to be primed for victory late in regulation after Jack hit a monster three with just over two minutes left to put the Cats up 76-73. The Bobcats maintained that three point buffer, only to see John Salmons bury a contested three to tie it at 80 with 10 seconds left.
The Cats called timeout to set up a gamewinner, but Raymond Felton only managed a contested jumper that was off the mark.
The slugfest continued in overtime until Stephen Jackson stepped back and drained a deep three (again) with under a minute left to put the Cats up three 87-84. After Salmons responded with a bucket to cut the Cats lead to one, disaster nearly struck.
With the shot clock running down and about 20 seconds left in the game, Jack was working against Bucks defensive bulldog Luc Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute poked the ball away and a mad scramble ensued. Jack was able to get a hand on it first and drew a foul on Mbah a Moute in the process — ball could’ve bounced the other way just as easily.
The Cats weren’t in the bonus, so had to inbound the ball. The Bucks decided not to foul with a four-second shot clock/game clock differential. Raymond worked himself free for another chance at a game-clinching shot and missed again, but Tyson Chandler was able to get a hand on the rebound and tip it back out to Felton, who grabbed it as time expired to seal the win.
It was an appropriate finish as the Cats only shot 37.5% on the game — they made up for it at the free throw line, making 20 free throws to the Bucks 10. It was as if both teams, the officials and the fans all agreed early on that this was going to be physical, intense playoff-style basketball. And the Cats were up to the challenge.
- Tyrus Thomas (ankle) played a few minutes in the second quarter, but didn’t get back into the game after that.
- Nazr Mohammed (back) dressed but did not play. Gerald Henderson was inactive.
- Stephen Graham was awesome in 10 minutes off the bench: 7 points on 3-4 FG and 1-2 3PT. Larry Hughes was decidedly not awesome off the bench: 0-7 FG in 16 minutes.
- The loss actually drops the Bucks back into 6th place as the Heat continue to surge against their weak schedule downthe stretch. Tonight it was the Pacers who were unable to do us a solid in falling to the Heat. The Cats are now a game-and-a-half behind the 5th place Heat and one game behind 6th place Milwaukee.
- The Bobcats travel to Chicago to face the Bulls Saturday night. The Bulls are on the outside looking in — four games behind the Cats and a game-and-a-half behind 8th place Toronto — and would love nothing more than to take us down. 8 PM ET start on SportSouth.