The Charlotte Bobcats held on to a late lead Friday night to beat the Washington Wizards 93-85, stringing together their first win streak of the season. Three players in particular stepped their game up tonight: Gerald Wallace (surprising, huh?), D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw. The defense also played pretty well, holding the Wizards to 42% shooting, notably holding Al Thornton and Gilbert Arenas to a combined 3-22 on the night.
And it can’t be stressed enough that the Bobcats, who won a total of 13 games on the road last year, have already won three while out of town. The 2009-2010 Bobcats’ third road victory came on January 3, 2010. So maybe we can curtail our worrying a little bit?
I’m going to be writing recaps in my own style, which I call Yays and Nays, Yays of course being good things and Nays being, well, I should hope you can guess that.
- Gerald Wallace – He was in top form once again, shooting nine of fifteen from the field and adding six free throws for a total of 25 points. He filled out the rest of the box score as usual, wrenching down 14 rebounds (6 offensive), getting two steals and two blocks. Oh, and for kicks and giggles, he had an assist to boot. All that, AND he only had one turnover. You can’t really ask him to play much better. He got the job done defensively as well, helping to hold Al Thornton to a measly two points on one of eight field goals. Something that may be going unnoticed, though, is his three point shooting. He’s being very careful about picking his shots from downtown. A career 31.8% shooter from beyond the arc, he’s knocking ‘em down at a career high percentage this season with 42.9%. He only took one three tonight and made it. Also, he’s just awesome on rebounding. He has the awareness and the athleticism to pull down boards over men who are much taller. At the end of the third quarter, he ran baseline, snagged the rebound off of a Knee Man miss, and somehow noticed time expiring and shot a fade away that drained as the buzzer sounded. Unfortunately it didn’t count as replay showed the ball to be on his fingertips a millisecond after the red light flashed. Bobcats fans, never wonder why I chose to make a cardboard doppelganger of that man.
- D.J. Augustin - November 24, 2008. That was the last (and first) time D.J. had a double-double. Until today, that is. Our new starting point guard was impressive tonight, shooting five of eight from the field for 17 points with three 3-pointers. He tacked on 10 assists with a steal and a pair of rebounds. It seems that this season D.J. is looking more often to pass than shoot, and it shows. However, he turned the ball over four times. On an up note, one one of those came in the second half. He wasn’t killed on the defensive end either tonight, which is surprising (no offense, D.J.). I was legitimately worried about Wall playing against us as he was just coming off his first triple double and we have had trouble with young, quick guards (see: Jennings, Brandon). Although Wall got off to a good first half, recording nine assists, he never shot particularly well. Augustin gave Wall a lot of space around the arc but generally played him tight inside that little line. Wall is a fantastic, talented point guard, so it’s hard for me to be disappointed with D.J. after the way he played tonight. KUDOS.
- Boris Diaw – I haven’t given up hope with this guy just yet. He’s frustratingly inconsistent but when he comes to play, he just has an amazing skill set that ranges from three point shooting, good layups, sweet dishes and some above-average defense. Boris shot eight of ten for 19 points, including a perfect two for two from downtown. Le Miserable had five rebounds and five assists, as well. But, he also had four turnovers. And he was straight abused by Andray Blatche in the first quarter. But Blatche never fully regained his form after he took a rough tumble initiated by Nazr. Nevertheless, Diaw knocked down open shots that the Wizards D let him take, which allowed us to hold onto the lead until it was over and I could stop worrying about us blowing a late lead.
- TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS – The Bobcats had ten, count ‘em, TEN, turnovers in the first quarter. Somehow the Bobcats stayed in the game as the Wizards could take advantage of the extra possessions and only had a three point lead after the first. However, the Bobcats reduced their turnovers immensely and cut the Washington lead to one at the half. The Cats once again had trouble with turnovers, this time in the third quarter. And once again, they managed to reduce the turnovers as the game went on and they were able to pull out the win.
- Stephen Jackson, Quarters One Through Three – What is going on with Stephen Jackson? For most of every game except in the fourth quarters, it seems he’s the invisible man. His defense is passable but his offense just is not there. He didn’t drive nearly as much as he used to, preferring to post up and spot up on the three point line for shots. And in quarters one through three, he shot two of seven overall and zero for four from three. And he had four turnovers on the entire game. I think his turnover problem stems from his post game. His size advantage at the SG allows him to post up, nearly at will. but when the double-team comes, he gets overwhelmed and struggles to make a good pass.
- The Bench – Coming not even a day after I posted my article on how impressed I was by the Bobcats’ second team so far, the bench arrived in underwhelming fashion. Usually the +/- statistic is one of the most misleading, but tonight it was somewhat correct (though still nowhere close to a good statistic): no one on the bench had a positive +/-. The closest person was Sherron Collins who played five seconds. They combined to shoot four of twenty, with no player scoring more than one bucket. Even Knee Man shot a miserable one of five. The only redeeming factor was Tyrus Thomas’ nine rebounds. Even he struggled with Yi Jianlian, who held Tyrus to one of six shooting and four points. On the plus side, Tyrus had five offensive rebounds. Extra possession = extra points.
- Matt Carroll’s Free Throw Shooting - Seriously Matt? You’re going to tease us with your 184 free throw streak in the off-season and you miss your first attempt of the season? On a technical free throw, no less? Sad face.
Odds and Ends
- Nazr and Gana – they weren’t terrible nor outstanding, so I’ll just describe their play here. Nazr continues to frustrate me to the nth degree, by not blocking out well and just playing mediocre defense, in general. However, he can hit most open short range shots and even has some decent post-game going on. Diop coming off the bench, play good defense, rebounded fairly well and only took one shot, which if remember correctly, was not a jump shot, so I can’t complain too much. All in all, I’d give our center play a big “meh.”
- As noted above, Sherron Collins was put in for five seconds. And who says Larry Brown doesn’t play his rookies? Just kidding, I know he has two able-bodied point guards ahead of Collins.
- If you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here is my Shaun Livingston (KNEE MAN) photoshop:
- Gotta say Larry Brown did as good as he could have with the rotation tonight, except for overusing Jackson. The bench did not play very well tonight and the starters played exceptionally well. Heck, Derrick Brown got stuff by the rim on a dunk.
- Oh yeah, if you haven’t heard by now, Kevin Love had 31 rebounds against the Knicks. In comparison, the Wizards had a total of 30 rebounds. Yeah, that just happened.
From here, the Bobcats take on the very, very hot, nay incendiary Utah Jazz with the great play of Paul Millsap and Deron Williams. If the Bobcats are the Bobcats of old and play up to their competition, maybe (MAYBE) we sneak one out at home and prove to the home crowd that our slow start was just that – a slow start. For those with tickets in Charlotte, don’t sell your season tickets just yet, this team has a lot left in the tank and a lot of room to improve.
Don’t lose hope just yet.