Bobcats Score Decisive Win Over Cavs (Witness This!)

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Cavaliers 2/20/10

Thomas, Ratliff Impressive in Debuts

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-93 before a sellout crowd at the Cable Box on Friday evening.  AP recap here, box score here.  After losing their initial matchup in the opening days of the season, the Cats have since defeated the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers three straight times.

The game was tied 50-50 at the half, but the Cats pulled away midway through the third and kept a double digit lead through the fourth quarter.  It was over when a Boris Diaw steal led to a Gerald Wallace fast break dunk to put the Cats up by 17 with just under three minutes left.

The lead storyline in this one has to be the relative performances of each team’s newcomers.  The day before the trading deadline, the Cavs traded for Antawn Jamison in a move that has been lauded around the league.  However, Jamison looked rusty and tentative in his debut for the Cavs, and probably cost them the game.  Jamison seemed passive, yet finished with the second highest FGA for the game with 12.  Furthering the problem, he didn’t hit any of them — yep, 0-12 FG.  Jamison had several shots blocked and had two airballs from three-point range.

Meanwhile, Bobcats newcomers Theo Ratliff and Tyrus Thomas probably couldn’t have asked for better debuts.  With Tyson Chandler (foot/ankle) and Gana Diop (knee) sidelined, Ratliff was pressed into early duty to back up Nazr Mohammed.  He entered the game with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter and within 90 seconds had recorded his first block for the Bobcats (on the aforementioned Jamison).  Ratliff went on to log 18 minutes in the game, mostly spent valiantly guarding Shaq and gathering rebounds.  Ratliff ended with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, no FGA or FTA.  Perfect line for the guy.

Tyrus Thomas entered the game for Ratliff a little later in the first quarter and quickly went about filling up the stat sheet.  He recorded his first block less than fifteen seconds after checking in, and went on to block 5 more.  By the fourth quarter, Thomas’ mere presence in the lane was affecting the Cavs’ decisions in the lane.  Thomas also swallowed up tons of boards, eventually totaling 12 in his 25 minutes of playing time.

If Larry Brown can work the same magic for Tyrus that he’s worked for Gerald Wallace, then we’ll be in great shape.  On second thought, “magic” is a poor choice of words there.  There’s nothing magic about what’s happened to Gerald’s game, or what needs to happen to Ty’s game — it’s just simple maturation, getting smarter about the game, picking your spots, slowing down a bit while maintaining necessary aggression, minimizing your weaknesses and highlighting your strengths.

Beneath his morose surface, you know Larry Brown is quietly pumped about the prospect of teaching Tyrus all that he’s never been taught about basketball.  I imagine the dynamic kind of like Stellan Skarsgaard and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting; only I hope this doesn’t end with Tyrus lighting Larry Brown’s playbook on fire, then going to cry in Phil Jackson’s embrace while the Zen Master repeats “It’s not your fault.”

Witness

A secondary storyline has to be what in the world the Bobcats are doing to Lebron James.  Lebron had a quiet 22 point, 9 assist game; he has averaged 22.5 points in the four games against the Cats this year, well below his 30 ppg average.

The Cats don’t seem to be doing anything too fancy to Lebron.  It helps that Gerald Wallace is the primary individual defender, of course, and that Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw are the guys that most frequently get switched onto him — all of those guys can at least hold their own.  But the key is more in the team defense that the Cats play — the traps in the backcourt, the aggressive help defense, the good rotations out to the jump shooters.

Odds And Ends

  • It’s unfortunate I’ve gotten this far without mentioning the guy who put the ball in the hole all night for the Cats; Stephen Jackson led the offensive charge with 29 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3PT, 8-10 FT) while also adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
  • Boris and DJ both had their best games in some time, looking confident and decisive.
  • The only downside I can see to Ty Thomas being a big part of the Bobcats down the stretch (other than the general combustibility and questionable basketball IQ, or course) is that Gerald’s rebounding numbers are probably going to drop.  Not that they were going to rise back to a league-leading level without him around, but still…
  • Tyson Chandler, we hardly knew ye…
  • Does anyone else think Shaq might be pushing 350 lbs?  And those awful Chinese shoes he’s wearing look like locomotives.
  • I hadn’t realized this until looking at the standings after the game, but due to their recent stumble, the Cats have fallen down to 8th place in the East.  Which means that if the season ended today, we’d face these Cavs in the first round.  Interesting matchup, huh?
  • Not only were the Cats on point all night, but so was the Cable Box’s WiFi.  Got lots of Tweets in — follow me!
  • Quick turnaround, as the Cats have a back-to-back Saturday night in Milwaukee, 8:30 PM ET start.  This one’s important, as the Bucks are the primary threat to jump into the playoff picture in the East.  Currently, they’re only half a game behind the Cats in the standings.  Furthermore, the Cats are 1-1 against the Bucks so far this year, with Saturday’s meeting and a late season tilt still to go.  A victory tomorrow night guarantees we wouldn’t lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with them if it came down to that at the end of the year.

-Dr. E

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20 Responses to “Bobcats Score Decisive Win Over Cavs (Witness This!)”

  1. ASChin
    February 20, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    Nice tidbit of info from The Sporting News interview with Tyrus Thomas pregame:

    "Q: What do you know about playing for coach Larry Brown?

    Thomas: It’s gonna be good. I’ve been with Lindsey (Hunter) the past year-and-a-half and I was with Big Ben (Wallace) my first year-and-a-half. All Ben talks about is L.B. this and L.B. that, and all Lindsey talks about is L.B. this and L.B. that, so I feel I’ve got a good background, but I’ve still got to get the first-hand (experience). I’m already ready for what’s to come. Both of those guys say the same thing, that he’ll be tough on you but he cares about you and if you just listen, the team will get better and you’ll get better and everybody will succeed. That’s what I’m looking forward to."

    Read the entire interview here:
    http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Baseline/ent

  2. Newsinz
    February 20, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Congratulations to Mr. Jamison for breaking an NBA record last night. And in front of so many close friends & family, in his home state!

    Every single trade and acquisition this season has been spot on, including picking up Acie Law (whom I personally wrote off as an afterthought when he came in with Cpt. Jack) in order to help steal Thomas from Chicago right at the trade deadline.

    Magic number for guaranteed playoff berth: 18

  3. Jody
    February 20, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    Dr E, were you able to sell any t-shirts before the game?

  4. reggie
    February 20, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    not to mention, this game should have DEFINITELY been nationally televised.

  5. Jaxon
    February 20, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Great game! Let's hope that this is just a mere highlight of things to come once Thomas get's familiar with LB's system. Let's also hope LB doesn't criticize him into a funk the way he did Augustine earlier this season.

  6. ASChin
    February 20, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Excellent recap.

    A quick shout out to D.J. Augustin for that wicked dribble drive into the lane, back out and turnaround swish. That was ballsy. As soon as D.J. hit the quarter ending three, I knew we were gonna see something like that. Like he was channeling the spirit of Flip Murray.

    Oh, and Dr. E, as Flip is now officially off the roster, should we share that uncomfortable "Flip Murray's Girlfriends" link with the Baseliners? Too soon? Too strange?

  7. spectre
    February 20, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    http://www.nba.com/video/topplays/

    Felton's steal/alley to Crash made top play of the day!

    Good find on the interview AsChin.

    Newsinz wrote: "Every single trade and acquisition this season has been spot on, including picking up Acie Law (whom I personally wrote off as an afterthought when he came in with Cpt. Jack) in order to help steal Thomas from Chicago right at the trade deadline."

    Absolutely! I'm having to revise all my thinking on the FO on trading…maybe it's not so bad trading these picks as we've still not done well in that regard.

  8. G-Money
    February 20, 2010 at 6:25 am #

    Great energy from the fans. Cablebox was rocking. Interesting to see The King look so out-of-sorts. Wonder if any other teams can replicate what the Cats have done to them.

    Can we get those 2L's back from NJ?

  9. reggie
    February 20, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    fantastic game. its hard to not get excited when a young player debuts for your team and nearly gets a triple-double.

    the T-squared era is going to be pretty fun to watch.

    one thing i have noticed though is that Boris' production is inversely related to GWs. tonight, GW got a "quiet" 17 and didnt get a double double (which i blame on Tyrus), but normally, its Boris that has the "quiet" game.

    major props for DJ finding his manhood. bout time.

  10. spectre
    February 20, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    From the recap: “It helps that Gerald Wallace is the primary individual defender, of course, and that Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw are the guys that most frequently get switched onto him — all of those guys can at least hold their own. But the key is more in the team defense that the Cats play — the traps in the backcourt, the aggressive help defense, the good rotations out to the jump shooters.”

    Awesome…you guys “get it”! That’s why we show that we’re one of the best teams in the league defensively, and the lacking of that above is why we’ve had some low points lately.

    Adding TT & Theo is really going to help the PG/wings out too…now they have a defender at the goal to allow them to play D even more aggressively.

    Very good observation!

  11. Dr. E
    February 20, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    ASChin – nice find on that interview. It's funny to think that Ben Wallace and Lindsey Hunter are like LB's disciples, spreading the gospel around the league.

    Jody – street sales of the t-shirts were sluggish, maybe I need to go back and watch some Wire episodes to get tips from Bodie on how to move product on the corner…

  12. EC
    February 20, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    If the Bobcats win more than they lose this weekend and next week, and keep clicking like they did last night, maybe ESPN will decide to put the Lakers game on national television Friday, March 5th, since that's one of the few teams that is always on that network, anyway.

  13. Jaxon
    February 20, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Chicago fans say Tyrus has Star potential, but has never had anybody to teach him how to "play the right way". I understand he only played a year of ball in HS, then only a year in college… then was in the pros, at only 19 years old. Now at 23 he's reaching maturity, finally has a coach to teach him, and is sick of sitting on the bench… ready to prove himself. Needless to say, I'm high on this guy. This trade could be huge!

  14. Dr. E
    February 20, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    EC: Nice thought, but ESPN has those games planned out way in advance:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/schedule/_/date/20100227

    They've got Pistons @ Cavs, then Hornets @ Spurs that night.

  15. Jody
    February 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    dr. e, if you need the t-shirts sold, let's get jason back from the west coast, best coast and him and i will move as much product as you need. as veterans of shakedown streets at phish shows, we can get things sold. just drop us off at the parking lot of the game, and we'll take care of the rest.

  16. Jared
    February 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    ASChin, per the Wire. It’s all about TURF. You can’t just go around the corner from the main entrance. Here’what Brodie would do. You and 3-4 friends get some metal baseball bats and run off those punks in the ticket office. Now you move the tickets AND the shirts. Looks like upper-deck tickets just got $25 dollars more expensive. Yea that’s right. That Bobcats are that good. Just don’t let any of those ticket office bitches lead you into an abandoned row-house in east Baltimore and you’ll be fine.

  17. Dr. E
    February 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/epic-beard-man

    You're welcome.

  18. Jason
    February 22, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    And speaking of the WEst Coast (Best Coast), you should take some pointers from the dudes selling hats on the bridge leading from BART to Warriors arena. The key is to hit people up in the parking lot. Stay away from the venue.

  19. Dr. E
    February 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Appreciate the advice, Jason. I’m going to make some kind of street sales manual that compiles everything learned from Shakedown Street @ Phish shows with everything I learned from The Wire.

    It’s pretty much all the same stuff, huh?

    Jason, what I really want to know is have you ever had any dealings with Epic Beard Man in Oaktown?

  20. Jason
    February 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    Who is this Epic Beard Man that you speak of?

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