Charlotte Bobcats @ New Jersey 4/12/10
As Fake Sinatra said to Steve & Edie: “Listen, it’s up to you. You can either open for me at the Meadowlands or headline at the Tick-Tock Inn!”
The Meadowlands (recently renamed The Izod Center) closed up shop after nearly 30 years Monday night with the Charlotte Bobcats taking care of business against the cellar dweller Nets 105-95. With Miami winning on the same evening, the ‘Cats are now locked into the East’s 7th seed and will take on the Magic in Orlando on Saturday after wrapping up the regular season against Chicago on Wednesday.
Welcome to the NBA, Gerald Henderson
The Bobcats get an amazing 50 points from the bench in this one as Gerald “The Sequel” Henderson led the way with 14 on 6-9 shooting in just 21 minutes of action. This wasn’t garbage time folks (well, unless you consider any minute played against the Nets “garbage time”). Henderson filled in nicely for Crash by throwing down a couple of monster dunks, connecting on an acrobatic, double-pump reverse layup, rejecting a Brook Lopez shot and grabbing seven boards. Nothing against Terrence Williams, who was taken one spot ahead of Henderson and who had an excellent game himself (21 points, 13 boards and 6 assists in 41 minutes) but for the first time all season it seemed as if Henderson belonged in the League. He looked confident and asserted himself at both ends of the court. This looks promising.
The rest of bench brought their A-game as well. DJ shot the ball well again (5-7) and dropped a beautiful 18 footer over Lopez’s outstretched as if to say “I know you should have been the pick but not on this play!“ Stephen Graham had his bi-monthly Stephen Graham baseline drive and dunk, Tyrus Thomas shot the ball poorly (he did have a semi-cast on his thumb) but played hard and got to the line (5 attempts) in 20 minutes of action.
Theo Ratliff got the start tonight and really affected the game on the defensive end early. Dude blocked two shots in two minutes (after the Nets TV team referred to him as a previously effective defensive player) and pulled down three boards. The problem with too much Theo Ratliff is when he starts affecting the game from an offensive standpoint. Theo was credited with only one Turnover but I counted three. If Gana Diop and Emeka Okafor started a “Big Man Hands Camp,” Theo Ratliff would be their first product.
Nazr Mohammed got a little burn afterwards and looked slow defensively and out of synch offensively. We might not be seeing the Nazr from earlier in the season again, folks. At least not until next year. Fortunately Tyson Chandler has looked very solid in the last few weeks and it looked like Larry Brown was saving Chandler’s legs for the first round matchup with Superman.
- Brook Lopez is just plain awesome. Why the Bobcats passed on him for Augustin I’ll never know. My only guess is that the organization didn’t realize how well he ran the floor as a college prospect. Lopez is the anti-Rasheed. At 7’0″, he’s running baseline to baseline on very play. Lopez ran the break on one possession in the third quarter as he tossed a beautiful transition alley oop pass to T-Will for the jam. Lopez has the body type to be doing this for a while too; he’s built kind of like a David Robinson or a taller Hakeem. Bobcats will be paying for the 2008 NBA draft for a long time.
- The Nets broadcast network ran several “Key Moments in Nets History” packages in tribute to the Meadowlands final game. Seeing Jason Kidd tear it up with Kittles, Van Horn and KMart against Reggie and the Pacers made me realize how long Kidd has been in the League. Drafted in ’94, Kidd has played against the likes of Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Michael Jordan, Skinny Shaq, Fat Shaq, Amare Stoudamire, Lebron James and Tyreke Evans.
- Game’s Biggest Surprise: Yi Jianlian isn’t terrible. He’s not great, don’t get me wrong but offensively he definitely belongs in the League as a seventh or eighth man off of the bench. He’s got a nice jumper from 20′ feet plus and the size (7’0″) to pull down boards over smaller forwards. Not bad for 35 year ol-, pardon me, 22 year old prospect.