The Charlotte Bobcats notched their best win of the season in defeating the Chicago Bulls 96-91 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box. The Cats are now 15-21 overall and 6-2 since interim Coach Paul Silas took over. The previous five wins had only resulted in tempered enthusiasm due the the marginal quality of the opponents; but the Bulls are a bonafide contender, and the Cats took them down.
The Bobcats came out red-hot to start the game. Gerald Wallace looked good in his return from an ankle injury, DJ and Boris hit some early threes, and Kwame Brown (yes, seriously) dominated Kurt Thomas inside for 10 first quarter points as the Bobcats staked a 36-22 lead after the first frame. Now is a good time to note that the Bulls are playing without Joakim Noah, who’s in the midst of an 8-10 week hiatus after having surgery on a torn thumb ligament.
The Cats would go on to push that lead up to 17 early in the second, only to see it dwindle away. The Bulls battled back behind Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer and eventually took a 80-75 with 8 minutes left in the fourth. From there the Cats ratcheted up the defensive intensity and DJ, Jack and Tyrus Thomas took the game over.
The most finish went like this: with the Bulls up 89-88 with 1:15 left, Tyrus Thomas hit an insane prayer of a reverse layup. Calling it a reverse layup is probably kind; seriously, check the picture. That shot went in. Next play down DJ forced Derrick Rose into the teeth of the defense where Boris Diaw was able to get a piece of his layup attempt. Now under a minute to go and the Cats iso Stephen Jackson in the post on Luol Deng; Jack comes through with a pretty turnaround J to put the Cats up three with 30 seconds to go.
The Bulls take a timeout and come out with their best play: give it to Derrick Rose. But as they had done numerous times before, the Cats seemed to sense exactly when to give DJ help. Jack collapsed on Rose while Tyrus Thomas moved into the lane to cut off Deng as he flashed to the rim; Rose then forced a bad pass behind Deng that was picked off by Diaw. From there, DJ hit a few free throws to finish it off.
And so the Cats move into the 8th spot in the East with this, their fourth straight, win. If nothing else, this little streak serves as vindication for Jordan, who made the undoubtedly tough call to stand pat with the roster and fire Larry Brown instead of listening to his calls for more trades. Jordan gets bagged on a lot for his track record in the front office (rightfully so, and he’s still going to have to make more difficult decisions about how to rebuild this team eventually), but he deserves credit for seeing that the Bobcats are much better than how they were playing under Larry Brown and that they needed to exhale with a player’s coach at the helm.
- So DJ really seems to get up for playing against Rose, huh? 22 points (6-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-9 FT), 12 assists/1 turnover for DJ tonight, while Derrick Rose was held to 17 points (5-17 FG), 7 assists/4 turnovers. I seem to recall another time when DJ had a particularly stellar game against Rose — during their rookie year maybe?
- Best game for Tyrus Thomas in a couple weeks: 30 minutes, 17 points (7-14 FG), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. Nothing like the little charge you get from facing your old team, huh?
- Tweet of the night goes to Bobcats AP beat writer Mike Cranston: “Suggestion on press row next CHA ad campaign feature Augustin breaking out of chains and Jack driving a bus over LB’s body” Sounds like a job for Mike and/or Deesdale.
- Next game is Friday night in Boston to face the Celtics, who used to bring out the best in the Bobcats, but lately have just owned them. 7:30 PM ET start.