Bobcats Win Streak Ends at Four After Being Narrowly Defeated by Celtics

Standard

He's 38. He had 23 points. What?!? (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The Boston Celtics won by five points at home against the Bobcats on Friday night, with the score 99-94. The Bobcats were led by Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin (at least offensively) who had 20 and 19 points, respectively. On the other hand, Rajon Rondo put up a very Rajon Rondo-y night with 18 points and 13 assists along with Shaquille O’Neal turned back time, who gathered 23 points and 5 blocks. Ray Allen was also very effective at quelling the Bobcats effort to come back, draining two of his four treys in the fourth en route to 19 points.

Recap | Box Score

But don’t take the score for face value; it wasn’t as close as it sounds. The Bobcats managed to get 34 free throws at TD Garden, nine more than the Celtics. Furthermore, the Bobcats shot a mediocre 42.1% from the field while the Celtics shot 52.2%. That said, the Celtics are an elite team and even without Kevin Garnett, they’re a force to be reckoned with. I feel like I should be somewhat encouraged by how we only lost by five points, but I’m finding it a little hard to do so.

Tids & Bits (forgoing the yays/nays tonight)

  • D.J. Augustin – He did play decently on offense, recording 19 points on 5-11 shooting with 6 assists against Rajon Rondo. However, I couldn’t help noticing his deficiency on defense. He struggled to get through screens (which the Celtics are excellent at doing) and his height doesn’t lend any help either to guard Rondo. It just seemed like Augustin wasn’t doing anything to hinder Rondo’s play-making ability. In other words, it looked like Rondo was able to get the ball where it needed to be whenever he wanted against D.J.’s defense. Hell, Rondo even hit a three-pointer.
  • Stephen Jackson – Bleh. Thirteen points from 17 attempts. I’m not a fan of running the offense through Jackson. By all means pass it to him when he’s open or has a good look in the post, but don’t make him go into iso-mode. Usually he gets double-teamed and either puts up bad shots or turns the ball over.
  • Boris Diaw – Boris quietly had a decent night with 11 points on seven shots and 8 rebounds while defending Glen “Big Baby” Davis pretty well (11 points, 4-7 FG, 5 REB).
  • Kwame Brown – Ah, yes. Kwame, Kwame, Kwame. After playing decently lately, he was just bullied by Grandpa Shaq. I believe that’s all I need to say about that. Oh and at one point Shaq fell on Kwame and squished him.
  • The Bench – They played pretty well, outscoring the Celtics bench. Tyrus Thomas had 6 points and 5 rebounds in the first half, but he had trouble scoring in the second, only recording two more points after the half. However he did rebound well, grabbing nine boards. Livingston was decent as well. I thought he defended Rondo better than Augustin did, but for some reason, Knee Man just couldn’t take advantage of being matched up with Nate Robinson, who’s nearly a foot shorter. Livingston ended the game with 7 points on 3-7 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Nothing really notable about the other guys.
  • As for the Celtics, they’re still really beat up. Kevin Garnett is a few days from returning and they’re bringing Semih Erden off the bench to replace Shaq. But their starters play so well together on both sides of the ball, that it’s usually enough to beat most teams. Every starter on their squad put up double figures in points, with only Glen Davis getting fewer than 18 points.
  • Gerald Wallace – I don’t really have much to say about his game tonight, as it was normal Crash with 50% FG, 6 REB, 10 FTA. However, there was big news this morning when Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported that sources had told him that the Cavaliers were in discussions to trade the LeBron trade exception money to the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace (and possibly a lottery-protected first round pick). I don’t understand this at all for us. Gerald Wallace still has value. He’s a good defender, fills up the stat sheet and is decent on offense. He was even an All-Star last year. If these reports are true (who knows if they are), this is very disheartening. It pretty much says “We value lots of money more than Gerald Wallace’s talent.” And all this time I had thought cheap-o Bob Johnson was gone. *Sigh*

Anyway, this wasn’t the worst loss, and we managed to hold our own against a great team, so I’m not too disappointed. Not too much time to dwell on it anyway as we have the Hornets Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST at the Cable Box.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Celtics 1/6/09

Standard

1.  Big win tonight at the Cable Box tonight as the Bobcats continue to give the Celtics fits, this time taking them down in overtime, 114-106.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats improve to 13-22; Celtics fall to 29-7, and have now lost 5 out of their last 7.

2.  This was easily the biggest win and the most fun game to attend of the season so far.  The arena was not quite as full as it had been the first time the Celtics came to town a few weeks back, but it was still a pretty good crowd.  As always, there were lots of Boston fans in the house; some diehards (like the old guy with a killer green satin Celtics jacket behind me), but also a ton of bandwagon jumpers (replete with gleaming new Garnett jerseys).

The Bobcats played a great first quarter, maintained a small lead for the rest of the first half, eventually relinquished it late in the third, then made big play after big play in the fourth to force the overtime.  The Celtics were out of gas in the overtime period, and DJ Augustin hit a big three and a handful of free throws to seal the deal.

3.  Raymond Felton is front and center in a lot of the highlights and stories, and rightfully so.  He played his heart out, leading the team with 25 points (9-17 FG, 6-8 FT), 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals.  He also hit two monster shots in the fourth quarter: the first was a three-pointer with the game tied at 85 with 6:39 left, the second was an extremely difficult Iverson-esque baseline fadeaway to give the Cats a 1 point lead with 38 seconds left.

But Raymond also made some bad plays down the stretch that made those big shots so necessary.  Amongst his seven turnovers on the night were two particularly bad passes with under 3 minutes left that prematurely ended crucial possessions.  And, after getting fouled with 20 seconds left, the Cats up by one, he hit only one of two free throws.  Pierce (of course) responded by backing down Augustin and coolly draining a turn-around jumper to tie the game with three seconds left.  Then, despite getting a good look from straight on, Felton missed his chance to be the hero by bricking a 20 footer at the buzzer.

4.  One of the big reasons the game was so fun to watch was its chippy nature.  Of course, nothing less should be expected with the Celtics in the building.  Their antics were on full display tonight.  Garnett was his usual assholey self; jawing with, and eventually elbowing Morrison at one point; fouling Carroll on a scramble for a loose ball and spending an excessive amount of time laying on top of him afterwards.  Oh, and his most annoying pseudo-intimidating move — you know, when he’s on defense, and there’s a foul call, and the offensive player will toss up a shot after the whistle, just because, and then Garnett jumps up and snatches the ball out of the air as it nears the basket? — yeah, he pulled that one tonight as well.

Pierce protested pretty much every call that didn’t go his way, nearly picking up a tech at one point.  Doc Rivers did pick up a tech for the same.  Kendrick Perkins continued to add to his league leading total of “menacing scowls”.  And Glen Davis was maliciously leaning hard into every pick he set.

The good news is that the Bobcats matched the Celtics antics with just the right amount of aggression and moxie; enough to stand up to the Celtics, and get themselves and the crowd going, but not so much that they took themselves out of the game.  Morrison matched Garnett’s jawing; Juwan Howard fouled Glen Davis hard on a break early in the fourth, drawing a flagrant 1; Felton stepped up to Davis after one of those bone jarring picks and drew a tech.  The crowd loved every bit of it.

5.  Gerald Wallace was great, with 23 points (7-17 FG, 8-8 FT!), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The points were nice (most came in the first half) and those steals were big, but what deserves particular mention is Wallace’s 3 assists.  Two of them were fantastic dishes in the paint that resulted in dunks for Okafor; one came in the first quarter, the other in the decisive overtime period.  Both were pretty uncharacteristic for Wallace, who is usually a black hole on offense.  Could it be that Larry Brown and Boris Diaw are really rubbing off on Crash?

6.  Okafor had a solid game, with 13 points and 17 rebounds (5 offensive); he didn’t get a lot of looks in the post and missed the ones he did get, but racked up tons of boards and put himself in position to get some easy buckets throughout the game.

7.  Adam Morrison certainly deserves mention.  He played his best game in several weeks, logging 15 minutes and scoring 13 points on 6-9 FG.  He got those buckets on a variety of shots: a layup (his first in ages), a runner, a step-back, and generally showed glimpses of the creative scoring that he was able to do in college.  Most encouragingly, only two of his attempts were standstill, spot-up threes — and he hit one of those.

8.  Rondophilia has been discussed plenty in the NBA blogosphere as of late (maybe so much that it’s jumped the shark), but let me add to the chorus.  That guy is great.  His speed, freakishly long arms, on-ball defense, and sense of pace/timing on offense are all excellent, and he showed it all tonight.  I was surprised to see that he had 9 turnovers — I don’t really remember them, but imagine that Celtics fans certainly do.  If/when Rondo adds a reliable jump shot, he’s an All-Star.

9.  ESPN and ESPNNews both gave a lot of airtime to the “What’s wrong with the Celtics?” meme tonight in conjunction with showing the highlights, and the same question has been asked repeatedly on the internet in recent days (especially in the context of the Marbury rumor), but I wouldn’t panic if I were them.  FIrst of all, to their credit, they really do usually get their opponent’s best effort every night.  Despite this, they started the year on fire, probably played their vets too many minutes, and are a bit worn out.  It took a West Coast road trip for everything to catch up with them.

Tonight, nothing really looked wrong with them — they still looked like a great team.  For some reason, over the past two seasons, they just seem to bring out the best in the Bobcats.

10.  No time to enjoy this win, as the Bobcats have to turn right around and play the other elite team in the East, this time on the road — @ Cleveland, Wednesday night.

-E