San Antonio Spurs defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 86 – 84 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Standard Recap and Box info. While it’s tough to see the Bobcats lose a close one at home, several big picture positives were realized with this game.
First, it was a great atmosphere for a basketball game. The Bobcats once again hosted the Spurs for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. A solid crowd of near 16,000 in the house kept the energy up for all four quarters. It was nice to see so many families taking in a game. Going to NBA games was certainly one of my favorite things to do when I was younger, so it’s never bad to see a load of QC kids having the chance to enjoy a pro ball game (and a day out of school). Usually, there’s little applause for the announcement of the opposing starting five, but the Spurs got a lot of respect from the Charlotte fans. Tim Duncan brought plenty of fans out, even a few decked in Wake Forest gear. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were recognized, as well. Still, Cats sympathizers were quick to get loud as thing heated up late in the first half. That crowd buzz held steady up until the final second. The vibe of the arena really showed that the Bobcats actually have a solid and growing fan base. They may not be packing the house, but the basketball fans will start lining up in the coming seasons.
Secondly, the deal for Diop was necessary. While Desagana might not be Dwight Howard, the Bobcats can’t take over a physical game without the opportunity at an oversized line up. The Spurs didn’t dominate the paint, because all of the Bobcats were hanging out there. That just happened to leave key shooters open on the perimeter for huge stretches. If the Cats had a dependable big man to pair with Okafor and hold things down around the rim, Diaw, Bell, or Wallace would have a much easier time staying put on their assignment. That’s not saying the Spurs aren’t an incredible team when it comes to ball movement. The fourth quarter simply showed that the Bobcats would benefit from presenting different looks and matches on the defense end. As a whole they play well as a unit, but with only one set of pieces any good team will figure out a way to create and exploit mismatches.
Lastly, the Bobcats are playing like a relevant basketball team. The roster is now full of professionals and they play like it. For fans, it’s almost time to expect something from them. They tipped off today’s game riding a three game win streak and held tight with San Antonio until the buzzer. Gerald Wallace missed two opportunities for “game changing” plays, but Emeka enthused the crowd with his career highlight dunk (see image above) on Tim Duncan during the Cats’ huge third quarter burst. Larry Brown is getting the team in the right direction. These days, they have a shot to pull out a win on nearly anyone in the league (except Cleveland).
Larry Brown may have executed one of his more “professional” maneuvers by getting called for a tech just as the second quarter ended. Technical fouls aren’t always a mistake. Often, coaches can get a tech or even get tossed in an effort to motivate their team. In this case, it could be understood that Larry Brown drew the technical to make the referee crew discuss the game a bit more thoroughly during halftime. Leading up to the technical foul call was an incredibly physical second quarter. During this stretch, each team seemed to get burnt by non-calls. Referee Eli Roe (#64) had an off-game and made several bad calls or created excuse calls when he had missed one. An obvious example was a play where Tim Duncan jumped to take a shot, pulled his shot down and jump to take another. Clearly, that just looks weird for anyone watching basketball and Eli Roe blew a whistle. After a pause, he pointed to the nearest Bobcat and then called a jump-ball. This was like watching Shannon Brown try to run the point, it was just a poor performance on the court. The officiating really tightened up after the half and perhaps the refs had a chance to discuss how to handle things as a crew during the break. Maybe this was Larry’s intention?
Boris Diaw is a great addition to this team. He’s unselfish and exciting to watch. He really could be a fan favorite by the end of the season. If he could have hit that 3 pointer to win the game, he would have breezed to the top of the fan favs. The crew at the team store just might have been working overtime to make enough #32 jerseys to meet the wave of demand.