Cats Pass Overtime Reform In DC

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Wizards 3/23/10

In sharp contrast to their overtime no-show last week in Atlanta, the Charlotte Bobcats went for the kill and dominated the extra period against the Washington Wizards Tuesday night to break a two game losing streak and maintain their hold of 7th place in the conference.

AP recap here | Box score here

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Hit Jump Shots

Despite thoroughly dominating the Wiz in the paint (at last count I had the Points in Paint differential at 50-20) the Bobcats couldn’t buy a decent jumper.  Check out the shot chart: The Bobcats only made one three pointer and a total of four shots outside of twenty feet for the ENTIRE GAME + OVERTIME.  The poor outside shooting dropped the Bobcats’ overall shooting percentage for the game to 39.4% even though interior players Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff and Tyrus Thomas shot better than 50% from down low.

Stephen Jackson takes most of the blame again tonight.  I’m hoping that his recent struggles shooting the ball are just the result of a slump.  It’s not pretty, folks (Warning: These stats are NSFW): For the month of March, JAX is 38% from the floor, 25% from downtown while adding over 3 turnovers a game.  Yet inexplicably the Bobcats went to Jackson at the end of regulation for the win with just :08 on the clock.  JAX measures, fakes and finally launches a guarded three.  Clank.  We’re goin’ to OT.

Once in OT, it was again the Raymond Felton show – Ray hit two quick buckets to set the tone for the extra period, solidifying his place as the Bobcats most clutch scorer.

MJ Has Assembled A Lot of Talent

The Wiz announcers brought it up and I’ll bring it up again, the Bobcats have a lot of talent on this roster.  While it is frustrating to watch a team with so much talent struggle in a road win against a lottery squad like the Wiz, you can’t help but be amazed at how deep the team is compared to roster just two seasons ago.  Tyson Chandler continued his recent progress with eight boards and five points in 19 minutes.  Tyrus Thomas looked solid with a 7 & 7 off the pine in 20 minutes.  D.J. showed flashes of competence.
Lord Stephen Graham, who dropped consecutive 19 point games in Crash’s absence last week didn’t even make it off the bench but is now a proven asset.  The young players stuck to the end of the bench (Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown and Alexis Ajinca) have all shown promise.  The team’s two injured centers (Nazr Mohammed & Gana Diop), despite unsightly contracts, are legitimate players in the League.  Oh, and then there’s the starting center…

Theo Ratliff

If I’m Dwight Howard, then I’m enrolling in the Theo Ratliff mentoring program this summer.  The 15 year vet was supposed to be a last ditch insurance policy in case Diop, Mohammed or Chandler couldn’t make it back.  Turns out that the Cats stole a 6ppg, 4.5rpg, 1bpg quality big man at the deadline for nothing.  He hits his free throws too.  Theo is 20-21 from the line in March — that’s good for 95% from the stripe.  Ratliff played great again tonight against the Wiz dropping 10 points and 7 boards.  What’s most amazing about the 36 year old is how spry he is after all these years.  Obviously genetics and body type help — he’s more in the mold of a Kareem or Mutumbo than an O’Neal or Walton — but damn, I never saw this type of performance coming.

Bullets

  • I’m sure Chad Ford and John Hollinger would love the Wizards’ future.  Unfortunately the present pretty much sucks.  Their players look very skilled but very raw.  I’m not sure if Flip Saunders is the right type of coach to grow these young players into a contender.  I’m certain that this isn’t what he signed up for as the Wiz seemed primed to make a Playoff push with an aggressive offseason that brought in sharpshooter Mike Miller and bench sparkplug Randy Foye from Minny in exchange for Ricky Rubio-induced blueball.
  • Speaking of Minny (whom the Cats will be facing off against at home on Wednesday night), not only do the Wizards employ the T’Wolves former head coach in Flip Saunders but they’ve also brought everyone’s favorite Roswellian and former Wolves PG, Sam Cassell, into the mix as an assistant.  I wonder if we’ll ever catch Cassell flaunting his phantom elephant testicles after diagramming a good play.
  • The Wolves game is the start of a five game homestand for the ‘Cats.  If they can take care of business in at least four of those (especially against TOR early next week), then they’ll have pretty much locked up their first Playoff appearance.

Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Heat Out-Hustle Bobcats in Ugly Loss

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Charlotte Bobcats@Heat 3/20/10

Another day, another winnable game lost — this time a wasted opportunity against a fellow Eastern Conference Playoff contender.  The Miami Heat do nothing special in this one except for playing a little less worse than the Bobcats and win the game 77-71, leapfrogging Charlotte in the standings to take over sixth place by a half game.

AP recap here | Boxscore here

It’s the Little Things That Count

Dwayne Wade hardly dominated from a scoring perspective (6-18 from the field) but his fingerprints were all over the Heat’s win.  Wade registered 5 blocks including two MIND BLOWING rejections (one in waning seconds of the first half on Tyson Chandler and the other on Tyrus Thomas in the open court midway through the fourth quarter) and nine, count ‘em nine assists to go along with five boards and fourteen points.  The very definition of a leader, DWADE did whatever he could to put the Heat in a position to win.

Fugly Stats

Bobcats shot 29.2% from the field and commit 5 TOs.  You just can’t win a game like this folks.  The final margin of victory would’ve been much greater for Miami had they not spotted the ‘Cats with an extra fourteen free throw attempts (20 compared to 34).  Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace take most of the blame here by going for a combined 8-33 from the field.  It wasn’t like the Heat were playing suffocating full court defense, the ‘Cats just weren’t hitting anything.  Fatigue could be an excuse as Charlotte just came off of Friday night’s OT loss at Atlanta but with the stakes this high this close to Playoff time, it’s just not an acceptable excuse.  The ‘Cats just weren’t moving the ball enough and were settling for too many one and done long jumpers.

Amazingly, as bad as the Bobcats played against the Heat they had the game tied 61 with just 8:59 to go in the 4th.  Miami was just closing out quarters strong and the 4th was no different — a 10-0 run put this baby to sleep.

Bullets

  • Some Positive News: Tyson Chandler looked decent for once.  He played 33 minutes and grabbed eleven boards and swatted three shots.  He ran the floor well and looked engaged mentally.  As down as I am on Chandler, having him play well could only do good things for the Bobcats both short-term (teaming with Nazr Mohammed as a two-headed center platoon) and long-term (elevating his trade-bait status going into the offseason).
  • Seeing that I’m also down on D.J. Augustin, I should at least offer some constructive criticism: D.J. needs to work on a stop & pop jumper from about 15 feet and a quick & crafty floater from the paint.  As of right now, the only outcome to Augustin’s dribbling into the lane is a blocked shot or a turnover.  At least with a floater and a Nash-like stop & pop he could get his shot off before anyone has a chance of swatting it away.
  • Larry Hughes made his debut at 10:30 in the 2nd and promptly had his shot swatted by Dorrell Wright.  Yes, there were lots of blocked shots in this game by Miami (13 to be exact).
  • Sparse crowd in Miami.  Looked about as bad as the Pacers crowd last week in Indy.
  • Right before the half the Heat broadcast team put together a little video package featuring the Greatest Centers in the Heat’s 22 year history.  Sad.  The Hornets could be doing something similar back in the CLT.  The Carolinas are all about tradition and it would have been great to walk into the Cable Box and see LJ, DC, Muggsy, Glen Rice and Zo’s jerseys’ hanging from the rafters.
  • Quentin Richardson Sighting!  The journeyman gunner dropped six threes in the first half, breaking a Heat team record.

At 35-34, the Bobcats are only a half game over .500 and just a half game up on Toronto for 7th place in the conference.  Fortunately the ‘Cats have the lowly Wizards twice this week sandwiching a home date against the T’Wolves.  If they don’t go 3-0 heading into the 29th home game against Toronto, then something is very, very wrong with this team.

Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Get By Clippers; Wallace Leaves With Sprained Ankle

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Clippers 3/12/10

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their fifth straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night.  Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats with 24 points (9-21 FG) and 6 assists.  The Clippers actually outshot the Cats 57.5% to 54.2%, but committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Cats 36-30.

AP recap here |  Box score here

The Cats built a 61-45 lead by halftime, then coasted through the second half, withstanding a half-hearted fourth quarter push by the rag-tag, Eric Gordon-less Clippers.  With the win, the Cats move to 33-31 overall, 6th place in the East, and ensured their best ever home record with their 24th victory at the Cable Box.

But it was a play right at the end of the first half that will be causing Cats fans consternation in the coming days.

Crash

With the Cats already on a 6-0 run and causing the Clippers all sorts of problems closing out the first half, Gerald Wallace poked the ball away from Baron Davis.  Wallace had been dominant in the first half, with 17 points (7-8 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The loose ball went to Stephen Jackson, who flipped it ahead to Wallace, already at full speed.  Gerald flew down the court with just seconds left on the clock, a step or two ahead of Baron.  But as Gerald took off and glided towards the basket, Baron caught up enough to make some contact.

Most of the contact he made was basically a cheap push in Gerald’s lower back with his left hand.  Gerald was fully extended and essentially defenseless, and was sent careening towards the basket support in a manner that we’ve certainly seen in the past, but not this season.  Gerald landed awkwardly on his left ankle and immediately grabbed for it.

Larry Brown soon made his way over as Gerald rolled around on the floor.  The rest of the bench was up and visibly upset. Raymond Felton fretted with both hands on his head; assistant coach Phil Ford angrily slapped some rolled up papers against his other hand.  Angry boos rained down; Baron’s perfunctory concern for Gerald and the fact that a flagrant foul was called was enough to prevent a minor incident.

Gerald was eventually able to get up and hit one of the two free throws to give the Cats 61-45 halftime lead, but headed straight back to the locker room with the trainers after that.  He reportedly had negative x-rays on the ankle, but did not return to the bench (or the game) for the second half.

With the Bulls having fallen off a cliff without Joakim Noah (and now without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose), there’s no longer much danger of the Cats finishing out of the playoff race.  But we can hardly afford to be without Gerald for too long as we try to jockey for the 6th seed and the right to play Boston (or possibly Atlanta) in the first round.  7th or 8th place buys us a matchup with the Magic or Cavs, respectively.  This season’s victories over the Cavs notwithstanding, both of those series would probably result in the Bobcats getting swept or nearly swept.

6th place or bust — Get Well Soon Gerald!

Lotsa Tidbits

  • David Stern has rubber-stamped Michael Jordan’s purchase of the Bobcats; all that remains is for the league’s board of governors to agree sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In something of a surprise, Stern indicated that the purchase price was around $275 million (not $175 million as had been rumored last week) and that Jordan put up all of the money.  He apparently is still trying to line up minority investors, but still…
  • Gana Diop was apparently planning to dress for tonight’s game, but had dizzy spells after a Thursday workout and will miss several games while getting worked up.  Check the first comment under the post in that link, it says all you need to know about this story — Cats fans are already fantasizing about a career-ending heart condition for Gana and the salary cap relief it would provide.
  • After giving up and selling the Bobcats, Bob Johnson is mercifully killing off his stupid horse-jumping competition.
  • Tyson Chandler had another solid game off the bench: 13 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Here’s some food for thought for the weekend from the Wall Street Journal: there is a 50/50 split in the NBA between teams who employ dedicated statistical/data analysts.  The teams that do have a 60% winning percentage this season, while the teams that don’t are at 40%.  Now I was pretty sure that the Bobcats don’t, but a line in the story seems to contradict that (the line about only the Suns, Hawks and Jazz being the only playoff teams that don’t).  Anyone know for sure if the Cats do?
  • Larry Hughes, anyone?
  • Next game is Sunday evening at 6 PM in Orlando versus Superman and the Magic.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Decimate 76ers For Fourth Straight Victory

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Charlotte Bobcats @ 76ers, 3/10/10

The Bobcats took care of business Wednesday night in Philadelphia, soundly defeating the 76ers 102-87.  The Cats are now 32-31 and in 7th place in the East with 19 games left in the season.

AP recap here |  Box score here

After briefly falling behind by a few points in the opening minutes of the game, the Cats got it rolling and went on to score 37 points in the opening quarter.  They dominated the rest of the way, leading by as much as 29 late in the third quarter.  The Cats shot 50% on the game and basically made this one look easy.

Gerald Wallace led the way with a 28 point effort on 9-10 FG and 10-11 FT.  Stephen Jackson had another off night shooting the ball (6-19 FG, 2-7 3PT) but added 10-11 FTs for 24 points overall and added 10 rebounds for a double-double.

The Sixers looked dreadful in turning the ball over 20 times and committing 27 fouls, putting the Cats on the line for 41 free throw attempts.

What A Difference A Week Makes

Just  seven days ago, the Bobcats were coming off a bad loss to the Celtics, their 6th out of 8 at the time.  They had fallen a full game off the 8th playoff spot and their Hollinger projection had fallen down to around a 60% chance of making the playoffs.

Cut to tonight: the Cats have won four in a row, including rousing victories over the Lakers and Heat and tonight’s road win over the Sixers.  The Cats are now in 7th place in the East, only a half-game out of the 6th spot, and hold the tiebreaker over the 8th place Heat.

DJ has his groove back (10 points, 5 assists tonight), Tyson Chandler is looking semi-competent as he works his way back into shape, and Gerald Henderson has broken into the rotation.  If we can get Nazr Mohammed back into the lineup, we could potentially go 9 deep in the playoffs, with Henderson, Stevie Graham and Derrick Brown available for spot minutes in a pinch.

Tidbits

  • As alluded to above, Tyson Chandler had his best game since coming back from his foot/ankle issues.  He scored 12 points on 3-3 FG and 6-9 FT and added 5 rebounds in 15 minutes.  Of course, that was against Sam Dalembert, Elton Brand and Jason Smith, but whatever.
  • Next game is Friday night — the Cats will be hosting the similarly reeling LA Clippers at 7 PM ET.  The Clips have lost 5 in a row, and will be on game 5 of a 6 game road trip.  I’ll be there tweeting live at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Stump Lakers Again

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Lakers, 3/5/10

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 98-83 in front of a packed house at the Cable Box on Friday night.  AP recap here, box score here.  With the win, the Bobcats avenged their loss to the Lakers in LA earlier this season and continue their mastery over the elite squad — the Cats have now won 7 of their last 9 against the Lakers.  More importantly, the victory keeps the Cats in the hunt for the Eastern Conference playoffs, one game behind 8th place Miami.

The Lakers held a modest lead through most of the first quarter; the Cats overtook them in the second and steadily built on the lead through the third and fourth as the Lakers faded.  Stephen Jackson led the Cats in scoring with 21 points on 7-14 FG.

This was a weird game for numerous reasons.  First, the Lakers looked spent and/or disinterested.  We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was spent, after an overtime loss in Miami on Thursday night.  Kobe played well enough (9-21 FG for 26 points) but didn’t get any help from his supporting cast — the rest of the team shot 34%.

Then, though it was a packed house on a Friday night against a superstar and his elite team, the energy in the arena was just a bit off.  It was as if all the Kobe/Laker fans were infected with the same malaise that seemed to infect Pau Gasol (5-14 FG, 3 turnovers), Ron Artest (1-9 FG), Shannon Brown (3-9 FG, 3 turnovers) and Lamar Odom (4 turnovers).  Meanwhile, Bobcats fans appear to be in a mixed state of anxiety and straight-up confusion: Is this a playoff team or not?  3-1 vs the Cavs, beating the Lakers down, but losing two to the Nets?  Wha?

Perhaps the strangest development was seeing Gerald Henderson on the floor.  The first round draft pick has been languishing on the bench, looking not-ready-for-prime-time in his brief appearances.  But tonight, Gerald played 12 minutes — including an important stretch spent guarding Kobe Bryant in the second quarter — and looked good.  He jacked up 7 shots, hit 3, and added 2 rebounds, a steal and a block and no turnovers.  Maybe it was just because Stephen Jackson got into foul trouble guarding Kobe, maybe Larry Brown could sense that he needed to tweak the rotations as the Cats had gone stale over the past couple of weeks, maybe Henderson’s been showing signs of “getting it” in practice recently.  Whatever the reason, it was great to see him out there contributing.

Tidbits

  • Surreal moment during pregame warmups when Lamar Odom came over to Ric Flair courtside for an enthusiastic exchange of dap.  And you have the marvel at Charlotte’s relationship with the Nature Boy — less than two weeks after his wife was arrested after a “domestic incident” at his house, the Bobcats dragged him out to center court to cut a promo before the fourth quarter to a chorus of “whooo”s .  That’s our Naitch.
  • Tyson Chandler was active for the first time in weeks and acquitted himself nicely with 6 points (2-2 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 rebounds and a block in 15 minutes of relief of Theo Ratliff.  Then again, it’s sad when I’m handing out compliments to a player who’s making $12 million for 15 decent minutes.
  • Tyrus Thomas continues to impress: 7-12 FG for 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 more blocks.  This guy is a keeper.
  • DJ had another of his patented “every dozen games or so, I’ll play great so you think I’m breaking out of my sophomore slump” games: 5-8 FG for 12 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in 22 minutes.
  • Adam Morrison played a few minutes for the Lakers — when he checked in in the second quarter, he actually got booed.  Not sure I can get behind that.  Then, during garbage minutes in the fourth, the crowd was egging him on to shoot every time he touched the ball.  He didn’t oblige  Thank goodness, because it sure felt snarky — like egging on the mentally challenged team manager who gets to dress out on senior night to shoot, so that you can guffaw if he misses or get a cheap thrill if he happens to make it.  Anyways, I hope Ammo finds some peace playing overseas next year, or maybe on the professional XBox 360 circuit.
  • Next game is Saturday night against Steph Curry and the Warriors in a rare home-home back-t0-back.  Tipoff is at 7:00 PM ET as usual — I’ll be there and tweeting.

-Dr. E

Mavs Continue Dominance Of Bobcats

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Mavs 3/1/10

The Charlotte Bobcats fell to the Dallas Mavericks at the Cable Box 89-84, falling to 0-12 versus Dirk and Co. all time.  AP recap here, box score here.  After fleetingly moving up into the 8th spot when Miami lost back-to-back games over the weekend, the Cats have fallen back to 9th place in the East at 28-30 overall.

The Cats came out strong in this one, building an early 20-9 lead midway through the first quarter.  Another spurt to end the second had the Cats up 53-43 at the half.  Tyrus Thomas had a great first half, keeping Dirk quiet on the defensive end and pacing the Cats with 12 points.

But the second half was a different story, as the Cats could only muster 31 points the rest of the way and were overtaken midway through the fourth quarter.  The offense looked like a hot mess.

Here’s what you need to know: The Cats had more turnovers (11) in the second half than field goals (9).  Tyrus Thomas led the Cats with 16 FGA.  Gerald Wallace had just 8, with only 1 (a 20 foot jumper) in the deciding fourth quarter.  Stephen Jackson finished with 20 points on 6-14 FG, but spent more time fussing at referees and turning the ball over (6 times) than scoring.  There were three airballs in the fourth quarter, plus a monumental brick by Boris on a three attempt.

Meanwhile, despite decent defensive efforts from Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas, Dirk Nowitzki heated up and finished with 27 on 12-23 FG to put the Cats away.  Caron Butler went for 22 on 10-16 FG, while Jason Terry contributed 20 on 8-17 FG off the bench.  The Mavericks are now the hottest team in the league with 8 wins in a row.

Fading

Why did the Cats fade so badly after a solid first half?  You could argue that the Cats don’t have a go-to guy like Dirk, who can get buckets and draw double-teams.  You’d be partially right, but in Stephen Jackson we have the closest thing we’ve ever had to that guy, and he’s been pretty good this season.

You could argue that the pressure of facing the elite Mavericks, knowing that they were winless against them all-time, got to the Cats and caused some tightness.  I couldn’t prove you wrong.  It’s certainly happened before.

But tonight it appeared that the main factor was fatigue.  I tweeted halfway through the fourth quarter that the Bobcats looked to have “run out of gas” and I was right.  You could just feel the exhaustion and sense that the Mavs had more in the tank.  (Sad, since they were coming off a late back-to-back AND are more veteran-heavy than the Cats are.)

We’ve been worried about it all season.  Gerald Wallace leads the league at 42.4 minutes per game, while Stephen Jackson is sixth at 39.5.  Now look at the the rest of the guys at the top of that list (Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, etc.) — all younger.  Crash and Jack have too many miles on them to be playing 40+ minutes a game regularly, and I fear that we’re starting to see all that court time take a toll.

Tidbits

  • Glad that Jordan finally bought the team, hope it leads to him being around and engaged more often, but I could care less whether he plays HORSE with Gerald Henderson at shootaround or gladhands local politicians.  Wake me when he does some real homework and makes a good first round draft selection, or shows some understanding of the salary cap.
  • No Nazr (back spasms), Chandler (foot/ankle) or Diop (knee) tonight.  Really could use Nazr back playing 15-20 mins, then Theo playing 10.  Might allow Gerald to get a couple more minutes of rest.
  • So the Cats won’t be signing Larry Hughes or Mike James, but what about Michael Finley?  Sounds like he’s headed for the Celtics or Lakers, and not sure how much he brings to the table anymore, but you’d hope that Jordan/Higgins at least make a call.  Is Finley still a Brand Jordan guy?
  • Next game is Wednesday night in Boston — sounds like Pierce will be back in the lineup.

-Dr. E

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