The Bobcats keep hope alive with a 97-91 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at the Cable Box. Nazr Mohammed led the way with 18 points and 8 boards, while Tyrus Thomas returned to the lineup with 14 and 7 off the bench.
The first half was ugly. In front of tons of empty seats, the Raptors went on a 20-2 run to take a 12 point lead in the first quarter. Stephen Jackson was in foul trouble early and couldn’t get anything going as the Raptors took a 6 point lead into halftime. The vibe in the arena was very negative; there was even some faint booing directed at the home team at a couple of points.
Halftime brought a ceremony inducting Michael Jordan into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. It began with a quick and dirty, but nicely done Jordan highlight video (NCAA championship game winner, “look at that!” dunk, free-throw dunk from NBA dunk contest, game winner on Ehlo, switch-hands layup against Lakers, game winner against Jazz, etc. — the big stuff) that ended with Jordan taking ownership of the Bobcats. Jordan came out to mid-court accompanied by Dean Smith, accepted his ring and plaque, and gave brief, gracious speech — no piss and vinegar like from the Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.
At that point, most of the Bobcats had made their way back onto the corner of the court to watch. Jordan shook hands with some of the other members of the Hall and spent another few moments with Dean Smith.
The crowd lapped it up and rightfully so. It was a good ceremony. More importantly, and maybe I’m naive for thinking this, but the Bobcats lapped it up, too. OK, maybe “lapped it up” is too strong; they came out in the second half with a better effort, and I can’t help but think the positive atmosphere created by Jordan’s ceremony helped with that.
The Bobcats quickly evened things up in the third quarter, traded leads early in the fourth, and pulled away late as the Raptors self-destructed with backup guard Jerryd Bayless trying to run the show.
Jackson never did get it going (7 points, 3-8 FG), garnering a tech and eventually fouling out in the fourth. Gerald Wallace tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 mildly tweaked ankle (left). Matt Carroll played crunchtime and had a really nice assist to Boris with under a minute left to help the Cats pull away.
- So I missed the DeRozan dunk live. I was looking down at my phone — damn Twitter. I looked up in time to see the backboard shaking and the Raptors bench freaking the hell out. Rightfully so, now that I’ve seen the highlight.
- There should be a name for the phenomenon where a traditional center starts, plays significant portions of the first and third quarters, is quietly effective, but then sits the fourth quarter as both teams go small and athletic. Can we name it the Nazr Paradox?
- So the Bobcats are at 9-15, a game-and-a-half out of the 8th playoff spot. Barring a shakeup or a miracle, it’s pretty clear that this is where this team will hang out most of the season. Every marginal victory like tonight strings us along, hoping for a spark, a 4 game win streak to get back in the thick of things.
- The Bobcats will be on the road in Memphis for a back-to-back tomorrow night, 8 PM ET start.