Charlotte Bobcats @ Chicago 4/3/10
Without Stephen Jackson for most of the second half, the Charlotte Bobcats still managed to lead the game until midway through the 4th quarter but a motivated Chicago Bulls team stormed back from a six point deficit to win the game 96-88 to move just three games back of the Bobcats in the Eastern Playoff race.
The Undisputed Alpha
Those of you who suffered along with me during the Bobcats Opening Night Massacre in Boston (92-59) will remember how painfully lost and dysfunctional this team looked pre-Captain Jack. A team of selfless role players was in desperate need of an alpha. Just a few games after he was acquired, Stephen Jackson assumed that role and the Bobcats never looked back, going 37-27 since November 22nd. While Gerald Wallace might be the clubhouse leader and an NBA All-Star, there’s no doubting who is more irreplaceable. During a three game absence in mid-March, the Bobcats beat the OKC Thunder and the Magic in Orlando as Wallace recuperated from an ankle injury. Tonight against the Bulls, in a tough-fought game with postseason ramifications, the ‘Cats were without their Alpha for the final quarter when they desperately needed some clutch buckets to counter the Bulls run. But they couldn’t do it. Captain Jack was sitting on the bench, seemingly wrapped head to toe, nursing a variety of injuries. Pressure was not made love to this evening. Pressure had a TV dinner, a half-pint of Häagen Dazs and fell asleep reading a cheap romance novel.
- Just three home games and three road dates remain for the Bobcats. None of them gimmes. Home against the Hawks (tough), at New Orleans and Houston (not easy) on a mini road trip and then home dates against the Pistons and Bulls sandwiched by a final meeting with the Nets in Jersey. Obviously, the Bulls season finale is important but if the ‘Cats win at least three of the next four, they should have their first Playoff birth locked up for good, regardless.
- Kirk Hinrich torched the ‘Cats tonight with 24 points on 9-12 shooting but this was an aberration — Hinrich is only averaging 10ppg on 39% shooting for the year. Still, if the Bulls could get Rose and Hinrich to play consistently together as they did tonight, they’d have a hell of a backcourt rotation.
- Charlotte’s heralded free throw opportunity advantage disappeared tonight. Chicago won the battle with 21-16 shots from the stripe.
- If Larry Hughes is supposed to be Flip Murray’s replacement, he did a good job keeping up with him tonight. Murray: 2-10 for 5 points, Hughes: 4-14 for 14 points. Hughes won the headband contest as well 1-0.