1. The Bobcats hold serve at home tonight against the aimless LA Clippers, 94-73. AP story here, box score here. Bobcats go to 20-31; still 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot.
2. The final score is just a tad misleading. This was an ugly, sloppy and close game in the first half. The Bobcats pulled away a bit in the third, then put away a tired Clippers squad (finishing up a seven game road trip) in the fourth.
3. With Gerald Wallace (lung), Raja Bell (groin) and Juwan Howard (toe) out, the Bobcats started with DJ/Felton/Diaw/Okafor/Diop. New guy Vladimir Radmanovich, despite not having gone through a practice with the team yet, was the first reserve off the bench and ended up playing almost 30 minutes.
And Sean May played for the first time December 11. I’m pretty sure that I heard as recently as last week that he was still 6-8 pounds away from making weight, and I know he can’t lose a pound a day, so I was surprised to see him out there. He logged 6 minutes spanning the first and second quarters — and shouldn’t have. Within seconds of coming in he mishandled a Diaw pass for a turnover (charged to Diaw) and looked very tentative and rusty in general.
4. Let’s not bury the lead here, though. The story of the game was the successful debut of Radmanovich. He looked uncomfortable in the first half, but got in a groove later, and ended with 13 points (5-10 FG, 3-5 3PT), 4 rebounds and 2 assists. All three of his made three-pointers came during the decisive fourth quarter. Needless to say, he’s an upgrade over Morrison.
Since he’s got the rap of being a poor defensive player, I tried to watch him a bit on that end. While he’s a more athletic defender, and thus a better one, than Morrison, he tended to “freelance” a lot: slacking off his man to shut off some imaginary passing/cutting lane, taking weird routes through screens and such. Fortunately, the Clippers aren’t good enough to take advantage of that, but it will be interesting to see if a better team can.
5. Okafor had a nice game, with 19 points (8-14 FG), 16 rebounds (4 offensive) and 3 blocks. He was fairly aggressive in making cuts, post moves, and looking for his offense in general. I guess that’s what you do when you have Zach Randolph guarding you.
Nice game for DJ Augustin, too: 17 points on 7-10 FG.
6. Mixed bag from Raymond Felton. Good news: 15 points, 8 assists and a big +21 +/-. Bad news: 6-16 FG and 6 turnovers. As a Felton apologist who knows that it’s better for everyone if we trade him before the deadline, I’ve been working hard to divest and disengage myself from him. It’s coming along pretty well, too. Instead of an impassioned “Damnit Raymond!” every time he clanged a shot or had a bad turnover, tonight I mostly just nodded knowingly: that’s Raymond.
The way this is going, I should be able to call myself a former Raymond Felton apologist by the time the trade goes down.
7. Here’s all you need to know about the Clippers, from Marcus Camby:
“The last game of a trip, I’ve been around a long time, I know how these games can be tough… especially right before the All-Star break, you tend to lose a little focus. Your mind is elsewhere.”
The candor is refreshing, it really is. He might as well have just said: “Eff it, man, I’m exhausted and we suck. Besides, I’ve got to decide which resort I’m staying at in Cabo for the All-Star break. Can’t make up my mind…”
8. So after some of the home games in February, the team is letting some season ticket holders into the backstage area to “send off” the players. Tonight was my night, and I stayed for about 45 minutes or so — not long enough to see everyone come out, but enough. Juwan Howard came first, then Singletary, Bell, Felton, Radmanovich, Wallace, Diaw and Ajinca. All the guys were unfailingly gracious and polite, signing autographs, taking pictures, shaking hands and making small talk with the fans. Raja Bell was downright chatty; Boris Diaw’s ability to ham it up made him a big hit with the younger fans.
Like most Bobcats fans, my wife’s favorite player is Gerald Wallace. As he made his way down the line, I tried to goad her into getting a picture with him — see, she’s loathe to bother someone famous with a request like that. It is sorta embarrassing for both parties on many levels. Her last line of protest was: “But he always looks so mean, I don’t want to annoy him.” Alas, she got over it and asked, and here’s the result:
So much for looking mean. Thanks, Gerald!
9. Next game is the last one before the break: Wednesday night, hosting the Wizards at 7:00 ET.