1. This game came down to execution. (©®2005 Adrian Branch)
The Bobcats don’t seem to be very excited about playing basketball these days. 16 Turnovers (8 in the final quarter) and Shaq-inspired free throw shooting may have been the quantifiable sources of damage but in reality, it was the team’s “We have 3 meaningless road games remaining” attitude that did them in. The adrenaline that had fueled the ‘Cats late season charge has joined Raja Bell on the inactive list. The Bulls simply had more motivation to win.
2. Ben Gordon.
Ben Gordon had his yearly superstar game against the Bobcats tonight. England’s favorite combo guard went for 39 on 13-25 shooting including 7-12 from the three point line. I’ve been trumpeting an Iverson signing for the past month but if the team can’t pull off the AI move then perhaps Air Gordon makes for a good backup plan. Ben is a real deal scorer who can kill you from the perimeter and has incredible three-point range. My only issue is that he’ll probably demand a lot more money than he’s really worth. Besides, the Bulls may decide to keep him after seeing how well that Gordon/Rose backcourt combo has worked this season.
3. Derrick Rose paid DJ Augustin back in full this evening with 22pts on 10-16 shooting and dishing out 7 assists – DRose was also largely responsible for putting the ‘Cats behind early by hitting his first six shots from the field. While DJ hardly had a bad game (15pts on 5-13 with 8 dimes), it becomes very obvious very quickly who the better prospect is when seeing the two matched up against each other. Rose has between 4″-5″ inches on DJ and a heck of a lot longer wingspan. This allows Rose to drive into the lane and finish those runners that DJ often attempts and be a much tougher defender while guarding opposing PGs. Rose blocked one shot (officially) and altered a few more from DJ and Raymond. Great move by Paxson again for taking Rose over Beasley when need and logic dictated otherwise.
4. So at some point during the second quarter, the Bulls PA system started playing Janet Jackson’s “Alright” (from the Rhythm Nation album) and then the camera cut to Brad Miller guarding Juwan Howard and then cut again to Kid ‘n Play sitting courtside (ok, the first two things really did happen, I just added the third).
5. Bright spots for the Bobcats? Well, during a lot of the second quarter and all of the third the team looked great. Raymond in particular played well with 26pts (10-17) and 7 assists (5 TOs) doing something of a Ben Gordon imitation to bring the team back from the horrid first quarter. Diaw looked great in the third quarter as he stretched out the Bulls D with a couple of 3s and some assorted Euro-Moves. Is Diaw the “least cut” NBA player under 7-feet btw? Any guesses as to the total amount of time Boris has spent in the weight room (lifetime)? Under 20 hours? 10? Anybody?
6. And speaking of Boris, I was going to hypothesize a potential friendship between the ‘Cats French forward and the Bulls half-French center before I remembered that Joakim Noah doesn’t have any friends and that nobody likes him. Not even French people. I say that we team up Joakim and Adam Morrison on the Clippers or Bucks and then have Adam pull his inevitable “school-shooting” routine and take care of both careers at once.
7. Lets talk about Dontell Jefferson for a moment. As promising as young Dontell looked in the OKC game on Friday, he looked equally as horrendous against the Bulls on Saturday. Technically accounting for only 2 TOs and 4 Personal Fouls in 13 minutes, Bulls color man Stacey King went as far as calling him “The Human Turnover.”
8. Speaking of Stacey King, he had another good one when describing Radman’s new beard: “Radmanovic lookin’ like he just entered the Witness Protection Program or somethin’.”
9. Back to that third quarter, not only did the Bobcats play proper basketball and take a 83-78 lead heading into the fourth BUT Gana Diop hit consecutive free throws! Of course, all this did was offset the back to back missed technical free throws by DJ and Raymond.
10. And what about Mr. Diop??? What a strange player this guy is. Looking at the stats, you’d think he’s pretty much the most useless player in the League but strangely – watching the game – you can see that he has a defensive impact. Opposing players respect him and he provides very good insurance in case Emeka would ever go down with an injury.
11. The season is basically over but I’m optimistic for next year.
For one, unlike other crap lottery teams, the Bobcats always play better against good teams. They don’t shrink when the pressure is on and that is a good sign for a team that should go into next year’s post-season with 45+ wins.
Also this team plays well DESPITE the fact that they don’t really have a FIRST or even a SECOND scoring option. I mean as of now Raymond is the defacto scorer but he’s a 4th option at best on a good team. Diaw is a great facilitator, GFORCE is a scorer who doesn’t need plays called for him, Okafor is a human double-double who doesn’t need plays either, Raja would rather find himself open on the perimeter…I mean, is this team tailor-made for Allen Iverson or what? He’d get 28 shots a night, easy.
Regardless of the current horse-show road trip malaise, I applaud Coach Larry Brown and the Bobcats for providing Charlotte fans with the most entertaining product yet.
Enjoy the loss, Bobcats fans…