The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Houston Rockets 99-89 on Friday night at the Cable Box behind a strong second half and double-doubles from Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace. The Cats started out sluggish (again) and were down by as much as 11 in the second quarter.
But the Bobcats starting five (Nazr Mohammed edition) took control in the third quarter and never looked back; they outscored the Rockets 54-37 in the second half. Now I’ll have to qualify this by noting that the Rockets were without Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming (and weren’t very good with them, anyways), but the way the Bobcats played in the second half was the closest to how they played last year during their playoff push that I’ve seen yet this year.
The Rockets were seriously underpowered. What happened to Kevin Martin? 16 quiet points; though apparently he is averaging 23 ppg this year. Just didn’t see it tonight.
Gerald had another tough shooting night (6-21 FG) but kept at it and ended up leading the Cats with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He had another spectacular block of a Chase Budinger breakaway jam that was wrongly called a foul.
Boris Diaw stole the show offensively in the second half, ending with 20 points (9-14 FG) on a mix of long and mid-range jumpers, hooks and scoops. He even had a strong drive to the bucket that ended in a near-dunk. I see in the play-by-play that it’s being credited as a dunk, and that’s very kind of the home scorekeeper. Boris also added 10 rebounds.
Stephen Jackson (16 points), Nazr Mohammed (15 points on 6-9 FG, 7 rebounds), and DJ Augustin (11 assists/1 turnover) all had nice games.
Off the bench, Ty Thomas was quiet, but Shaun Livingston had one of his better games as a Bobcat, with 10 points on 4-7 FG.
So this is my third year being a season-ticket-holder, and I’ve successfully avoided being shown on the scoreboard bigscreen. But tonight, I attended the game with Cardboard Gerald, and my streak was ended during the first possible break in the first quarter. Such is the power of Cardboard Gerald.
One of the LadyCats’ hair extensions fell out while she was dancing. I can cross that one off my Bucket List now.
The Bobcats are headed to Milwaukee for the second night of another back-to-back — 9PM ET start Saturday night.
The Bobcats had a lot more to gain than the Houston Rockets in this one. With Miami dropping a surprising loss against the Pistons on the same evening, Charlotte could have inched within a game of the East’s sixth seed with a win in Texas but the Rockets had other plans. Behind a tremendous fourth quarter scoring burst from PG Aaron Brooks, Houston sent the Bobcats packing 97-90. Bobcats drop to 42-37, still two games back of Miami.
Stephen Jackson has his well-documented faults (not to mention a very suspect, very expensive contract) but this was another game that shows us just how valuable JAX is to the Charlotte Bobcats success. For all of Gerald Wallace’s efforts this season (All-Star selection, rebounding boost), Stephen Jackson is clearly Charlotte’s MVP.
Coach Larry Brown made good on his promise to rest Jackson as the team closes in on the postseason. Brown stated that he wasn’t worried about Playoff seeding now that they’ve clinched, he’s more worried about being effective once they start playing. I can’t argue with that logic. Seeing the team play without Stephen Jackson tonight was a nice reminder.
Bobcats also rested Tyrus Thomas (thumb) and didn’t dress Theo Ratliff, who is still away on a personal matter. Charlotte will need them all healthy and ready for the Playoffs.
A Few Positives From a Tough Loss
Tyson Chandler. As terrible as Tyson was for four fifths of the season, he’s picking an awfully good time to return to form. Chandler with another big defensive game: 12 rebounds and 5 blocks to go along with 7 points. Two of those points were collected on, you are not going to believe this, a NON-DUNK! I saw it with my own eyes, folks. First points of the game. Tyson backs in Luis Scola, turns and rattles in a fadeaway 5-footer. In related news, an image of Jesus was seen in a Smuckers jar last night in Bessemer City, NC.
D.J. looks confident. His numbers weren’t as good as they were against New Orleans but I like the body language. He had a nice open court stop & pop in the first half that wouldn’t have taken much less made earlier in the year.
Larry Hughes looks better. Hughes stepped in and did a decent job as Jackson’s replacement going 5-13 for 16 points. My take on The Great Hughes-Graham Debate of 2010 goes like this: Coach Brown knows what Graham is going to give him. He’s a given. Brown is intrigued enough with Hughes and his abilities as a proven dynamic NBA scoring guard that he’s willing to gamble with him now in order to have another major scoring asset come Playoff time. That’s a good gamble to make because the ‘Cats will need all the scoring they can get.
Some Rockets Observations
Shane Battier wore a green Masters jacket on the bench. I swear I’m not making this up. Something gives me the feeling that Battier and Ron Artest never hung out in the offseason.
I wonder how strange it is for Rick Adlemen to watch Gerald Wallace today, almost ten years after he let the raw draft prospect languish at the end of Sacramento’s bench? Did Adlemen ever guess that this guy might one day be an All-Star, a legitimate post threat and one of the League’s top rebounders?
Chase Buddinger = Adam Morrison gone right. In fact, Buddinger shouldn’t even be compared to white wing players at all. He’s got incredible athleticism that allows him to go to the basket when his outside shot isn’t falling. After Chase elevated and threw one down on Tyson Chandler, Chandler seemed more confused than upset. It was like he just witnessed a Pug best a Cheetah in a footrace.
The Rockets must lead the league in “Undersized Players.” It seems everybody on the team is giving up a few inches or a few pounds at their respective positions: Kurt Lowry, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, Kevin Martin, etc.
Speaking of Chuck Hayes, he’s officially listed as the team’s starting center and he’s a maximum 6’5″ although he’s listed an inch taller but he’s built like a cement truck. Always a fan of undersized big men. Charles Barkley, LJ, and now Craig Smith and Hayes. Gotta love ’em.
Only three games left and then we got Playoffs baby!
Stephen Jackson led the Charlotte Bobcats to a 102-94 victory over the Houston Rockets at the Cable Box on Tuesday night. AP recap here, box score here. The Cats improve to 17-19 overall, and a stunning 14-4 at home.
The Cats gave up 60 points to the Rockets in a miserable defensive first half. Luis Scola’s crafty and scrappy offensive game was working, and Trevor Ariza, Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier and Chase Budinger took turns draining threes on the Cats’ lackadaisical perimeter defense. However, when the second half rolled around, the defensive intensity was ratcheted up. The Rockets would only get 17 points in each of the third and fourth quarters.
The Bobcats, who had been down by as much as 13 in the second quarter, chipped away in the third quarter and eventually overtook the Rockets in the fourth behind a Steven Jackson onslaught.
Jackson set a new career high and an all-time Bobcats single-game high in going for 43 points on 15-22 FG/3-5 3PT/10-11 FT He also added 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists/2 turnovers. Jack got off to a quick start, scoring 10 of the Bobcats first 14 points, and then finished huge. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Jackson was unstoppable with 16 points. He did a lot of his damage on the defensively hapless Chase Budinger, but also hurt Trevor Ariza a bunch.
Rockets defensive ace Shane Battier held Gerald Wallace to an off night, and occasionally guarded Jackson, but clearly not enough. Boris Diaw had a nice night with 19 points on 8-13 FG, 7 rebounds and 6 assists — and a 3-point play with 50 seconds that really sealed the deal.
The Cats kept turnovers low again, just 11.
That’s 14-13 since the Jack trade, 5 out of the last 6, and 5 home wins in a row.
No Derrick Brown or Gerald Henderson tonight as Brown has really tightened up the rotation. 45 minutes/game for Wallace, Diaw and Jackson is getting results now, but you have to wonder what the effects might be over the course of the long season.
The Cats are off for a couple days, then back in action for a fun home back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, hosting the Spurs and Suns, respectively.