Charlotte Bobcats @ Suns 1/26/10
Running diary-style, like usual for these late-starting Western Conference road games.
The Suns come in 26-20, in 7th place in the Western Conference. Leandro Barbosa is out after wrist surgery, Grant Hill will sit tonight with a heel, Amare Stoudemire is on the trading block, and I’ll be trying to catch my Gamecocks as they attempt to hang with John Jesus Christ Wall and the Wildcats on ESPN during commercial breaks. Let’s go.
In pregame, the crew mentions that Boris Diaw still owns a house in Phoenix, and got a haircut in his old hometown today. What, you can’t get a decent buzzcut in Charlotte?
Well, this is not quite like the start of the last Bobcats/Suns matchup — just 10 days ago at the Cable Box the Cats blitzed the Suns right out of the gates for a 43-22 first quarter on the way to a 125-99 win. Looking back, that was my favorite home game of the year so far. Here it’s 33-26 Suns after one — and the Suns are already 4-7 from 3PT range.
Boris led the way for the Cats with 12 points on 5-6 FG in the quarter.
42-36 Suns, 6:29 left and Amare picks up his 3rd foul and has to come out. Time for the Cats to make a run, and Jack gets a 3-point play on the ensuing possession — 42-39.
Ooof, after his great start to the season, Nazr Mohammed has really come down to earth over the last week or two. He’s 0-7 FG right now and I’m actually starting to look forward to seeing Tyson Chandler get back in the lineup.
Nice little kerfluffle between Raymond and Channing Frye as they draw double techs after jawing at each other. I’d take Raymond in a heartbeat in that one. Channing Frye does not want any of the pride of Latta, South Carolina.
Well, that’s no good. Despite holding Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire to a combined 2 points/0-8 FG in the first half, the Cats find themselves down 54-48. The Suns are 7-15 from 3-point range; the Cats are 0-4.
Meanwhile, Gamecocks/Wildcats is a far more compelling game at this point, despite my Gamecocks’ best efforts to slow the game down and ugly it up.
Nice little 7-2 push to open the second half for the Cats as they cut the Suns lead to 56-55, but can’t get over the hump and the Suns (Dudley, specifically) hit another three. And Nash with yet another three, 62-55, just like that.
And now its’ the Bobcats turn to heat up: Jack and Felton with back-to-back threes to cut it to one again — 62-61. But again they can’t get over the hump with a turnover, then giving up a Stoudemire layup on the other end.
Huge highlight there as Gerald Wallace smokes J-Rich on a behind-the-back-dribble from the left wing, then stuffs it on Stoudemire, who wisely didn’t challenge.
Wow: 8 times tonight the Cats have either cut the lead to one or tied it, only to see the Suns respond with a three. Amazing, just happened again with Nash, 72-69 Suns. Suns now 11-20 from three-point distance overall.
Bobcats hanging around – Stephen Jackson with another basket (14 so far this quarter) to make the score 77-73, but Amare gets Gerald back on the other end with big dunk.
Cats can’t break through, but Suns can’t pull away, either. 83-77 after three. By the way, Stoudemire gets 10 in the quarter, Nash 9 — shoulda kept my mouth shut.
Cats again cut it to one early in the quarter, 83-82, and yet again can’t get a stop on the other end, as the Suns get two straight buckets to bump the lead back out to 87-82. So frustrating…
And the Cats FINALLY do it. 6 straight to take the lead 88-87 and get a stop on the next possession. Only to give up back-to-back Nash and Frye threes soon after. Flip with a three to tie it back up 93-93 — back and forth. Fun finish on the way?
Gerald Wallace fouls out on a shaky offensive foul call with 3 minutes left. Ouch. Derrick Brown will get some key minutes.
Nash killing us here, with a big three, a big two and a steal. Suns up 3, 98-95 under a minute left. Jack with a big three!!! Tie game!!! Dudley misses a potential game-winner at the buzzer and we’re going to OT – 98-98. What a finish!
The Cats get the first two buckets of OT on a Jack jumper and a Felton drive; meanwhile, they turn up the pressure on the defensive end, getting multiple stops. Dudley answers with a three to make it 102-101, but Boris turns in two big plays in a row, hitting a runner for 104-101, then blocking Nash’s jumper on the other end.
Flip then gets a huge three for 107-101 to give the Cats some breathing room. Free throws from here on out could ice it.
And that’ll do it. Raymond hits 2-2 FT for a 114-109 lead with 9 seconds left; Nash can’t hit and that’s ballgame.
Huge win given the Bobcats’ struggles on the road this year (and combined with the Gamecocks’ upset win over Kentucky, I’ll be sleeping easy tonight). Even bigger considering that the Cats didn’t ever have a lead in this game until under 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Cats are now 1-1 on the Western Conference road trip so far, and back to .500 overall (the wallpaper lives another day!).
In overtime, the Cats did a nice job of playing to their strength — they tightened up on defense and forced a couple of turnovers, which led to a big clutch three from Flip to seal the deal.
Jack ended up with 30 points on 11-23 FG/4-8 3PT with 9 rebounds, 5 assists. Boris gets a double-double with 24 points/11 rebounds, and Gerald had 21/9 before fouling out.
The most glaring differences in the box score are turnovers (Bobcats 12, Suns 18) and points in the paint (Bobcats 54, Suns 36). The Suns ended with 15 threes to the Bobcats’ 7, but the Cats made up the difference by getting 25-30 FT to the Suns 16-17.
The Cats get a couple days off; next game is Friday night at 10:30 PM ET against the Warriors. I would say “let the slobbering over Steph Curry by the Charlotte media begin” but it already has.