1. Another night at the Cable Box, another loss: 88-80 to the visiting Nuggets. AP story here, box score here. Bobcats drop to 2-5 – thank goodness for the Wizards, or we’d already be at the bottom of the division. Of note, Michael Jordan was not at the game – first home game that he hasn’t been at the end of the bench for this year.
2. Example #248 of the Bobcats broke-assedness: you know how on a holiday like Veterans Day, or Memorial Day or whatever, the local team will have a bunch of local servicemen and women at the game, filling up a whole row or section, in uniform, in decent seats? The Bobcats had 3 guys in marginal seats tonight. And they looked like they rather be in Iraq. To honor them, the dancers did a slightly less raunchy than usual routine while wearing slightly less slutty than usual clothes to Prince’s America. Not inspiring.
3. Back to the game: Denver was significantly shorthanded, playing tonight without Kenyon Martin and Chris Anderson. This left Nene as the only true big for the Nuggets (save Cheik Samb, who logged a few first half minutes). This should have made the matchup slightly better for the Bobcats, but it didn’t seem to make a difference at all. Of note, in the second half, the Nuggets went for a stretch without a true big at all. The Bobcats obliged with a smallball lineup of their own for several minutes, featuring Jared Dudley and Gerald Wallace as the “bigs”. Smallball usually equals freewheeling, high scoring basketball, but that was certainly not the case tonight.
4. This game ebbed and flowed quite like the Toronto game on Sunday, with neither team playing particularly well early on and the more talented team eventually pulling away. I again got the sense that the Nuggets were just toying with the Cats, content with expending just enough energy to secure the road win.
5. For the Nuggets, Carmelo played well. His offensive game is just beautiful, from the spot-up jumpers to the fadeaways to the post moves – he’s got the scoring thing down pat. But like the conventional wisdom says, he really doesn’t do too much else on the court. I don’t think you’ll ever win a championship with him as “the guy.” If he ever does, it will be late in his career as a second or third banana – a hired gun to put the ball in the basket.
6. Big shout to Renaldo Balkman, from my alma mater – Go Gamecocks! Balkman was great in picking up the slack for the Nuggets. 15 points on 6-9 FGs (without a play ever run for him), 7 rebounds (3 offensive) and 2 steals before fouling out in the waning minutes.
7. For the Bobcats, Sean May was active tonight. He played a few minutes to start the fourth quarter. On the first Bobcats offensive possession, he found himself open on a pick and pop. He launched it from 20 feet or so without hesitation and bricked it. Boos followed. It would seem that the fans have turned on him – this could get ugly, fast. That said, I’m sure if he had nailed the jumper, I’m sure there would have been applause; but the general zeitgeist of the crowd would lead me to believe it would have been sarcastic applause. This situation bears monitoring…
8. The Bobcats’ offense was putrid tonight. The starting five, in particular, has tremendous difficulty creating decent shots, much less hitting them. In the opening five minutes, they force-fed Emeka Okafor the ball in the post three times. All three times he had his shot blocked by Nene. The play-by-play doesn’t note Emeka’s first miss as being blocked, but believe me, it was. Look, I hope at the start of every year that Emeka will have worked on his low-post game in the off-season. If he had just one or two reliable moves from the block he would be so much more valuable. But it’s just not going to happen.
9. Jason Richardson had a decent game statistically, with 23 points on 9-16 FG and 4-7 3PTs, but it just wasn’t enough. He still doesn’t seem comfortable with where his shots are coming from in Brown’s system. In more maddening news, Raymond Felton spent a few minutes at the 2 again tonight. A bit more acceptable, given all the smallball going on, but still. Bad game for both PGs; Felton got into foul trouble and had to have his minutes limited as a result. Never fear, though, as Augustin’s play was equally miserable (1-9 FGs, 4 turnovers).
10. Latest Bobcats trade rumor: Carroll for Sean Williams and Trenton Hassell. I’d do this in a second (not that Sean Williams solves the Bobcats lack of a low-post offensive threat, but at least he’d provide Emeka with a little help down there). However, it doesn’t sound as if the Nets are as interested. Example #249 of the Bobcats broke-assedness: someone in the organization is making up and “leaking” fantasy trade scenarios that other teams realistically scoff at. Hmmmm, maybe that’s where Jordan was tonight…
11. Next game: Friday night at 7:00, hosting the Jazz.