The second episode of this back-to-back, away-and-home series should later be recalled as Nets-Cats Pt. 2 : Donaghy’s Ghost. Nets win in overtime 114-103 AP recap here. Boxscore here.
Although both teams were tied at the end of the first half and were tied and the end of the second half, the overtime session was removed from any of the ten players on the court. The Bobcats missed several close range shots, and the Nets hit a few open baskets to start the extra period. Just as the Bobcats started to close the gap, with the crowd on their side, things just fell into the judgement of the officiating crew. (Note : Referee Mark Wunderlich can Wunderlich my balls)
The stripes dictated this game based upon the past or perceived accomplishments of Nets stars Vince Carter and Devin Harris. (Btw, how many championship rings do those guys have?) Star recognition was a big factor for the Nets not only in overtime. Harris and Carter were somehow involved in enough plays to get 26 and 28 respectively, but inexplicably they only combined for 2 fouls. I think Tim Donaghy would be proud. Devin Harris certainly has been playing like an All-Star for about eight weeks, but it’s a bit early for him to get to the line every time he misses a shot. Harris is a solid point guard, but his stats in this game were bloated by the whistles that surrounded his defenders. Vince Carter is about 65% of the player he used to be but that really doesn’t matter when you still get 100% of the whistles that the refs used to blow for you. Ok, enough of that. . .
Offensively, the Charlotte Bobcats just didn’t have enough to demand the respect of the referees. Emeka Okafor struggled to establish himself posting up. His shots fell short and it appeared that most of that was caused by his less than adequate jumping. Back-to-backs look to wear on him. Boris Diaw never impacted the game after the first half. He had some impressive drives into the paint, but nothing worked for him in the second half.
Throughout the first half, Raja Bell led the Cats on offense. He exploited the Nets’ failed defensive rotations and made the most of each mismatch. Bell went out in the 3rd quarter with an injury, and didn’t return. For several plays the Bobcats looked sloppy on offense, and didn’t find a rhythm until the Nets had a strong lead going into the fourth.
Gerald Wallace took over the game after Bell’s injury. While he had scored 16 points in traditional Gerald Wallace fashion through the first 3 quarters, he switched to GForce for the fourth and carried the Cats to overtime. Raymond had several untimely turnovers, but really came through with a three point play to tie the game at 96 with seconds left in the fourth. A good crowd came out for the game, and this must have confused the officials. They must have thought that there was no way they could have been in Charlotte. The Nets seemed to have the home court advantage from then on.
Several tough calls against the Bobcats followed and when Josh Boone steamrolled over Gerald Wallace on a late Nets possession, Wallace was called for his 6th personal foul and the steam had boiled over. Wallace received a technical in his reponse to the call, and the Nets received credit for the Vince Carter shot that followed the whistle away from the ball.
Interestingly, Yi Jianlian never really stretched the offense for the Nets. His skills seem to better set for role like Dirk Nowitzki. The Nets appear to need much more from Yi inside. Early in the 3rd quarter Okafor threw down an vicious dunk on Yi. Down the court on the next play, Yi attempted to return the favor but it ended embarrassingly with a block by Emeka. Within a few minutes of play, Yi entirely air-balled an 18 footer. His next foul (4th) saw him pulled by Lawrence Frank never to return in the game.
NBA.com posted an article about Diaw and Bell’s involvement in Charlotte’s improvement.