Don’t call it a comeback!! Umm, because it wasn’t
one. Neither of them was, actually. Charlotte hosted two-thirds of the Texas Triangle this week, and although we threatened to win at times in both games, our efforts slowly deteriorated—much like Tom Coughlin’s face in the NFC Championship Game. That we didn’t win either game is kind of sad, but hardly surprising—like hearing Ike Turner’s cause of death was a cocaine overdose. There are some reasons to be optimistic, though.
First, Gerald Wallace—our 6’7” can of Red Bull—doesn’t appear to be injured (at least, anymore than he usually is) after he pulled up lame against Memphis and San Antonio. As an added bonus, Crash also seems to have ditched that ill-fated attempt at cornrows and gone back to his traditional, mid-sized econo-'fro.
Second, neither announcer in either game used the silly, superfluous phrase, “He can do that.” I’ve started to hate that phrase, and I’m sorry to say that I first noticed it coming from the mouth of one of our own: the late, great Matt Devlin. Yes, yes, I know he’s a legend, but Matt had the unfortunate tendency to say, “He can do that” a lot. And then a lot of announcers began invoking the “he can do that” tendency. What’s the problem with “he can do that?” Well, it’s right uttered after the player did,
in fact, do that. It doesn’t matter what the “that” was—in Matt’s case, for example, the “that” was often Brevin Knight pulling up and hitting a 15-foot jumper, followed inevitably by Matt saying, “He can do that.” This in turn would cause me, sitting at home, to say aloud, “Yes, Matt, obviously
he can do that, because we all just watched
it.” And now it’s everywhere; it had a bizarre viral spread to all the announcers. Now it seems everyone loves to note unnecessarily that a player "can do that"…except in these last two games, and for that I’m optimistic. Speaking of Brevin, I’m happy to see he’s been suiting up for most of the season with the Clips. Be wary, though, Clippers fans, this tends to be the time of year when his groin goes on a 2-month sabbatical.
Third—and I’ll admit this one’s connection to actual basketball is even less significant than the first two—my office building survived the attack from the Cloverfield
monster. I didn’t see the movie, but check out that poster that shows a decapitated Statue of Liberty and most of the entire south end of Manhattan in flames. See that building on the far left, the one with the dome? That’s us—still standing, baby!
As for the games, let’s start with the Spurs. For whatever reason, we always tend to play them hard—we’re like the Devil Rays to their Yankees. Early on, we led by as many as 8, and we stayed within 4 points late in the third. But then San Antonio clamped down on defense (they can do that), blocking a total of 10 shots, notching 11 steals, holding us to only 39 second-half points, and limiting us to just 4 fast-break points. We also made an abysmal two total 3-pointers, while Michael Finley—who resembles a younger Greg Oden (ha!)—went 3-for-3 from downtown by himself.
Speaking of 3-pointers, we’re going through a sort of 3-point stagflation right now. On the heels of 2-for-14 long-range shooting against San Antonio, we went 3-for-18 in the next game against Dallas. Let's see…we’re currently 14th in the league in 3-point percentage and 16th in attempts. So basically, we take an average amount and make an average amount…And that kills everything I was planning to say, because I was hoping to discover something profound like we’re dead last
in 3-point shooting but take the most
so much for that
hypothesis. Still, here’s how we closed out the last 2:30 of the 3rd quarter against the Mavs: Richardson missed a 3, Felton missed a 3, Wallace missed a 3, Carroll missed a 3. Too bad Nazr Mohammed didn’t attempt a three, otherwise we could have had a complete set.
The Dallas game in general was an opportunity lost in the swamp of a stagnant offense. We failed to capitalize on a 5-minute, 32-second Maverick scoring drought in the fourth quarter by only cutting their lead from 12 points to 7. Besides all the missed treys, there was way too much standing around. It was so bad that even the Dallas
announcers began to sound frustrated with our lack of motion. We didn’t get the ball to Mohammed nearly enough (nor did he demand it—7 points on just 3 FG attempts in 27 minutes), and basically just hoped for either Richardson or Wallace to engineer something on their own. There also wasn’t enough sliding on the defensive end, which is unfathomable because Devin Harris, Jason Terry, and JJ Barea don’t do much other
than get to the hoop quickly—thus the opposition has got to be ready to help. Harris alone torched us for 23 points, most of which were unassisted drives and pull-ups.
And in both games, we saw how limited Okafor is against the benchmark big guys, Duncan and Nowitzki. They do everything Okafor does, plus they do it better, plus they do more. If they’re Transformers, he’s a Gobot. For instance, both are capable of playing much farther out on the perimeter, and as they made painfully obvious: if you pull Okafor too far from the basket on defense, he’s lost. His offense was solid, but just a block and ten rebounds in each game just isn’t enough.
Oh, well. Perhaps I should just “Accept Roster Reality,” as the Observer’s
Rick Bonnell urges
. Apparently, our lineup dilemmas, like playing Okafor at the 5 and Wallace at the 4, and playing McInnis at all, are “unavoidable.” I fail to see how he arrived at this conclusion (as do the string of hilarious responses posted afterward), but perhaps that's the very point he’s trying to make: it doesn’t make sense, just accept it. I can do that, I guess…