Last night I had the best tickets I’ve ever had for a sporting event in my life. Keetch hooked me up with his 4th row behind the Bobcats bench seats. It was fantastic. I’ve not been that close to players since the old days at Paul Porter Arena (AKA The Boiling Springs Bakery) at Gardner-Webb. I was so close I could see Larry Brown’s ear hair. I was in the middle of a rhombus of Larry Brown, Michael Jordan, Maake Kemoeatu and DeAngello Williams. This is why I’m thankful to have the NBA in my city.
The game was great. I mean sure the T-Wolves came out hot with the threes. Actually, I wasn’t sure if they knew they could take a shot closer than that line to the basket until about 4 minutes in. There were some spectacular plays by the Bobcats. J-Rich played out of his mind and kind of makes me wonder if he’s like a normal person. He had his knee scoped 2 weeks ago. They cut a hole in your skin around your knee then poke around in there looking for stuff with a tiny camera and maybe removing some scar tissue. Lucky for us he didn’t have any major damage. Unlucky for the Timberwolves and Mike Miller in particular he did things like this:
Looks like that was the NBATV play of the night. Bobcats played out of their minds last night. As we’re only going to see Minnesota one other time this year and I didn’t do a preview, I really couldn’t tell you how good or bad they are. Without question their best player is Al Thornton. He’s averaging 22 ppg but until his few garbage baskets in the 4th quarter, Okafor and company were holding him to 4 points! Kevin Love had his first breakout type performance a couple nights ago but the ‘Cats held him to 10 points and 8 rebounds. Actually that’s pretty good for a guy who couldn’t make a shot in pre-game warm ups.
It was total team last night. Raymond Felton with 14! FOUR-TEEN!!! Assists, 14 points and 4 rebounds. Emeka Okafor had 24 points and 10 boards and 5 BLOCKS! I looked up and saw the guys who put up a big neon orange B for every block and they had about 7 or 8 and I turned to the guy next to me and asked “There can’t really be 7 blocks right now, can there?” It ended up being 9, but the T-Wolves had 9 too? How could that be? Who cares because the point guard accounted for at least 42 points, if you value each of his assists as 2 points? I haven’t even mentioned Gerald and J-Rich (other than that sick, sick, sick, nasty dunk. He’s a freak).
Interesting to me, Sean May started again. I know he’s basically the only match-up option for us at PF because you have to start 5 guys who all fit into one of those 5 positions right? You can’t roll out your best 5 players because you don’t know how the match-ups will shake out at first. May hit the first shot taken in the game. He finished with 5 points and 3 rebounds. Sitting so close you hear a lot that is said but the way the rows are and the seats and people between you and the bench, it’s often hard to make out exactly what is said. May had this horrible look on his face like he felt so bad for being fat and out of shape and he knew he was slowing the team down, especially in transition and not helping at all on the boards. On one particular play Gerald Wallace was charging to the basket, going up strong and it looked like May didn’t know where Crash was going, or he couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. Gerald went up, went for a layup and missed but got fouled on the play. He sort of jogged over to the bench and either said “He’s got to GO!” or “Sean’s got to GO!” May looked like someone had just run over his dog. Larry sort of gave the hands up, shrug, like “Hey, what can I do?” I almost feel bad for Big Boy but he’s dug his own grave.
As for Wallace, he’s the heart and soul of this team. He’s been around since day one. He was one of the first players we selected in the expansion draft. He calls Charlotte as well as Alabama “home.” Yet there are tons of rumors about trading him. I know he’s got one of those, “he’s great for the money” contracts. He fills up a stat sheet. Look at his line from last night: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. That’s like a regular night. Gerald is one of those franchise guys for us at this point.
One thing I kind of didn’t like: those who didn’t play. Shannon Brown and Ryan Hollins didn’t dress for the game. MJ came in and made them move to the back row of the bench area. I tried to ask Ryan if he was ok but he didn’t even flinch. Matt Carroll and Alexis Ajinca: DNP-CD. I am not one to pick apart a complete team win but, I thought these guys were a serious part of the rotation. What do I know? I was on the fourth row behind Larry not sitting beside him.
It was fantastic. I really enjoyed myself. The whole “Sean has to go” thing may be more than I think it was. I am 85% positive that’s what I heard Gerald say. Just a near-perfect, complete, team-win against an OK team. These guys are obviously coming together. First beating Philly, playing pretty well in Toronto, beat Indiana, then pushing Boston to the limit, then just dominating Minnesota. Somewhere I read that it’s traditional for Larry Brown’s teams to start slowly and end up finishing pretty strong in his first season there. I don’t know about all that but J-Rich, Ray, Mek, Gerald, DJ and maybe some of the bench guys (Dudley, Ajinca if he could get some good PT, Ammo) are all on board. It’s going to be great. I can’t say completely without equivocation that this team will go on a run and make the playoffs, have a couple All-Stars and win over the city, but I like what I’m seeing so far.
Over Thanksgiving I think I heard the best analysis so far. My English Father, who has only been to one NBA game in his life and that was 10 years ago; never watches games; barely keeps up; you should hear what he calls NBA players (overpaid is the least of his worries; he said “You know it’s just that the other team is putting more in the net than the Bobcats.” No my Dad is not John Madden. Dad meant that the Bobcats looked better than the Raptors. They were doing all the right things, making good “moves” on the court as Dad explained later. It just happens that Toronto was scoring and the Bobcats weren’t. Sure Dad, makes sense if you explain it, which he barely could, God bless him. He was trying to make me feel a little better about my disappointing team but he truly believed using the eyeball test, as a novice to say the least, that the Bobcats were the better team on the court. I like that.