And thus the air went out of our little 5-game win-streak balloon. The biggest tragedy of not making it 6 in a row was that it would have set off a completely ridiculous “battle of the unbeatens” angle tonight between the Bobcats and the 20-straight Rockets. But if there’s an upside, maybe Mark Cuban will now feel happy and secure enough to allow bloggers back into his arena—just think of the Bobcats as champions of free speech.
The other upside was getting Gerald Wallace back. I was amused that Rick Bonnell felt compelled to write an article in the Charlotte Observer entitled “Wallace’s Return Didn’t Cause Loss.” Did anyone actually think that? Bonnell opens the article with the line, “This theory among some that Gerald Wallace's return had anything to do with the Charlotte Bobcats' winning streak ending is the silliest example of inductive reasoning I can imagine.” I think he actually DID imagine it. We’ve got some serious dissonance brewing at the Observer when one writer (Tom Sorensen) believes that nobody cares about the Bobcats, and another writer (Bonnell) believes that not only do they care, they care enough to concoct paranoid theories about why we lose games. But thanks, Bonnell, for putting those wild rumors to rest; I don’t know where we’d be without your forthright level-headedness. Your next task is to dispel those vicious rumors I’ve been hearing that Adam Morrison deliberately injured himself at the beginning of the year to try and opt out of his contract.
All that said, Wallace was a little woozy when he bravely stepped back on the floor. Entering the game about 9 minutes in to the first quarter, Wallace got his first shot blocked by Eric Dampier, fouled Dirk Nowitzki, missed a jumper, traveled, and missed another jumper. At this point, I was terrified that his injury was not just an injury, but some sort of disease straight out of a bad movie, in which he was knocked unconscious and woke up thinking he was somebody else—specifically, Primoz Brezec. But Crash finally sank his next jumper, and he finished with 14 points and 5 boards in just 22 minutes.
As for the rest of the practice—I mean, game—well, I did a little stat check on Wednesday afternoon just to see how our 5-game winning “spree” compared with our overall season averages. Not surprisingly, our 5-game stats were better across the board, but the biggest disparities were our points-per-game (up from 96.3 to 109), our 3-point % (37% to 45.4%), our opponents’ offensive rebounds-per-game (down from 11.8 to 8.4), and our rebounding difference vs. opponents (-2.5 to +6.6). And of course, all of this collapsed aganst Dallas faster than Elliot Spitzer’s reputation. The Mavs thumped us on the boards (47 to 32) and checked our scoring (93 points, although we still shot a robust 47.1% from 3-point range). They also shot with the accuracy of Robocop, hitting 53.8% of their field goals, including 10-of-24 3-pointers and complemented by 22-of-26 from the foul line. A lot of their marksmanship can be attributed to late rotations on our part, but a lot of it was also just because they’re good shooters (7th in the league)…and don’t forget Gerald Wallace, who we can all agree has been the weak link this year.