As Charlotte thaws from the snow and ice that kept 18,000 fans away from the Memphis game, the Bulls made their way to town, even found a gate to deplane at the airport. (Atlanta postponed their game against Milwaukee but then again they had dudes ice skating up and down streets downtown) The Bulls presented a definite challenge to the newly sparked Bobcats. The Bobcats fully feeling a 5-2 record under coach Paul Silas, entered the game, in my opinion, knowing they had something to prove. You see, their 5 wins were against Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota, Washington and Memphis, not exactly the cream of the crop. Chicago, 4th in the East, beat Boston and Detroit but had lost to the Nets and Philly, go figure. I don’t follow them, I like some of their pieces, remains to be seen how well Tom Thibodeau (had to look that one up 3 times) can coach, that is HEAD coach because he obviously is a good assistant.
So, according to Stephanie Ready, the team had a great shoot around. She kept saying they finished it out by “clapping it up.” Now I don’t know about you, but I love clapping it up. I clap it up once a day just to let everybody know how I feel about something. So, riding that excellent walk-through and clapping it up, the Bobcats got out to a great start, keyed in large part by Kwame Brown! When Kwame is hot, you’re in trouble, unless it’s JUST Kwame heating up, then you’ll be fine and win the game 30 to 106 or something. But Kwame sparked things, DJ found him, whoa, hold on…looking at the Play-by-Play on ESPN.com to check my statements, it looks like Boris Diaw was the key to Kwame’s success. Gerald Wallace showed little rust in his return from an ankle injury.
The first quarter was exceptional, the guys really played well on all cylinders against a pretty good team, great young point guard. They were missing Joakim Noah, but damn it was nice to see the Bulls without having to put up with him…not because he’d do so much damage but because I just can’t stand the guy. My immediate thought after the game was, if you were to chart the day on a line graph, it’d look exactly like a standard EKG read out.
Good start with the shoot-around, great first, solid 2nd then it dips…the third quarter was not good. Not fun to watch….The Bobcats couldn’t stop jacking up threes. I don’t know what it was but just frustrating because all you could do sitting at home is say “SOMEBODY TELL THEM THEY CAN SHOOT CLOSER!” Then Kwame started fouling. Coach puts in McGuire in Kwame’s place, he starts fouling and a 13 point halftime lead is evaporated. It wasn’t turnovers for once, it was the horrible shot selection. 6 of 19 over the quarter if my fingers count correctly….ugly shots, quick shots, no chance of a second chance, making these poor shot selections the equivilant of a turnover. Just atrocious. But they were not broken!
The energy, assists, defense and driving to the basket were all ratcheted up several notches. Tyrus Thomas was the spark plug as he is so often, block on one end, sick dunk on the other. It was great to have this incredible start, pretty cruddy middle and pretty horrible mid-late third quarter. Then DJ remembered who he was and began driving and dishing and it just worked.
DJ was the story, beside the ebb and flow of the game. Derrick Rose is such a touted player, for good reason. He was brilliant in his one year at Memphis and immediately contributed in Chicago. He has speed and ups rarely seen in a package like him. I’m not talking about his package, just saying how it’s rare to put a player like that together…ok?
So, Rose vs. DJ….Who was the victor? DJ, by a lot. Points: DJ 22, Rose 17. Assists: DJ 12 (career high), Rose 7. Turnovers: DJ 1, Rose 4. I was impressed. Really, truly impressed. The reigns are completely removed and the kid has flourished. Bobcats Break, the team’s own blog, looked at the backcourt production over the last 3 weeks. DJ and Stephen Jackson are the most prolific combo over that period (since Silas has been head coach). Jackson had an off night for him under the new regime with 16 points.
Each of the starters finished in double figures, Tyrus Thomas was all that could be needed and then some off the bench, defense was solid enough and while the refs and bad shot selection almost killed them in the third quarter, the Bobcats pulled out the victory. Signature victory under Silas. Hell, for the whole season. Steve Martin had a nice nugget of info: The Bobcats have only beaten 3 teams that had a winning record. Two of them have fallen out of that +.500 category and most of all, the Bobcats had to have this otherwise it would simply be a story of a hot team beating teams they should beat. It could bean that they are truly legit and a definite contender to keep this 8 spot and move forward and possibly up fully in the playoff picture.