Fortunately the Bobcats’ season remains the only thing in a vegetative state. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had to be carted off in a stretcher after whacking his head on teammate Jeff Taylor’s hip and/or knee, but as of this morning he appears to have suffered nothing more than a bad concussion. Other than in pro wrestling, it’s never fun to see the paramedics running out with those wheeled gurneys and the neck brace, as they did last night while MKG lay motionless on the court. It all happened in typical MKG fashion, too: he was hustling to try to block Toney Douglas on a driving layup, there was contact, and he fell back into a trailing Taylor.
One of the concerns with MKG was that his rugged play would lead to chronic injuries and an ultimately shortened career, and here we are. He’s already scratched his cornea and gotten a brutal concussion after just 46 games; at this rate, by year 3 he’s going to be playing with a hook and a peg-leg. Of course, I and I’m pretty sure everyone else loves MKG—he’s on pace to capture that place in our hearts that Gerald Wallace still dives around in—so let’s hope little Crash, Jr. can come back soon and be less effective at identifying new ways to maim himself.
As for the game itself, we could all use neck braces from the severe whiplash. The Rockets blitzed out to a 10-2 lead on multiple fast break points, many of them coming after made Bobcats baskets with the defense sound asleep on the other end. A furious coach Dunlap called a timeout after 4-and-a-half minutes and extracted MKG and Gerald Henderson faster than deer antler velvet. Taylor came in, calmed things down, and the Bobcats’ deficit stabilized at around 10 points until well into the 3rd quarter. But with about 4:30 to go in the 3rd, the Bobcats went on a 22-7 tear that put them improbably ahead with 9:22 remaining in the 4th (at the tail end of this run was when the MKG incident occurred).
Unfortunately, it was one of those Bobcats’ “flash-flood” leads that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t hold up. In this case, Houston’s Patrick Patterson entered the game for Jeremy Lin as if he’d just dropped out of a helicopter and became a point-scoring commando, bagging 14 of the Rockets’ next 20 points like terrorist cell operatives. James Harden, not quite the berserker he was the last time we played the Rockets, nonetheless finished with a triple-double, while Omer Asik (19-15) proved to be more than just a pretty face. It was a starter-heavy effort from Houston, with none of their top-five playing less than 34 minutes and four of them scoring in double-figures.
Usually I’m more upset after the Bobcats fall apart in the 4th quarter, but in this case, it’s unclear if they were ever put together in the first place. Houston finished with 28 fast-break points and shot 51.2% from the field, and other than that brief Bobcats “flash-lead,” the Rockets appeared thoroughly in control. Perhaps this was because the Bobcats’ offensive possessions were noticeably much more labored compared to Houston’s. Seemingly every Charlotte basket required Kemba Walker or Ramon Sessions to produce a singlehanded Matrix-style maneuver that got them to the hoop or to the line—which, by the way, is the only thing keeping all of these games within 20 points; the Bobcats are 3rd in the league in free throw attempts per possession. Unfortunately, it’s not so much their “great equalizer” as it is their great “partial offsetter”
Anyway, besides MKG not getting lobotomized, I was personally just thankful to be out of the sonic clutches of Sean Elliot and Stacey King. Listening to ultra-homer Clyde Drexler (“There’s no reason Houston shouldn’t be shooting around 70% right now”) call games for Houston was no picnic, but after those two he sounded like Vin Scully.
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