The first time the Charlotte Bobcats won a game on national television, they did so behind a strong game from an overweight power forward on his home court. That formula held true for the second time, as Boris Diaw channeled his inner Sean May and led the Bobcats to their first national tv win since December 14, 2006.
Diaw, who had 20 points (9-14 shooting, 2-3 3pa) and 10 rebounds, was the catalyst tonight, but was hardly the only Bobcat to make an impact in front of majority owner Michael Jordan, who was attending his 7th game of the season. Nazr Mohammed chipped in with 15 points and 7 rebounds after playing four minutes combined in the two games against the Knicks this week. Stephen Jackson had 16 points (7-14 fga, 1-3 3pa) and Gerald Wallace, despite a poor shooting night (6-21) managed 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. DJ Augustin continued his strong season as a distributor, with 11 assists to just 1 turnover. Shaun Livingston added 10 points off the bench and the Bobcats defeated the banged-up Houston Rockets 99-89 on ESPN2 to move to 6-10 on the year.
The Rockets, missing All-Star Yao Ming and starting point guard Aaron Brooks, have struggled so far this season, dropping to 4-11 on the season with a poor shooting night. Houston shot just 41.8% from the field, 32.1% from beyond the arc and a terrible 60.9% from the free throw line. Chuck Hayes was the only starter to shoot over 44% (3-5, 60%) and only Jordan Hill was truly effective, scoring 14 points on 7 attempts in 24 minutes. Chase Budinger led the Rockets with 19 points, but he was just 6-15 from the field. The Rockets had 14 turnovers, 3 more than the Bobcats, and were outrebounded. Despite all this, they at one point held an 11 point lead and were up by 7 at the half.
It was the start of the second half, however, that the Bobcats chose to wake up. Using a 9-0 run to start the quarter, the Bobcats outscored Houston 27-16 in the third to lead 72-68 entering the final period. Diaw had 6 points in a single minute to put the Bobcats ahead 82-76 in the middle of the fourth to keep Houston at bay. After taking their first lead with 9:23 left in the 3rd on a Stephen Jackson jumper, the Bobcats never trailed for the rest of the game and turned in one of their best performances of the season.
Notes: Gerald Henderson was inactive once again, missing his seventh straight game with a knee injury…Denny Hamlin was in his courtside seat just days after losing the Sprint Cup Championship to Jimmie Johnson in Miami…The Rockets have several Carolina Connections, as center Brad Miller played for the Charlotte Hornets, backup point guard Ishmael Smith is from Concord and played for Wake Forest Univeristy, and shooting guard Kevin Martin was a standout at Western Carolina.