“What was going on last night?” My wife asked me this morning, “I kept hearing you scream something about ‘the mamba.’” Indeed, last night illustrated exactly why I could never be a sports announcer. With 9 seconds left in regulation, the Bobcats up three points, and the Lakers in-bounding, here’s how it would have sounded if my comments had been on the air: “Watch the mamba, watch the mamba, NOT THE MAMBA…(Bad word, screamed repeatedly)!!!”
In this morning’s Charlotte Observer, Rick Bonnell wrote that Kobe Bryant “forced overtime by hitting a three-pointer over (Matt) Carroll with less than two seconds left in regulation.” This was not technically true, as Bryant actually hit his trey over nobody. That's right, with time winding down, the Bobcats somehow forgot to cover the most deadly clutch shooter in the game, which is a little like your friend inviting you over to a barbecue but forgetting to mention that he also slaughters his own cows beforehand—not sure how you could forget a thing like that. In fairness, it looked like Derek Anderson and Matt Carroll got confused in coverage, but if you’re going to err with Bryant, you’d prefer it to be with more guys than less. If the Bobcats had mistakenly quadruple-teamed him and left Sasha Vujacic all alone, for instance, that would have been more understandable.
Nevertheless, Charlotte pulled it out in overtime and did so with surprising ease, outscoring the Lakers 15-6 in the extra frame. I was really proud of them, as I kept having the image of the team getting off the bus prior to the game and sizing up the Staples Center like a bunch of wide-eyed Axl Rose’s at the beginning of the “Welcome to the Jungle” video (complete with Carroll chewing on a straw of hay). Plus Lamar Odom returned from injury and Andrew Bynum had 11 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots, which was the first time I’d ever seen him demonstrate such prolonged effectiveness; normally, he’s collected two fouls before they’ve even finished with the player intros.
Fortunately, the Lakers were without Kwame Brown, who I seem to recall hearing had recently injured himself on a cake—either that or he injured a cake, I forget which. Either way, Emeka Okafor had enough freedom down low to put up 20 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots of his own. Okafor made up for a rare off night by Sean May (6 points on 3/10 shooting) but was helped out by a rare on night from Adam Morrison (6/17 for 13 points). Carroll had 24 points and 6 rebounds (yawn), and Gerald Wallace also continued on his tear with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. I actually breathed a sigh of relief for Wallace when this was over, because it was the kind of night in which you fear G-Dub might end up needing a leg amputation—very physical and chippy, with both teams screaming about the lack of calls, even though there was a total of 61 foul shots.
The Bobcats have got to be the unofficial league leaders in Number of Times Opposing Announcers Have Said About Them, “The _’s have got to be careful, because the Bobcats are hanging around.” This has become the second-most annoying line to hear (the first, by the way, is when a GM gets asked in an interview if there are any trades he’s considering, and he says, “Well, first of all, let me just say that we’re always looking to make the team better…”, as if that’s somehow deeply insightful). There’s something vaguely insulting about being described as “hanging around,” because it implies that the other team should just be blowing us out, and the only reason we’re in it at all is because they’re making mistakes. I suppose it’s one thing if the announcers for the Suns or Mavericks say it, but are the Lakers (and ESPECIALLY Cleveland) good enough for their announcers to be saying it? We did sweep them, after all…