In both games, the team fell off a cliff starting with about four-and-a-half minutes to go. On Friday, we didn’t make a FG after Jason Richardson’s 3-pointer with 4:20 left. What followed was the worst display of anything involving free throws since Murphy Lee’s rap in “Air Force Ones,” as we hit just 11-of-22 freebies down the stretch to barely escape with a 102-99 victory. On Sunday, the Cats led 81-65 after Ryan Hollins’ 3-point play, and then watched it drip away over the final, agonizing 11 minutes. The last four were particularly painful, as we began hemorrhaging turnovers and AGAIN didn’t make a FG after Emeka Okafor’s 4-footer with 5:31. Thankfully, this time we made our free throws. It also didn’t hurt that Miami was without Dwyane Wade, whose replacement, Chris Quinn, is so green and boyish that on road trips he probably gets asked by girls which junior high school he attends.
Besides the perfect record, the good news is that our Big 4 all look tremendous. Felton had more problems finishing last year than the 40-Year-Old Virgin, but so far this season he’s passing out of most of his drives and being more selective (and accurate) with his shots. The turnovers continue to be a problem (9 total), but you can’t his knock his hustle (4 steals). As for Emeka Okafor, his biggest improvement is knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. By this I mean he’s staying out of foul trouble by just conceding baskets when the opposing teams’ bigs have already got the inside edge to the hoop, whereas last year he’d just jump on them and get whistled. Meanwhile, Gerald Wallace waited all of 1 game to terrify me with his latest potential season-ending injury, grabbing his knee early in the Miami game and being carried off the court. But I’m starting to think he’s got the restorative powers of that cheerleader in Heroes, because he merely shook it off and came back to fill up the stat sheet. And finally, our shiny new addition, J-Rich, went 6-11 from downtown against the Heat for an electrifying 29 points. "I was in a place where it felt like every shot I'd take would roll in," Richardson said afterward, "It's an amazing feeling when you reach that." That’s exactly how Hindus describe nirvana, minus the “rolling ball” part.
The main questions I have after 2 games are:
1. Where is the love for Matt Carroll, Walter Herrmann, and Derek Anderson? All three of last season’s glue guys have gotten less time on the court than a streaker. Carroll only got 19 minutes of run against Milwaukee, and just about none in the fourth quarter, when I’m willing to bet he would have hit more than a quarter of his free throws. Herrmann only got 12, and Anderson got squat. Game 2 was even worse, as Carroll got 7 and Herrmann got 3. As for Anderson, maybe he should just change his nickname to DANP.
2. Why is the love for Jeff McInnis and Primoz Brezec? In Brezec’s case, it’s a matter of necessity—like loving your only son, even if he’s a heroin-addicted bank robber—because there aren’t any other options. And Primoz hasn’t completely shamed himself either. Actually, he’s been totally anonymous, but for him that’s a major step up. Yes, he still runs like a marathoner fighting off severe diarrhea, but he wasn’t in foul trouble either game, and he even provided a moment of levity by drawing a push-off foul from Shaq that nearly launched him into the first row. It looked like a cannon firing out a bassoon. McInnis has also been anonymous, but it’s been 24-minutes a game of anonymity for which I have no sane explanation. Not only is McInnis NOT just spelling Felton for a minute or so at the end of every quarter, Coach Vincent has actually got him out there WITH Felton, playing the 2!! Total McInnis production for two games: 8 points, 7 assists. Your guess is as good as mine…
3. Does David Stern actively hate us? Kudos to the NBA scheduling committee for giving us that coveted, 6 PM Sunday time slot, when the only competing entertainment was that underground NFL league. And even if you were one of the handful of people who care about American football, it’s not like there were any games of significance happening. Really, thanks again, Stern-o.
4. How insignificant are we? We’ve got to be the only team who’s made Andrew Bogut its archenemy. Bogut has monster games against us…and no one else. On Friday he had 17 rebounds and 5 blocks, plus he seemed to be involved in every single foul call, either giving or receiving.
5. How satisfying was it to watch Ricky Davis literally throw the game away? Very, especially considering that he’d tied it with a ridiculous 3-pointer only a few moments earlier.
6. What was on Mo Williams’ shoulder? It appeared to be an ammo belt.
7. Are we down to just one uniform?