Wow. What a game. Every time I see this team play, they have more and more chemistry, and that is helping them smother teams on the defensive side of the ball. Last night, your Charlotte Bobcats took on the San Antonio Spurs, who coming into this game were 5-0 in Charlotte and 10-1 all time against the ‘Cats. But, by the end of the night, that would change.
Depsite the spectacular performance, the first half was boring, slow, and featured under 40% shooting for the ‘Cats, giving the Spurs the halftime lead, 42-38, and no player for either team was in double digits. But my, was that second half impressive. From the end of he third quarter to the beginning of the fourth, the ‘Cats went on a 19-2 run, and the Spurs went 1-14 in that stretch. Gerald Wallace (21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocks, and 4 steals) had several huge defensive plays, including one where he got the steal on the defensive end, and took it coast to coast for the posterization of Manu Ginobili. That was far and away the play of the game (and Wallace’s skying blocks may have been 2-5) but the player of the game was, believe it or not, Boris Diaw (26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks). Yes, that guy that everyone has wanted benched or traded for the last month (including me). But for tonight, and quite possibly the future (more on that in a minute) the Frenchman was the best player. He kept Spurs star Tim Duncan to just 10 points without any help defense, and was the game’s high scorer and the best ‘Cats rebounder. If this keeps up, and I think it will, then the ‘Cats are going to coast into the playoffs.
Now, as for why this should keep up. According to Bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski, Boris sat down with Stephen Jackson (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) before this homestand to talk about Boris’ role and how he could help the team by being more aggresive. Not only was Boris fine with that, but he’s taken it to heart, on both ends of the floor. His defense was just as impressive as those 26 points, and Diaw was finally taking those wide open threes he’s been passing up since he got here. If Diaw is in line, the next target should be Tyson Chandler, and if all 5 are living up to, or even close to their potential, the 5 seed might be a bit low. After the game, Jackson talked again with Diaw: “I told him after the game that we’re going to be hard to beat if he’s aggressive,” Jackson said. “There are not too many 4-men in this league that can handle the ball, shoot, pass at that size. I think he frees up a lot of stuff on the offensive end for me and Gerald [Wallace] when he can pick and pop or make plays for us.” Meanwhile Co-Captain Raymond Felton (4 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block) was shouting Diaw’s praises across the locker room.
Notes: Chandler missed his 10th game in a row, though he says that he doesn’t feel pain, just slight discomfort from the stress reaction in his left foot. Rookie Gerald Henderson played 1 minute and 40 seconds after not playing since Dec. 28th against Milwaukee, racking up 7 DNP-CD’s. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said “It’s a typical Larry Brown team, just tenacious, physical, pressure defense. Creating turnovers, creating offense out of turnovers. You knew it coming in. But we reacted poorly to it.” The Bobcats have won 3 in a row, and 6 straight at home.
Tonight, the ‘Cats take on the Phoenix Suns at Time Warner Cable Arena. The game starts at 7 p.m., and though there is no local tv, it will be broadcast nationally on NBATV. Since there’s no local tv, even those in the FSCR blackout zone should be able to watch the game there. The radio broadcast is on WFNZ tonight.
Video recap here: Bobcats beat Spurs 92-76