Last night I had the best tickets I’ve ever had for a sporting event in my life. Keetch hooked me up with his 4th row behind the Bobcats bench seats. It was fantastic. I’ve not been that close to players since the old days at Paul Porter Arena (AKA The Boiling Springs Bakery) at Gardner-Webb. I was so close I could see Larry Brown’s ear hair. I was in the middle of a rhombus of Larry Brown, Michael Jordan, Maake Kemoeatu and DeAngello Williams. This is why I’m thankful to have the NBA in my city.
The game was great. I mean sure the T-Wolves came out hot with the threes. Actually, I wasn’t sure if they knew they could take a shot closer than that line to the basket until about 4 minutes in. There were some spectacular plays by the Bobcats. J-Rich played out of his mind and kind of makes me wonder if he’s like a normal person. He had his knee scoped 2 weeks ago. They cut a hole in your skin around your knee then poke around in there looking for stuff with a tiny camera and maybe removing some scar tissue. Lucky for us he didn’t have any major damage. Unlucky for the Timberwolves and Mike Miller in particular he did things like this:
Looks like that was the NBATV play of the night. Bobcats played out of their minds last night. As we’re only going to see Minnesota one other time this year and I didn’t do a preview, I really couldn’t tell you how good or bad they are. Without question their best player is Al Thornton. He’s averaging 22 ppg but until his few garbage baskets in the 4th quarter, Okafor and company were holding him to 4 points! Kevin Love had his first breakout type performance a couple nights ago but the ‘Cats held him to 10 points and 8 rebounds. Actually that’s pretty good for a guy who couldn’t make a shot in pre-game warm ups.
It was total team last night. Raymond Felton with 14! FOUR-TEEN!!! Assists, 14 points and 4 rebounds. Emeka Okafor had 24 points and 10 boards and 5 BLOCKS! I looked up and saw the guys who put up a big neon orange B for every block and they had about 7 or 8 and I turned to the guy next to me and asked “There can’t really be 7 blocks right now, can there?” It ended up being 9, but the T-Wolves had 9 too? How could that be? Who cares because the point guard accounted for at least 42 points, if you value each of his assists as 2 points? I haven’t even mentioned Gerald and J-Rich (other than that sick, sick, sick, nasty dunk. He’s a freak).
Interesting to me, Sean May started again. I know he’s basically the only match-up option for us at PF because you have to start 5 guys who all fit into one of those 5 positions right? You can’t roll out your best 5 players because you don’t know how the match-ups will shake out at first. May hit the first shot taken in the game. He finished with 5 points and 3 rebounds. Sitting so close you hear a lot that is said but the way the rows are and the seats and people between you and the bench, it’s often hard to make out exactly what is said. May had this horrible look on his face like he felt so bad for being fat and out of shape and he knew he was slowing the team down, especially in transition and not helping at all on the boards. On one particular play Gerald Wallace was charging to the basket, going up strong and it looked like May didn’t know where Crash was going, or he couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. Gerald went up, went for a layup and missed but got fouled on the play. He sort of jogged over to the bench and either said “He’s got to GO!” or “Sean’s got to GO!” May looked like someone had just run over his dog. Larry sort of gave the hands up, shrug, like “Hey, what can I do?” I almost feel bad for Big Boy but he’s dug his own grave.
As for Wallace, he’s the heart and soul of this team. He’s been around since day one. He was one of the first players we selected in the expansion draft. He calls Charlotte as well as Alabama “home.” Yet there are tons of rumors about trading him. I know he’s got one of those, “he’s great for the money” contracts. He fills up a stat sheet. Look at his line from last night: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. That’s like a regular night. Gerald is one of those franchise guys for us at this point.
One thing I kind of didn’t like: those who didn’t play. Shannon Brown and Ryan Hollins didn’t dress for the game. MJ came in and made them move to the back row of the bench area. I tried to ask Ryan if he was ok but he didn’t even flinch. Matt Carroll and Alexis Ajinca: DNP-CD. I am not one to pick apart a complete team win but, I thought these guys were a serious part of the rotation. What do I know? I was on the fourth row behind Larry not sitting beside him.
It was fantastic. I really enjoyed myself. The whole “Sean has to go” thing may be more than I think it was. I am 85% positive that’s what I heard Gerald say. Just a near-perfect, complete, team-win against an OK team. These guys are obviously coming together. First beating Philly, playing pretty well in Toronto, beat Indiana, then pushing Boston to the limit, then just dominating Minnesota. Somewhere I read that it’s traditional for Larry Brown’s teams to start slowly and end up finishing pretty strong in his first season there. I don’t know about all that but J-Rich, Ray, Mek, Gerald, DJ and maybe some of the bench guys (Dudley, Ajinca if he could get some good PT, Ammo) are all on board. It’s going to be great. I can’t say completely without equivocation that this team will go on a run and make the playoffs, have a couple All-Stars and win over the city, but I like what I’m seeing so far.
Over Thanksgiving I think I heard the best analysis so far. My English Father, who has only been to one NBA game in his life and that was 10 years ago; never watches games; barely keeps up; you should hear what he calls NBA players (overpaid is the least of his worries; he said “You know it’s just that the other team is putting more in the net than the Bobcats.” No my Dad is not John Madden. Dad meant that the Bobcats looked better than the Raptors. They were doing all the right things, making good “moves” on the court as Dad explained later. It just happens that Toronto was scoring and the Bobcats weren’t. Sure Dad, makes sense if you explain it, which he barely could, God bless him. He was trying to make me feel a little better about my disappointing team but he truly believed using the eyeball test, as a novice to say the least, that the Bobcats were the better team on the court. I like that.
Bobcats Lose to Bosh. Who does he play for again?
Great point made by special contributor to the Observer, Doug Smith: “And facing a great big man, the kind they’re not really built to contend with, the Bobcats would have needed far more offense than they were able to muster.”
Chris Bosh, who I used to really think was a crap player, went off for 39 points and 11 rebounds last night. That’s pretty solid! His high total other than 39 is 42 and he’s only done that twice and one of those was in double overtime. Who do the ‘Cats have to match up with this guy? I thought maybe a combo of Ajinca, Hollins, Dudley and Okafor could slow him down but ugh, not so much. Ajinca isn’t ready. Hollins may never be ready. Dudley and Okafor are shorter and slower than Bosh. In Dudley’s case, much shorter. Dudley had a nice game. 13 points for the guy with the high-basketball-IQ. Okafor looked like “himself” I don’t know who exactly he is after his injuries, great year last year, then down again this year but 16 points and 14 rebounds to go with his average number of blocks (1 and a bit) is good.
If the Bobcats are going to beat a team with a guy who is all but guaranteed to score piles of points their defense won’t be the match-up. It would have to come from the offense. Bosh outscored the next highest Raptor by 22. Some guy named Joey Graham scored 17. So, looks like the Bobcats should have the match-ups covered elsewhere if no one but Bosh wants to have a big game. They didn’t. Gerald Wallace scored 23 but shot 8 for 20. That seems like a bad shooting night. 40%. That’s Paul Pierce’s season average. Kobe averages 45%. That’s not bad but it feels like it. Okafor’s 16 helps, as does DJ and Dudley with 13 but that’s not going to get it and it didn’t last night.
I’m not worried about it really. The Bobcats didn’t sit back and watch him go off. The effort was there. LB even said he was proud of the way the guys played. Bosh’s biggest play was an ally-oop in the fourth quarter. Then a few misses, Okafor scores a couple times and the Bobcats are right back in it. It’s not horrible. It’s not a win, but it’s not a bunch of guys who sit back and say to themselves, “We’re getting beat by a guy who we can’t stop. That’s it. It’s all over.” These guys play as a nice team, missing a couple parts. One of which might come back against the Pacers, as Coach Brown said he needed one last full practice. The other part we’re missing, we’re not exactly sure where it will come from. The power forward position remains a big empty void.
Alexis Ajinca is starting at center with DJ Augustin at the PG which moves Raymond Felton to the 2 guard and Okafor to the PF. It worked against Philly, not so much last night. Ajinca didn’t get the minutes last night. Sean May shouldn’t and can’t take the minutes. I haven’t seen him leave his feet more than 5 times in any one game all season, forget keeping up with the pace of the game. I don’t think moving Okafor to the PF and starting Ajinca every game or Nazr or Hollins is going to help us, last night or in the future. It’s not a permanent solution. So how do the Bobcats overcome these deficiencies? Trade? Not this year.
I’d like to talk to someone in the front office and see what the plan is. I really think someone other than Bonnell should be allowed access. He is the only person that his entire job is to cover the Bobcats. Any other writer that writes about the ‘Cats is either an AP guy or a part-timer, whose real interests are elsewhere (Panthers, College B-Ball and Football, sometimes even High School Sports.) Write emails to whomever and get BIGCat in the arena! I’m going to start a campaign because I really can’t find quotes from anyone other than LB and the players in pre- and post-game pressers. BIGCat for beat writer, 2008-09!
But back to my original question: how many do you need for a legion? According to dictionary.com, you need to have at least 3,000 people to call yourselves a legion. Plus you have to be armed and Roman. Hmm, well Earl is going to play for Italy, but I don’t know what sort of weapons arrangements he’s negotiated into his contract. Never mind.
Oh wait, now I see this is one of those multi-part definitions. Let’s see…well, the other definitions have no specific ethnic or armament requirements, but they do stipulate that you need a “large” or “great” number of people in order to call yourself a legion. And I’m not sure if eight or nine cuts it. Take the “Legion of Super-Heroes,” for instance (that would probably be the best historical example): I seem to remember hundreds of them, to the point that I think the DC comics artists were just making ones up on a bet (The Dog Catcher, Cell Phone Boy, etc.). On the other hand, a legion like WWE’s “Legion of Doom” only consisted of two wrestlers. Even counting their football pads, that was probably a misnomer, though, and they should have just stuck with “Road Warriors.”
Anyway, bye-bye, Earl. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. He didn’t get here until February, and he only averaged just under 16 minutes of playing time. Never a great assister, his 2.34 A/TO ratio would have placed him 41st in the league if he’d played enough minutes to qualify–or the meat in a munchkin sandwich between Allen Iverson and Kyle Lowry. His defensive level was also Arena Football-caliber—he had just 14 total steals for the year.
In other non(sense)-news, we signed free agent SG Shannon Brown for an undisclosed amount in order to…what? I’m not sure. Is it possible to use players as dummy corporations in order to launder money? That’s about the only reason I can fathom for picking up yet another shooting guard. You know how in the movies the cops will say that Such-and-Such Restaurant is merely a “front”? Like the Bada-Bing in The Sopranos? I think that’s what we may have here. Shannon Brown is a “front” for Bob Johnson to hide money, or for stashing MJ’s gambling proceeds or something. That would also explain why the amount of the contract is “undisclosed.”