Hmmm. In the last two games, we were highly competitive against arguably the best team in the league, and then we flat-out defeated a team that almost always kicks the crap out of us. And these results came despite not having our best player (Gerald Wallace) in the lineup. What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: we got rid of Jeff McInnis! Free at last, free at last, thank Rod Higgins Almighty, we are free at last! I’ll never know why it took the front office so long to do what was painfully obvious in the preseason (direct quote from my 2007-08 preview: “My two biggest dreads this year are Jeff McInnis and Primoz Brezec. I really think they are the primary reasons why the Bobcats have the potential to be bad-to-horrible this year.”), but by waiving McInnis, at least they’ve shown that they do eventually respond to the problem. If their indecisiveness with the whole McInnis/Brezec fiasco is any indication of how they handle the rest of their lives, however, I just hope none of their kids ever gets appendicitis.
All that said…I’m still ecstatic! This wasn’t just addition by subtraction, it was exponential multiplication by subtraction. In their recap of Charlotte’s win over Toronto on Sunday, ESPN.com wrote that the Bobcats “essentially acknowledged they are no longer in the playoff hunt when they waived veteran guard Jeff McInnis on Friday.” I’d argue the exact opposite—if we really wanted to tank games for draft positioning, we would have kept him around. Jeff McInnis is so slow and useless that I was waiting for Charles Barkley to challenge him to a foot race at next year’s All-Star weekend. With him gone, it’s the dawning of a new era.
Earl Boykins, Matt Carroll, it really didn’t matter. ANYONE does more in the 2-slot than McInnis. And why Felton was ever slotted anywhere other than point guard is just as mysterious. I mean, the guy’s 6’1” and has played point guard his whole life—why were we ever shuffling him around? Is anyone on the Miami Dolphins considering drafting Glenn Dorsey first overall and then moving him to free safety? Forget it, I don't care, I'm just glad it's over. I feel like Eminem once he finally got custody of Halie-Jade from Kim. Crazy McInnis is out of our lives now for good, let’s just try to forget the whole thing ever happened. And now that he’s gone, we can enjoy two things:
1. Jared Dudley. I haven’t loved a “Dudley” this much since Arnold Drummond’s best friend on Diff’rent Strokes. Against the C’s on Friday, he had 9 points, 7 boards, and 3 steals in just 27 minutes. These were a handful of forwards he was dealing with, too—Garnett, Posey, and Powe. And on Sunday, he had his greatest game yet: 17 and 10. He’s been deadly efficient all year, almost never taking a bad shot (50% shooting from the field). He’s almost like a “Moneyball” player: not an Adonis-looking guy, he just compiles the stats. If Dudley continues this trajectory, management’s going to have to think real hard about how much more they want to sink into Sean May (and I’m sure they’ll get back to us by, say, December 09).
2. Jason Richardson. I’ve bashed him a lot all year, but I have to admit that not only has he been great for the past two months or so, he’s even been tough. After what happened with Nate Robinson at the Garden, I didn’t expect to see him for a week, except maybe in civvies and sporting a pirate-style eye-patch. But he didn’t miss a single game and has gone for 30 both nights. And really, if you take out November, he’s been averaging over 20 points per game and playing over 37 minutes—in other words, he’s been right in line with his career averages. More importantly, he averages about one really "cool thing" per game—be it a windmill slam, a ridonkulous 3-pointer, etc. So although he hasn’t been the missing link that would connect us to the playoffs, he’s often the only reason to tune in right now.
I really have no idea how we kept things so close with Boston. The Celtics did miss a bunch of lay-ups (“at least 6,” according to the ever-impartial Tommy Heinsohn, and this estimate came roughly midway through the second quarter), but still, we were a Felton-drive away from having that puppy at 96-93 with two minutes left! Too bad. And then against the Raptors, we started out cooler than being cool—that is, “ice-cold”—by going just 3-for-12. To make matters worse, Rasho Nesterovic, who looks like a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster at center, was randomly unstoppable, scoring 13 in the first quarter. Toronto also had the two-headed monster of TJ Ford and Jose Calderon (who NEEDS to quit licking his fingers all the time when he doesn’t know where that ball has been—is that not the grossest habit this side of LeBron’s nail-chewing?) working it. But for whatever reason (aw hell, let’s blame this on McInnis too), we out-rebounded the Raps 50-37 (inc. 18 offensive boards—could that be right??) and hit 24 of 26 free throws. And just 7 total turnovers the whole game? We usually churn that out in a quarter. We really were the Anti-Bobcats in this one.
And Primoz…ah, Primoz. 11 minutes, 4 points, 4 fouls. Seems like only yesterday…