You ever have a day where you see something good, then something bad and it’s so bad that you really can’t remember the good thing? Well the benches for the Bobcats and the Suns did that to me today. I’m so freakin congested I think the badness of the 4th quarter has gotten stuck in there. I keep reminding myself that the Bobcats were up by 30+ against a pretty good Phoenix team for most of the game. 3 minutes into the game was the last tie. What’s the story here though? The Suns are aging, so it’s not as big a win as it would have been 2-3 years ago when they were running through the west and run they did. Tonight they didn’t see 80. This team has averaged 118 against Charlotte in their previous 8 wins. Charlotte had never beaten Phoenix until their complete drumming tonight.
I think the story has to be how the 5 player trade has worked out. It’s pretty much equal, except for the fact that tonight’s win puts the Bobcats 2 games over .500 since and makes the Suns .500 exactly. Raja Bell scored 25 in 2 straight games, tonight he had 9 but I give him a pass for not making it to double figures because between him and Raymond Felton, they held Phoenix’s backcourt to 12 points and 6 assists they also forced 7 turnovers. I use the term forced loosely there because Phoenix basically threw the ball away. Boris Diaw who is the Bobcats’ 3rd leading scorer since the trade (13.6ppg), almost made 30 tonight. Jason Richardson however, ended up with 8. Poor guy, I really like him and I miss him but man, you can’t cheer for one player to do well against your home team, you just can’t. That is of course, unless that man is playing garbage minutes.
Oh and how garbage those minutes were. Terry Porter couldn’t really draw up a 32 point 4th quarter so he figured, give the bench some minutes. Jared Dudley, again much like when he was playing for Charlotte, was the highlight of my 4th quarter viewing experience. 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal. Kid was all over the court, chasing down loose balls, playing solid defense. It was an ugly, ugly 4th quarter with basically no one doing much of anything except making turnovers and tripping over themselves but it was really nice to see Dudley get some PT for Terry Porter.
ESPN and the AP and whoever else you read will tell you the story was horrible shooting and turnovers for Phoenix. Something along the lines of they gave the game away to an improving but still lowly Bobcats team in front of one of the highest attended games in the arena all year. Yeah, they took bad shots but it was good defense that forced up those horrible shots. It was obviously frustrating to Phoenix and early in the game to the Bobcats as well. Larry Brown got an early technical foul called on him for arguing a call and probably saying one of those really bad words that sets off an NBA referee that’s embarrassed of how bad his last foul call was. Terry Porter pulled a “T” towards the end of the game. Mild mannered Grant Hill drew one as well. Chasing the referee the entire length of the court looking for an explanation, only to have to run to the opposite end to break the Bobcats press. It was a frustrating game for a couple reasons.
Phoenix couldn’t make a shot, shooting 36%, except for the Big Aristotle, the Big Cactus, Shaqovitch (60% from the field and 66% from the line). One of only two Phoenix players to score in double figures, it looked like the old Hack-a-Shaq was in effect but I don’t think it was intentional. As has been the problem for opposing teams for 17 years, how do you actually guard Shaq? It’s nearly impossible with his size, quick step and moves near the basket. Either you give him space, don’t foul him or you stay close and he moves and shifts in such a way to draw a foul. A foul is physical contact denying another player access to a space that player has rights to as deemed by a referee. I think, I mean that’s my definition. There are 8 types of fouls in the NBA rule book, most have the words “illegal contact” in the definition. If I were a referee I’d call what Shaq does illegal contact. A defensive player has the right to a certain area just as he does, the fact that he shoves you off your mark in such a way that gets you to contact him is his problem, not that of the defender. I’m not arguing rules here or how a particular player has been refereed around for the past 17 years. My point is simply, it makes for ugly basketball, that unless you’re a Shaq fan, doesn’t seem fair. Also, if he’s drawing the fouls, as he was tonight (7 attempts at the line, more than anyone else by 7), it makes for real real ugly ball because of the way he shoots his free throws, which has gotten better. But it’s just not fun.
Anyway, wrapping up the wrap up, Bobcats looked good. Diaw and Bell are the right guys for the job. Dudley needs to get a chance for some team, somewhere, somehow. Shaq has basically cheated for the last 17 years.
What a way to wrap up this week-long home stand that included one near win, against San Antonio, and 3 wins? Now the Bobcats roll up to Indy for the beginning of their “Circus Road Trip.” Check in tomorrow/later Saturday for a preview of the Pacer game.