It wasn’t nearly that close. Boris Diaw nearly had a triple-double, Gerald Wallace looked like the All-Star he is, and Tyson Chandler was an intimidating prescence against the Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby-less Hawks, who still seek their first 50-win season since 1998. But it was still a historic night, as the Bobcats have now clinched their first non-losing season in franchise history.
That’s right, the Bobcats are losers no more. With their 41st win of the season, (and 30th at home) the Bobcats can do no worse than even for the season, and that would still require losing 6 in a row. In fact, it’s possible that, with an easy schedule ahead (the ‘Cats play just one more playoff contender), Charlotte could win out and move to 47-35, giving Larry Brown an even record over his two seasons in the Queen City. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of Boris Diaw, who put up 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists tonight. He would’ve had the first triple double in franchise history had Gerald Wallace not stolen a rebound from him and Stephen Jackson not missed an easy jumper with just a few minutes left. But I’m sure Boris will settle for the win, as he said postgame: “That’s a great win…at this point in the season, every win is pretty important in the chase to [the] playoffs, and getting as high as possible in the playoffs. We knew we can play [well] against teams that have better records too, so we just proved it tonight.” When asked about the rebound Gerald stole from him, Diaw lightheartedly said “He steals every rebound every time anyway, it’s nothing new.” Speaking of “Crash,” Wallace dominated the first half with 22 points, and finished with a game-high 28 points and 6 rebounds. The 28 points were Crash’s highest total since March 10th in Philadelphia, and just the 4th time he’s passed 25 since the All-Star Game. He was one of six Bobcats in double figures, joined by Diaw, Stephen Jackson (15), Raymond Felton (14), Tyson Chandler (12) and D.J. Augustin (11). Chandler also had 8 rebounds, and continues to improve his game since coming back from multiple foot injuries. Jackson said he’s feeling better after being hurt the last few games, saying “I feel a lot better. The two days I had off to rest helped me out, and I didn’t have to work too hard tonight since, you know, Joe didn’t play…I gotta give a lot of props to Strick (Athletic trainer Steve Stricker) he was doing some type of thing with some metal, and he broke it up a lot and it’s almost gone. I’m almost back healthy.” He also talked about Diaw’s triple-double bid, commenting that “I think Boris is probably one of the guys in the league that could actually average a triple-double if he really put forth the effort to do that, and I wish he would’ve gotten that tonight…Boris is fed up with everybody trying to shoot the ball, he’s starting to be aggressive now, and he’s realizing what we need from him to be successful, and he’s taking on that role and helping us out a lot.”
Notes: Theo Ratliff will not be with the team in New Orleans, as he’s attending his grandmother’s funeral. Coach Brown said that he hopes Theo will be back in time for the Houston game and that until then Nazr Mohammed will be worked into the rotation after missing a month and a half…Michael Jordan was in attendance, as he has been at almost every home game since buying the team…Tyrus Thomas injured his thumb in the second half but is expected to be available for the Hornets game…Hawks coach Mike Woodson is one of many former Larry Brown assistants, and Hawks players Joe Smith and Jamal Crawford have played for Brown…Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff and Nazr Mohammed are all ex-Hawks.