Mad Magazine used to have a section called “Headlines We Bet You’ll Never See” (example: “UN Solves Crisis”), and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw that the AP recap of the Bobcats-Magic game was titled, “Corey Maggette, Bismack Biyombo Rally Bobcats Past Magic.” I have to admit that I was not smelling an upset going into this game; what I was smelling was more like a wet fart in a crowded, dank elevator after Deron Williams morphed into Gandhi 2 on Sunday, became a one-man wrecking crew, and dropped 57 on us. Instead, I was treated to a delightful romp of 47% shooting, a 20-point comeback, and best of all, no Boris Diaw! Pinch me! The only way it could have been better would be if instead of sitting on the bench, Diaw was shown sitting on his Segway, and afterward the camera followed him solemnly motoring out of the tunnel.
But back to that Nets game real quick, because in its own way, it was fascinating. First, Williams was an omnipresent rampaging maniac on a scoring spree. Second, Paul Silas elected to defend Williams with only DJ Augustin or Kemba Walker in single coverage for virtually the entire game. The result allowed fans a chance to see how a basketball game featuring Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee against 100 Agent Smith clones might look. Williams would grab a rebound and pass to Williams, who would either kick it out to Williams for a 3-pointer or drive to the hoop himself and draw the foul, always with either Augustin or Walker nipping helplessly at his heels. Silas not only defended this “strategy,” he gave himself props for it. “I thought that’s mainly what kept us in the game,” he said afterward. Disregard Silas’s dirt-off-my-shoulders comments. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if Silas is one of those people who don’t vaccinate their children because they were told not to by Jenny McCarthy.
No, what kept the Bobcats competitive was an insane 37-of-39 free throw performance (and a 12-of-23 free throw performance by the non-Agent Smiths on the Nets). Leave it to Charlotte to have its best free throw shooting night ever on the same night that they also give up the most regulation points to a single player ever. Also keeping the Bobcats in the game was the occasional hubris of Williams himself, who at one point in the fourth quarter elected for a pull-up 3-pointer on a 4-on-1 fast break (Williams is clearly aware that he’s above the law with the Nets nowadays; Mikhail Prokhorov would let D-Will murder a minor Russian oligarch of his choice if he thought it would convince him to sign an extension. Williams should just grow a Steven Seagal ponytail to complete the look).
Finally, the last interesting thing that happened in this game technically didn’t, when Augustin converted a lovely layup, and then did the ol’ steal-the-inbound-and-step-back-and-knock-down-a-trey, EXCEPT…Augustin stepped out of bounds on the steal, so none of it counted. D’oh! Anyway, if you were paying enough attention over the sound of your own cursing out of Silas’s defensive strategy, it was cool to see Augustin pull an awesome but meaningless Dead-Ball Reggie Miller. Just try to forget that Charlotte ended up losing the game by 3, meaning Augustin’s non-counting play could have been the difference. And after you fail to forget it, remember that you can swallow a pint of blood without getting sick.
This brings us to the Magic game. “Everything just fell into place. Hopefully, it can continue because this feels so good,” Silas told Richard Walker of the Gaston Gazette (before asking Walker what the hell the Gaston Gazette is). I’m not sure if Silas was talking about the game or reciting the lyrics to some old Al Green song, but either way I totally agree. Bismack Biyombo, my splendid Congolese warrior, will you ever forgive me? I was so, so wrong about you. 10, 15, and 7 for my magnificent African stallion, plus a neutralized Dwight Howard. Meanwhile, Corey Maggette finally seems to have abandoned his New Coke long-2-pointers flavor and gone back to the original drive-relentlessly-and-shoot-free-throws classic formula (25-of-27 from the line in the last two games). Heck, even Byron Mullins took time out of his busy schedule of chucking up lousy shots and not rebounding to go 3-for-5 from the field with 13 boards. I might be going out on a limb here, I’m prepared to say this was the best win of the year—one for the thumb!
Way to go, Bobcats. Just be careful anytime Diaw and Gana Diop are the only two DNPs. Think about it: that’s something like 600 pounds on one end of the bench and a potential disaster waiting to happen. All it would take is the two of them plopping down at the same time, and the next thing you know, poor Kemba Walker goes catapulting into the upper deck like he was fired out of one of those shirt-guns.