All I can say is, thank god for the Raptors and Thunder. After the Wizards started out the season 0-8, I checked to see when they were scheduled to play the Bobcats and circled it on the calendar—more like “skull-and-crossboned it.” As most of us probably remember, the Bobcats popped the Nets’ losing streak cherry back in the 2009-10 season after New Jersey started out 0-18. It’s not an embarrassment I was particularly interested in revisiting, especially when I have a group of co-workers who know I like the Bobcats, and who think of the NBA in general as a bunch of lazy thugs, who—when they are not brawling with fans—are busy choking their coaches. I only hear from these guys when the Bobcats and/or the NBA does something stupid (thus I hear from them more often than I’d like), and I’d frankly rather have my prostate examined while renewing my driver’s license at the DMV. Fortunately, the Wizards had already gotten their first win out of the way, so Wednesday night’s game was nothing more than an insignificant, humiliating meltdown.
What a relief, because those remaining Bobcats fans who hadn’t committed suicide by intermission might have noticed that Coach Paul Silas opted not to go with a center to start the second half. Considering our backcourt consisted of Kemba Walker and Matt Carroll, this was a strategy that was just crazy enough to…fail spectacularly. The lowlight had to have been Boris Diaw’s inexcusable failure to box out Rashard Lewis on Andray Blatche’s missed 32-foot hail-mary attempt to beat the shot clock. I’m totally befuddled why Gana Diop didn’t play more than 11 minutes—I know he’s out of shape, but has anyone taken a look at Blatche lately? Blatche keeps in game shape about as well as he solicits prostitutes, so I’m unclear why Silas decided to double-down on a tiny lineup.
But this game had so many lowlights, I bet you can’t eat just one. I counted 12 missed layups for both teams and a combined 55 turnovers. Walker is totally lost as a point guard; his 4 assists and 3 turnovers (in 38 minutes!) was actually an improvement over Tuesday’s game against the Knicks, in which his assist-to-turnover ratio was so horrible it actually ate itself (an inverted 2:4). The Bobcats were outrebounded by 13, and other than a great effort from Carroll and Tyrus Thomas–probably his best game of the season–the whole affair was a pile of steaming dog-doo, pissed on by a wino. (And what do I mean, “probably his best game of the season”? What would be my other candidate, that 4-pt, 4-rebound, 1-for-9 masterpiece the night before against the Knicks?)
On the other hand, how upset can you get when the team was decimated with injuries? Who are you supposed to blame for this—Carroll? It’d be like getting mad at one of my hillbilly cousins for not acing the LSAT. Gerald Henderson was out with a sore back (probably from carrying the team), DJ Augustin with an inflamed toe (the only outsized thing on the team), and Corey Maggette with the same old hamstring (my new nickname for him is “Rims”: really expensive, totally useless). Also DJ White was technically back but didn’t play much. My theory on White is that the Basketball Gods struck him down for his quote last Thursday in the Observer. Speaking about his role on the team, White said, “My college coach (Kelvin Sampson at Indiana) always told me there are only two things you control as a player—your attitude and your effort.” DJ, when your college coach is a disgraced repeated rules violator, you probably should either a) not quote his advice, or b) say the quote came from someone else, such as your dog.
Finally, did anyone else see John Hollinger’s recap of the Kings-Trailblazers game in ESPN’s Monday Daily Dime? I can barely finish this paragraph without bursting into tears:
Sacramento called timeout in an effort to stem the bleeding, but (Gerald) Wallace stole the subsequent inbounds pass for an easy fast-break layup. On the next trip, Wallace stripped the ball from DeMarcus Cousins and broke away for another uncontested lay-in. After the Kings finally scored, Wallace shifted gears and spotted up in the corner for a rare 3-pointer; he then swatted a Tyreke Evans layup at the other end to key a Portland transition that led to a Crawford 3. At that point, the game was effectively over.
RIP, Crash, I know you’re in a better place…