On a night when everything seemed to be going wrong, Stpehen Jackson stepped up with under a minute left in overtime to deliver a knockout blow to the Milwaukee Bucks, giving the Charlotte Bobcats the win, 87-86. This victory put the Bobcats just a game and a half out of the 5th spot in the East, and moved the Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot down to 4.
When you look up “overcoming” in the dictionary, the first thing you should see is this Bobcat roster. After Jackson had to leave when he re-injured his hamstring, Larry Brown was ejected in the 2nd quarter for arguing a missed call by the officials, along with poor nights for Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Boris Diaw, and Larry Hughes and the fourth-quarter foulout of Theo Ratliff. But in the end, the ‘Cats overcame all this adversity and gave Coach-for-the-night Dave Hanners a well-earned victory. Postgame, Hanners said “I can look at everybody that played and say ‘what a war’ because…I thought we matched their intensity in the second half and in overtime.” He also said “We’re close to them in the playoff race, it basically is like a playoff game…it is playoff intensity and there’s no question about it. Hanners also attributed the win to winning the war of the boards, where the ‘Cats succeeded in the second half, outrebounding the Bucks by 6 after halftime and pulling down 16 offensive rebounds. Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, and Theo Ratliff combined for 29 total rebounds (11 offensive boards), and Tyson Chandler added 6 off the bench, half of which were offensive rebounds. Jackson led all scorers with 32, and was joined by Raymond Felton (12 points) as the only Bobcats in double figures. Most of the 41 minutes Jackson was in the game centered around him and Milwaukee’s John Salmons. Salmons, who had 28, hit multiple clutch shots to go with his 3 that sent the game into overtime. However, he was unable to match Captain Jack, who hit a twisting floater from the three point line and a three point shot as the shot clock expired in both cases. Jackson also hit a three with just under a minute left in overtime that proved to be the winning bucket, after Tyson Chandler deflected a rebound to Raymond Felton to let time expire. Jackson said “I just thank God for giving me the strength, but if I can be out there and help my team and not hurt them then I’m going to be out there.” He also said that tonight was a “playoff atmosphere” and that “the refs [were] refereeing the playoff way.” Larry Brown didn’t think so, as he was given two technicals in three seconds for arguing a non-call, and then implored owner Michael Jordan, who was sitting courtside, to take up his case. MJ did so, often getting out of his seat and yelling, mostly at official Bill Spooner, who was responsible for many questionable calls. Jackson, who appeared to also be sick postgame, said “I got even more pumped up when Larry got kicked out, when Coach Brown got kicked out, because you’ll seldom see that. But when a guy’s fightin’ for you, you’ve gotta show him that you’re fightin’ for him also…that’s why I love him so much because he’s always fought for me since I’ve been here.” After it’s all said and done, I’d say Jack showed Larry that he fought for this team, helping his teammates battle through all the adversity to get the win.
Notes: When asked about why he thought Coach Brown was ejected, Hanners said there was no profanity and he was puzzled as to the reason…Jackson was asked if he’d ever seen a coach tossed this quickly: “Uh, no. But you never know with Don Nelson. Thats why I love Don Nelson, there’s been times when Don Nelson and me got kicked out, together…I know as much as LB coaches, he was back here going ‘No, do this, do that.’ I know he was back here, probably writing on the chalkboard talking to himself.”…Nazr Mohammed was active tonight for the first time since February 20th after having back spasms against these same Bucks, but he did not play…Gerald Henderson joined DeSagana Diop and Alexis Ajinca on the inactive list, though he is not hurt…All the players who entered the game for Charlotte scored…former Bobcat center Primoz Brezec was in town as a member of the Bucks, his fourth team since being traded shortly into the 2007-2008 season for Nazr Mohammed. Primoz did not play, however…The Bobcats are now in the top 5 in free throws attempted for the season.