Let’s start with the good news, because there’s enough bad Bobcats news to depress a Syrian: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back from his concussion. He also seems to be back to normal, playing 39 minutes in the last two games. He’s only shot 2-for-11, including 0-for-4 on jump shots. On the other hand, he couldn’t make those shots before he was injured, so that doesn’t really mean anything. In fact, it would be funny if his knock on the head actually caused him to lose that weird hitch in his jumper. Also, if it made him think he was King Tut. All kidding aside, I’m really relieved MKG seems to be okay, because he’s the backbone of this team.
It’s just too bad this team is Christopher Reeve. You’re probably assuming that the Lakers loss two nights ago—featuring a blown 20-point Bobcats lead with about 17 minutes remaining—destroyed me, but it didn’t really; in fact, it only partially damaged me. I really think that 18-point choke-job against Portland back in December, followed two days later with another self-strangulation in New York, more or less inoculated me against future outbreaks of devastation. It’s like watching two of your kids die after suffering through long painful diseases over several years, and then a few months later, your third child suddenly gets sucked into an airplane turbine—sure, it hurts, but you’ve had worse. Let’s not forget that December also saw nearly the exact same thing happen to these Lakers in LA: the Lakers reeling and injured, the Bobcats coming out of the gates on fire, a huge third quarter lead squandered—been there, done that. I think I would have been surprised if the outcome had been different.
The only thing that really upset me was that this Lakers team visibly seemed to want to lose. I haven’t seen a team care that little since I saw the Bobcats two nights earlier in Cleveland. Dwight Howard moped pitifully the whole time and complained bitterly to the refs on every play (for a guy who once made it a stated goal to put a cross on the Jerry West logo, his performance certainly wasn’t very Jesus-y). I personally think he’s injured, and I’m half-rooting for his arm to fall completely off—not because I hate Howard (well, kind of, I do), but because I have a feeling Kobe Bryant would still be on his case for milking an injury. As for the Mamba himself, by now you’ve heard about his Manichean halves—2 shot attempts and zero points in the first half, 20 points in the second. Charlotte still might have survived Bryant’s onslaught had the Lakers not finally begun hitting the wide-open 3’s that the Bobcats had been handing to them all night on a silver platter with a side of get-your-own-rebound casserole. LA went 4-for-19 through 3 quarters, and then 3-for-5 in the fourth. And that was your ballgame. What goes up must come down with the Bobcats, and the lesson is that in those rare occasions when the Bobcats build a lead, it needs to be at least 20-points with less than 5 minutes to go, otherwise they won’t be able to overcome the gravitational pull of their suckage.
By comparison, the following night’s loss against Philadelphia was appreciated for its straightforward nature. The 76ers were in control for most of the night with a lead that generally hung in the mid-teens. The Bobcats were outrebounded by 20 and shot a disastrous 30.7%; in that sense, it was a throwback loss (we just needed the orange jerseys and the anecdotes of Matt Carroll hoping to have a good night in front of his hometown fans to make the retro night complete). The game was not exactly pure poetry for either team; in fact, if it were a poem, it would have been written by Dice Clay, because the Sixers shot under 42% themselves and were just 2-of-16 from 3-pointers. Nobody on either team scored more than 20 points, and if you had forced me to declare an MVP under the threat of subjecting me to a 24-hour marathon 1600 Penn, Lavoy Allen would have been declared the MVP because of his 22 rebounds.
That makes it 7 losses in a row for the Bobcats with two games until the All-Star Break, to which I’ve longed petitioned the league to add the word “Merciful.”
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