A raucous crowd of nearly 200 saw the Bobcats saw take on the Nets Wednesday night. I’ve seen larger crowds at cockfights, although I suppose you could chalk it up to the weather. The “modest” attendance had me wondering if sometime soon we’ll actually hear commentator Matt Devlin say things like, “Good seats are still available for upcoming games. In fact they’re still available for this very game. If you act now, you could probably get here by halftime.” Of course, this is based on the assumption that we’ll actually hear Matt Devlin say anything again, because as usual there was no local television coverage.
Actually, no local television coverage when you’re playing the Nets is not necessarily a bad thing, because it means you get to hear Mark Jackson talk for the YES Network. Quite often I complain about having to listen to “homer” commentators simply cheering on their teams, but with MJ you actually get the opposite; listening to his dry criticism, it’s quite obvious he actually despises the Nets, which is sort of a refreshing change of pace. Perhaps the NBA should try this more often; for instance, when Kobe Bryant retires, let’s see if we can get him to call Heat games.
Anyway, it was nice to see the boys again! Thanks to the blackout against the Bucks, it had been since Friday that I last saw the gang. Looks as if Adam Morrison got a haircut—I kinda liked it, it made him look vaguely like Talia Shire in the first Rocky movie. As for the game itself, the Bobcats took what appeared to be a hopelessly depressing blowout, made some creative adjustments, and succeeded in turning it into a really weird blowout. The goofiness started with inserting Jeff McInnis and Melvin Ely into the game really early, in the hopes that they would be playing with chips on their shoulders against the team that rejected them. McInnis responded by immediately slamming an alley-oop, after which he ran over to Nets coach Lawrence Frank and taunted him with shouts of “What! What!” while giving him the “you-can’t-see-me” hand wave. Oh wait, no he didn’t. In fact I seem to remember that he turned it over. But he did finish with 2 points, and at least was remembered on the active roster. Ely’s reappearance was less successful; perhaps his vengeance was tempered by the fact that the Bobcats have shown they don’t want him either. For the record, the Nets responded by not even bothering to dress Bernard Robinson.
Then in the second quarter Coach Bernie Bickerstaff was ejected. In a way, he was the lucky one, because it meant he didn’t have to watch anymore. I was almost jealous; it’d be cool if reporters could get ejected from games like these. I suppose I could if I started swearing really loud at the television to the point that my wife “T’s me up” by turning it off on me.
Instead, I watched scion J.B. Bickerstaff take over and…wow, I’ve got to give him credit—you certainly can’t accuse him of just doing the "same old, same old." For starters, he threw Ryan Hollins into the fray. That’s right, RH made his rookie debut and scored 7 points! In fact, if you turned the game off at halftime, you really missed out, because Hollins later committed one of the more spectacular goaltending violations you’ll ever see. In the fourth quarter, Hollins violently spiked a Vince Carter bank shot after it actually struck the backboard UNDER the rim. Technically, by the way it bounced off the glass, Carter’s shot appeared to have a better chance of going into the Bobcats basket before Hollins knocked it down, but I loved the energy.
Meanwhile, J.B.’s other coup was to pull the old “Hack-a-Shaq” maneuver on Nets inept free throw shooter Jason Collins. The Bobcats began fouling Collins when he was comically nowhere near the ball, forcing him to brick foul shots. Interestingly, Lawrence Frank had no idea how to handle this; it was like finding a move that repeatedly trips up the computer in a video game. The Bobcats actually sliced the 23-point lead all the way down to 6. We couldn’t quite close the gap though, and the Nets won out. Interestingly, for once our loss came in spite of the refs, who appeared to be doing everything they could to give us the win. The Nets were over the foul limit only about 4 minutes into the 4th quarter on calls that weren’t just zany, they were downright bonkers.
Well, in the end, I suppose it was all good theater. You should check it out if you get a chance (assuming you can find tickets).