We’re entering the homestretch of the schedule, which in this miserably depressing season feels like the end of a 10-mile escape on foot from a homicidal maniac with a butcher knife, only to encounter a finish line surrounded by a hoard of reanimated cannibal corpses. Bobcats fans seem to run this race annually and know the course well, so it’s no surprise when we get games like last night’s, in which Fox Sports Carolinas is openly hyping other games on other networks that are infinitely more interesting right on the broadcast, such as the Heat-Celtics or UNC women’s lacrosse. In the case of last night’s Wizards game, I’m guessing those who didn’t switch channels either had their TVs on earlier in the day and at some point either died, went blind, or were abducted.
And they were the lucky ones. Because although Charlotte won, 119-114, the Bobcats and Wizards put on a 4th quarter that was really something else—something else besides recognizable professional basketball, that is. To set the stage, the first three quarters had been something akin to enjoyable. There was zero defense being played, mind you—these two teams couldn’t follow each other on Twitter, let alone cover each other—but if you could only pick one, offense or defense, you’d take offense, right? That seems to be the choice both coach Dunlap and coach Wittman made, because the Bobcats led 94-89 going into the 4th quarter.
And then the Bobcats made just 6 field goals for all of the 4th quarter, including a 6:40 stretch without a single field goal. Described by Gerald Henderson afterward as a “lull,” I’ve given it my own nickname, “4th quarter,” as it comes on the heels of the Celtics game, in which the Bobcats had just five 4th quarter FGs; and the Raptors game, in which they had just one. Fortunately for the Bobcats, this latest “4th quarter” came against Washington, who a) could only match their 6 field goals, and b) managed to foul the Bobcats 11 times. So any team other than the Wizards would have won easily by holding its opponent to 6 4th quarter field goals in a close game, and any team other than the Bobcats would have won easily if they had gotten that many free trips to the foul line. But these weren’t any other teams, they were each other. And thus the Bobcats made 5 straight trips to the foul line and only hit 1-of-2 shots, keeping the Wizards in it as they were keeping the Bobcats in it—it was a buddy system of suckage.
In their refusal to win, though, the Wizards would not be denied. With a 3-point lead and 2:12 to play, the Washington called a full time out. Trevor Ariza then handled the inbound and executed a flawless give-and-go to…Kemba Walker, leading to a 3-pointer by Ben Gordon (oh, to have a screensaver of the look on coach Wittman’s face). Then John Wall missed a layup of Bismackian simplicity along with two point-blank putbacks, allowing Walker to grab the rebound and hit an (admittedly) impressive running bank shot. Then Wall committed an offensive foul while driving on Walker (eventually resulting in one of the least-likely foul-outs of all-time), leading to a Walker layup. And finally, Ariza made his second bad pass turnover in 60 seconds flat, leading to a Henderson 3-pointer. I say “finally,” because that effectively ended things, although the incompetence continued right through to the buzzer—Gordon turned it over, there were some more fouls and missed free throws, etc.
Sorry, maybe this is all a “glass-half-empty” view of things. After all, Walker took advantage of everything the Wizards dropped in his lap in those last few minutes. Josh McRoberts (17 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 5 passing thoughts of proper defensive positioning) easily had his best game as a Bobcat (and probably as a Pacer, Laker, and Magic (Magician?)). And Henderson also had another standout performance, including a wonderful block on Trevor Booker in the 3rd that if nothing else will hopefully force me to remember to stop calling him “Cory” Booker (I keep confusing his name with that of Newark’s saintly, Christ-like figure of a mayor). Thus the glass-half-full view would be that the younger guys are gelling. That’s definitely the viewpoint coach Dunlap endorses. “I was brought in to develop players,” Dunlap said in response to a question about Henderson’s recent improved play. “His development is not deniable. So is Kemba’s.” Coach Dunlap forgot to add “beeyotch,” but he’s probably right.
Somehow the Bobcats play the Raptors again on Wednesday, so make sure to mark your calendars and pack something to get you through the fourth quarter, such as heroin.
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