Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bobcats 92, Cavaliers 88

Okay, first things first: we need to get Liv Tyler a permanent courtside pass. For some unknown reason, the moderately popular actress was in attendance last night and as a result, the Bobcats scored a highly unlikely victory. What did Tyler’s appearance have to do with the win? Possibly nothing. Then again, can you think of a better explanation for why we held LeBron to 16 meaningless points? Why our turnovers were kept to a respectable 15? Why we won despite getting out-rebounded 46-34? Why we went a shockingly decent 23-of-30 from the free throw line (actually that one has a great explanation: Okafor and Wallace only took 4 total foul shots). Very little about last night’s game made any sense, and therefore my delight is superseded only by my perplexity.

I’ve been secretly wondering why Cleveland is so highly touted this year. Everyone’s been praising LeBron’s “business savvy” for not signing a max contract extension and keeping his options open, but I’m more confused why he even re-signed at all. What did Cleveland do or say to convince him that they were building a better team?

I know the answer to the “do” part: nothing. In fact, they’ve regressed in personnel by losing Flip Murray to the Pistons. So now they’ve got Eric Snow running the point, inconsistent Larry Hughes and his highly variant attention span at the 2, glue-guy Drew Gooden, and foul magnet/Russian mafia hitman look-alike Zydunas Ilgauskus lumbering around center. And that’s it. Donyell Marshall does little more than resemble a 6-9” version of heroin addict Bubble on The Wire, Damon Jones is good for some unintentional comedy, and Anderson Varejo runs around very energetically but also very aimlessly. What about that lineup convinced LeBron that the Cavs meant business?

For them to make a serious run in the playoffs this year, LeBron is going to have exceed Kobe Bryant's singlehanded efforts last year, because this team is even more stiff than the Lakers. LeBron's basically going to “out-Kobe” Kobe. So maybe it wasn’t about the money or the franchise. Maybe he really is simply loyal to his home state of Ohio, maybe he really does just want to give back to the community that raised him. Maybe deep down, LeBron has realized that there is something more important in life than wealth, power, prestige, and endorsements. But what is this precious "it"? I'm guessing it's tax benefits—they have to be much greater in Ohio than New York.

On to the game. It was kind of an ugly foul-fest. Cleveland pulled out to an early lead and things seemed to be progressing as normal. They hit on the magic yet aesthetically excrutiating formula of feeding Z and letting him get fouled. Drew Gooden was also all over the court, and I was soon seriously contemplating flipping over to see another of my teams with an equally unlikely chance of winning: the U. of Miami, hosting Virginia Tech in college football. The Cleveland announcers (once again, no local coverage) were praising the Cavs for holding Charlotte to 36% shooting—if only they understood how little that’s saying. All our bigs got in early foul trouble: Voskul, Okafor, and even third-man-in Melvin Ely. Primoz Brezic, by the way is STILL not in the lineup. In fact, the reason listed is now “exhaustion”—is this a downgrade from “fatigue?”

The Bobcats slowly narrowed the gap in the second quarter, but I attributed that mostly to the fact that the Cavs were resting LeBron after Cleveland’s big win against the Spurs last night. I kept watching and tried to enjoy what I could, even if it was only tangentially a part of the game. For instance, the night’s trivia question was, “What was the name of the original arena that the Cavs played in?” The answer was…Cleveland Arena. Huh? Doesn’t that seem like a kinda stupid question? I mean, if you were to ask someone that question and the person had no idea what the answer would be, wouldn’t a sort of default stab be to just name the city or team, followed by either “Arena” or “Stadium?” I say it's not a very good trivia question if anyone has a pretty good chance of randomly answering correctly.

Other items of interest: the Charlotte arena announcer was continuously imploring the crowd to “make some noise,” and even becoming mildly antagonistic with taunts of “I can’t hear you!” After several iterations of this, you could sense the crowd’s growing annoyance. With the team well on it’s way to going 0-3 and looking AWFUL doing so, shouldn't the front office just be happy that people are paying to show up?

Somehow the Bobcats hung around, and this was largely due to Raymond Felton’s first big night. With Wallace still looking a little woozy from his spill in the opener (and also wearing a bizarre band-aid on his shoulder that looked as out of place as Nelly’s), Raymond began doing everything, getting 23 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Most important, he was getting to the free throw line, something he hadn't done in the first two games. And—get this—he was actually MAKING them!! 11-for-13—as I said, nothing made sense here.

In the fourth quarter, it was highly amusing listening to the Cavalier announcers’ objectivity slowly go out the window. It started with little “this Charlotte team keeps hanging around” comments here and there and eventually disintegrated into “c’mon ref, that was a travel!” outpourings of frustration. This is why I know I could never be an announcer—I would be like that midway through the first quarter.

So the Bobcats got their first win! And we have an excellent shot at beating the 0-3 Celtics in a few days. Flipping over, I see Miami eventually lost out to Virginia Tech. But the Panthers have a bye, which after their play the last two games is as good as a win in my book—what a victorious weekend!

1 comment:

the?'s said...