Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bobcats 92, Celtics 83

Charlotte hosted Boston on Thanksgiving Eve in the team’s first rematch of the season. Prior to tip-off, my only request was to have anyone but Wally Szczerbiak beat us. This is how we Bobcats fans set our goals: we pick ways we don’t want to lose. We’d make excellent death row victims in this respect: we’ve already accepted our fate, now just let us pick our means of execution in order to make the experience as painless as possible. And of course not two minutes in, there goes Wally flopping on the floor and hitting the ground like a safe for no discernable reason. C’mon Wally, act like a man, Big Bad Brevin Knight isn’t even playing tonight. Hey, Wally is American-born, right? It is an East European name…hmmm…Are you racist if you think all Europeans flop? Forget it, I better shut up before I pull some sort of Michael Richards.

A few minutes later, I upgraded my request: I didn’t want to have Brian Scalabrine beat us either. The stats say the much maligned, frequent Bill Simmons target only saw about fourteen minutes of “action,” but it seems like he was in there much longer. It also seemed like he took a lot more than four shots—that’s how excruciating he is to watch; he’s like an even less-skilled Eric Dampier. I can see why Bill hates him so much. It’s borderline insulting to have to cheer against him, as if the opposing coach is rubbing it in by putting him out there; I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to cheer for him.

And I can see why practically every other column Bill writes criticizes Celtic management. In an interview with Chad Ford the other day, Celtic GM Danny Ainge was saying something about not wanting to pull the trigger on a trade involving any of Boston’s young guys too quickly before they’ve had a chance to develop. But I’ve got news for you, Danny, you don’t “develop” 8 inches of height—look how small this lineup is! Of course, some of these guys are so young they might still be due for a growth spurt. But right now, there are no bigs to speak of, unless you count Kendrick Perkins, who is so stiff he looks like he’s playing with ping pong paddles stapled to his hands. How much longer is Ainge going to wait? You don’t think the Timberwolves would be interested in a Garnett-Pierce swap? The Bobcats had free-range to get in the lane last night and took full advantage of it. The really surprising stat is that Emeka Okafor didn’t go for 30, 20, and 10 blocks.

Well, as usual I tend to spend half of these columns talking trash about the other team, which is pretty ridiculous considering my own squad is 3-8. Tonight’s hero was Raymond Felton, who logged 48 minutes in BK’s absence and registered 16 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds. Adam Morrison scored 26 as well, but here’s the thing: he went 5-6 in the first quarter and then 3-9 the rest of the way. Those last three came in the fourth quarter, including a big 3-pointer that pretty much cemented the win, which is why no one will complain. But we’ve seen this a few times from him now: a big first quarter and then a sharp decline in performance the rest of the way. Is it the diabetes? Perhaps Coach Bickerstaff should consider implementing some play/nap/nap/play quarterly rotation for him.

There were a couple of positive omens early on. In the second quarter, Matt Carroll did one of his patented drives to the hoop, laid it up there, and then—get this—the ball just went in. That’s it! End of story. No ridiculous charging call, no weird bounce, no technical foul from someone not even involved in the play that negates everything--nothing! This is such a rarity for the perpetually star-crossed Carroll that I took it as a harbinger of hope. And sure enough, in the fourth quarter young Matthew was huge, getting 9 points and becoming Paul Pierce’s personal gadfly.

The other encouraging beacon was Gerald Wallace in the third quarter getting one of his signature steal-and-breakaways. Welcome back, G-Dub! It’s been, what, a year now since we’ve seen you.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the crowd was excited and we sent 'em home happy to their awaiting poultry carcasses. The team was pumped too. Jake Voskuhl got a bucket-and-one in the fourth and acted like he just scored a soccer goal. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless us one and all. Too bad I’m stuck with Time-Warner Cable and hence will get no good football games tomorrow. Oh well, I’ll just have to make do with the Lions-Dolphins and Cowboys-Bucs. What else am I going to do, spend time with my family or something? Please.

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