Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bobcats 95, Spurs 92 (OT)

Spurs. Bobcats. 6-1. 1-6. Besides the obvious marketability of the records-being-a-palindrome angle, I have to admit I was struggling for a reason to care about this one going in. On the road against the Spurs, with Coach Popovich already PO’d over San Antonio’s poor showing the night before against the Rockets (even though they still won), this game looked to have all the drama of a porno flick. For Bobcats fan(s), it would also probably be the ultimate test in finding the bright side. Basically, as long as we kept the deficit under 20 for most of the way, and no one rolled their ankles on a Bruce Bowen cheap shot, I would have happily called it a moral victory.

Just looking at the Spurs lineup, hearing their raucous crowd, and listening to their announcers, Dave Barnett and Sean Elliot, talk about how this 6-1 team better “start picking up their performance,” I felt like a poor kid pedaling his bicycle through the rich neighborhood. In fact, Barnett and Elliot are a pretty smug little duo; they practically sound like a bad guy heel tag-team doing a WWE interview. They discussed the importance of taking away “what little confidence the Bobcats have left,” “not letting the lesser team hang around,” and predicted that Adam Morrison “didn’t get bodied-up at Gonzaga the way he will against Bruce Bowen tonight.” Now I actually like San Antonio. I have many fond, drunken memories of stumbling along the River Walk. I love the way they play the beat from Dr. Dre’s “The Watcher” when the team brings it up court. But when the Spurs act so full of themselves that Manu Ginobli doesn’t even bother flopping in the first half? Oh yeah, it’s on!

Awesome “teacher vs. pupil” match-up down low between Duncan and Okafor. Emeka actually blocked Timmy twice in the first half, and the two went back and forth—you could almost hear the light-sabers clashing. Timmy finished with more points and rebounds (24-13 to 19-9), but Emeka had 5 blocks to Duncan’s 0. Advantage goes to the grasshopper. Strangely, despite its obvious success rate, the Bobcats abandoned feeding Okafor down low in the second half, and instead relied more on their outside jump-shooting. Considering the team’s 30-something shooting percentage, this “strategy” had me using several seriously bad words—it was like Indiana Jones deciding to fight the swordsman hand-to-hand rather than simply pulling out the revolver. But fortune was on our side tonight, as we shot a somewhat miraculous 44%, including 4-9 from three-point land.

The real story of the game was the turnovers, and for once it was the other team’s that doomed them. The Spurs lost the ball an uncharacteristic 18 times, and 12 of them were steals. We had three straight huge snatches early on in the fourth quarter to help us build a 7 point lead. The other stat Spurs fans can use to talk themselves into believing this game was an anomaly is they went an abysmal 2-17 from behind the arc (they’re 40+% normally). Elliot’s sense of entitlement never shown through better when he cried, “This team can’t catch a break!” after another Robert Horry brick. Ahh, Sean? Three-pointers aren’t foregone conclusions—hence the phrase “missed the lay-up” rather than “missed the long-distance 3-pointer with guys in his face.”

Still, the game went into OT after Okafor missed both free throws with the Spurs in need-to-foul mode. Here we go again, I sighed. We’ve had so many teams on their backs and down for the count, only to let them escape our clutches, that I’m starting to feel like a James Bond villain. But here was Adam Morrison knocking down his 27th point (a contemptuous Elliot: “Morrison’s feeling a little too good about himself”), there was Tony Parker NOT getting the “Dwyane Wade treatment” on his drives (and throwing tantrums as a reult), and here was fiery little BK icing it with his suddenly lights-out 15-footer.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a pretty miserable sports fan most of the time. When my teams lose, I’m furious. And when they win, I’m merely temporarily appeased. My celebrations are about as animated as Carcetti’s when he won the mayoral election on The Wire. But this one felt good…

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