Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sonics 99, Bobcats 85

Okay, okay! Stop me if you've heard this one before: Bobcats go into halftime with a small, ground-out lead before completely crumbling in the third quarter. I understand this team isn't the Celtics of the 50's and 60's, but I'd at least like a little variety in my losing. I suppose the Memphis loss was different, but only because they crumbled in the fourth rather than the third quarter.

The Bobcats also continued their odd habit of rendering an upper-tier playmaker meaningless in the first half, only to watch him wake up, smell the soul-food, and realize he's playing Charlotte, for God's sake, and better get with it. Tonight, playing the role made famous by Mike Miller and Wally Szczerbiak, was Rashard Lewis. Lewis scored all of 2 points in the first half but finished with a game-high 21. Chris Wilcox also put in a workmanlike 12 points and 13 rebounds and played 31 minutes. These stats are significant, because Wilcox was a pre-season favorite to win the Jerome James Award for the player who completely quits the season after he lands a windfall contract and invests all of his money in personal Krispy Kreme consumption.

And then there was Ray Allen, whom I was curious to see in light of the controversial new basketball. People have been complaining that it has an adverse affect on shooting and handling. Oddly enough, the majority of these critics have been owners and journalists, rather than the athletes who, you know, actually shoot and handle the ball. But anyway, the critics claim that because of the new ball’s slippery texture, shooting percentages are way down and turnovers are way up. Watching the Bobcats, I haven’t noticed significant differences in performance, but then they’re never very good in those categories anyway. However, if sniper Ray Allen was having trouble shooting, I figured there may be something to the controversy. Allen put those rumors to permanent rest—for me, anyway—by hitting 4-6 three-pointers in his usual disinterested manner.

The night’s pleasant surprise was the Seattle announcing team. That cocoa-buttery-licious skin, that modified Elmer Fudd Brooklynese accent, who could it be now? It’s, its…Lenny Wilkens! I'm happy for him, because he looks positively glowing in his job, genuinely delighted to not be coaching anymore, and remains ever the gentleman. With the Bobcats en route to 17 turnovers and 40% shooting only if you round up the decimal, he politely referred to our play as “accommodating.” I liked that; it puts a kind of pleasant spin on our suckiness—play the Bobcats and enjoy deluxe accommodations!

Pleasant surprise #2 was Alan Anderson, who checked in from the planet Neptune and gave us 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a lot of spunk in 22 minutes. Lord, I had forgotten he was still on the team. Anderson was the beneficiary of a Raymond Felton DNP. On the flip side, Adam Morrison struggled mightily in his first game as a starter, hitting just 3-of-12 for 9 points. This is his second consecutive game of horrible shooting. In the local press, Coach Bickerstaff has actually been calling on Adam to shoot more, which seems somewhat counter-intuitive. Perhaps Coach B. mistook the word "more" for "better."

Pleasant surprise #3: Seattle Coach Bob Hill. With that hair, Bob Hill is the spitting image of Christopher Walken’s character in Batman Returns. Or Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future—take your pick. I’m shocked there haven’t been more articles about his zany appearance. The man is one Bunsen Burner and one bloody lab-coat away from completing the mad scientist look.

One good trend and one bad trend have continued. Emeka Okafor continued on his brutal blocking spree with three more, plus 20 points and 15 rebounds. However, Gerald Wallace, even with 14 points, continues to look very much like the guy who couldn’t find a spot on Golden State.

Walter Herrmann also made his debut, albeit in garbage time. He played 6 minutes and…sat back down again.

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