Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bobcats 113, Pacers 102

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have Charlotte defeating Indiana on Saturday night for their unprecedented second win in a row. The Bobcats also completed a 1-for-1 trade with the Injury List, getting Sean May for Gerald Wallace straight up--hard to believe that a) Wallace has been seriously injured twice by the Indiana Pacers this year, and b) neither of the incidents involved Stephen Jackson. Other than Gerald’s separated shoulder and rib contusion, however, it was all good news for the Cats, who had one of those blowout/collapse/blowout-style wins. Charlotte built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, lost it all and were trailing by three in the fourth, then blew it open again at the end to win by 11, providing one of those rare opportunities to have my vision obstructed by opposing fans filing out of the arena early.

I remember an old Mad Magazine issue in which they had “Mad Jeopardy,” and one of the Answers was, “He defeated Jimmy Carter to win the Democratic nomination in the 1980 elections,” and the Question was, “Who was Jimmy Carter?” That’s kind of how this game went, as the Bobcats beat the Indiana Pacers thanks largely to the help of the Indiana Pacers. First of all, Indiana went a horrendous 26/40 from the free throw line to go with 4/17 on 3-point attempts. But more than that, Indiana just had a despondent, sulking attitude in general. Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal were visibly frustrated early and often and Rick Carlisle got ejected in the third quarter for arguing a foul call. I have no idea what Indiana was so pissy about, considering the Pacers had won two straight (including the night before against the Pistons), they were only trailing by a few points at the time, and they were at home--it’s like the entire team was PMS-ing.

For the Cats, Sean May could not have picked a better time to return. At the end of the previous night's marathon with the Lakers, Emeka Okafor was staggering around, looking like my buddy Nate used to when the Bar None had its 4-AM last call—EO definitely was going to need backup for this one (everyone was dragging, by the way; sometimes it felt like watching a game of water polo). Even though he’s been out for several days, May looked to be in great shape. Apparently he’s been working out and he says he’s lost 20 pounds.* Though at first it looked like the only skills May’s ankle sprain hadn’t affected were his ability to commit fouls and traveling violations, he got it going in the end with Gerald out, getting a clutch 8 rebounds and 8 points to help seal it.

Meanwhile, Okafor had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. For whatever reason, the pick-and-rolls he’s been running with Raymond Felton have absolutely befuddled opposing teams lately. Even though it’s probably the most basic play in the game, defenses are helpless against it like it’s some unstoppable, mystical ancient ninja move. Speaking of Felton, 19 assists! 6 rebounds! Fans, there’s still time: log onto and vote for your favorite Bobcats to play in this year’s All-Star game (live from Las Vegas!).

But the gold star of the night goes to Adam Morrison and his 30 points and 6 rebounds. 9/17 from field, 2/2 from 3-point land, and 10/11 on the foul line. Plus one odd-ball quote afterward, as Morrison attributed his success to the advice of Suns point guard/Eastern metaphysical philosopher Raja Bell: "Raja Bell said it to me,'' Morrison recalled, "just slow down and let it come to you.'' I’m wondering if Morrison didn’t confuse Bell with someone else** , considering Raja seems to communicate with opposing players primarily by flagrantly fouling them. But if Raja did say those words, I wish he’d put more stuff like that in his recurring column, rather than mostly just talking about how much he likes to play poker and take naps.

*Okay, I made that up (it just seems like they always say that any time a player comes off an injury).

**Not to mention some other team, as the Suns aren’t exactly known for slowing games down—didn’t they just have an entire book written about their ability to execute in under seven seconds?

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