Friday, December 15, 2006

Bobcats 99, Magic 89

I’d like to begin this recap with an important public announcement, and I can only hope I’m not too late with this one; this could save lives. Here it is: Whatever you do, stay as far away as possible from the podcast interview between’s Chad Ford and NJ Nets President Rod Thorn. It is possibly the most excruciating few minutes I can ever remember—it makes Roseanne Barr’s singing of the national anthem sound like the Gettysburg Address. I kept expecting one of Thorn’s endlessly long-winded, rambling, non-answers to suddenly get interrupted by the sound of Ford stabbing himself. I’m sure Thorn is a nice guy, and he sounds smart, but without getting into details, you could seriously play this interview to beat a confession out of a POW.

Other developments: David Thorpe has released an in-depth scouting report on Adam Morrison. The most important thing to take away from Thorpe’s analysis is the final 5 words: “I think he will succeed.” Here’s the crazy thing, though: preceding those 5 words is a staggering 2,750 other words! Talk about comprehensive, this thing is longer than the Iraq Study Group report. Before realizing how long it was, I attempted to print it out and actually ran out of ink. Thorpe’s sweeping epic is broken down into four parts: “Offense With the Ball,” “Offense Without the Ball,” “Defense” (not surprisingly the shortest part), and “Outlook.” It’s too bad I don’t know any big Morrison fans, because I would have printed this thing out on nice paper and made a Christmas gift out of it.

Enough about that, onto the game! And no, it’s not a mistake, it actually was on TNT. All day long I kept waiting for TNT to announce that their televising of this game was either some sort of typo that had slipped through the cracks, or it was a practical joke played by Charles Barkley on Kenny, Ernie, and the gang. I was a little concerned for the Cats, because I think the only guy on the team who has played professionally in front of a national audience is Primoz, and even for him the “national” is referring to his native Slovenia. Heck, I became nervous for myself; I realized I better be accurate with what I report, because for the first time there’s a chance that someone actually watched this one.

So we had that working against us, but here’s what we had going for us: three Magic starters (Jameer Nelson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu) out of action with injuries. As a result, except for Dwight Howard, the poor Magic were forced to play with a Bad News Bears-caliber lineup. At PG was Pistons castoff Carlos Arroyo, who actually has nice moves and a decent outside shot but cannot pass to save himself, which is kind of important if you’re playing the 1. Some of Arroyo’s passes were downright safety hazards the way they went flying into the crowd. After about the fifth one of Arroyo’s ballistic slingshots went whipping dangerously into the audience, I became worried that Commissioner Stern, in attendance, will probably now consider putting up hockey-style plexiglass walls to protect the fans. Also starting was Tony Battie, who is so well-traveled that I imagine every year at family reunions at least one of his relatives asks, “So who you playing for these days?” Finally, Travis Diener got extensive burn, and he played extremely hard, but he’s about as terrifying a force as Luke Ridenour. He’s so tiny he makes Earl Boykins look like Hakeem Olajuwon. Interesting who didn’t get a lot of PT was Darco Milicic, with just 26 minutes despite the depleted lineup—has he already lost the respect of Coach Brian Hill?

Faced with this rag-tag group of misfits, the Cats cruised to a pretty easy victory. We were a little stiff at first, but Sean May came in off the bench with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter and immediately took over. He scored 13 of the team’s next 25 points and had a career night. When he wasn’t scoring field goals he was getting fouls (and making them—14/17 from the line). The big guy finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds, a block, and a steal, and the Magic really didn’t have any answer for him. Gerald Wallace also looked a little more like his old self (6 steals).

Beating this depleted Magic team is not exactly the upset of the year, but after four straight losses (not to mention three straight for the Panthers), beggars can’t be choosers. Heck, I’d have settled for a 1-point, triple-OT exhibition victory over the Charlotte Sting at this point. Oh, and Morrison did pretty well to boot (22 points and 6 rebounds). I’d like to see it expanded and fleshed out a little bit more, but Thorpe may be onto something with that little memo of his...

No comments: