Sunday, December 17, 2006

Celtics 106, Bobcats 100

Time for Round 3 of this year’s Boston-Charlotte Trilogy, and although it hasn’t exactly been Ali-Frazier, it’s hasn’t been Holyfield-Ruiz either. Once again no News14 coverage (although if you looked close during the last two games, you could actually see poor Matt Devlin sitting sadly in his announcer’s chair anyway, looking pitiful without his headphones—he’s like an angel stripped of his wings), so we have to go with Boston’s FSN “commentators,” and I use the term loosely.

Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn get my early vote for worst announcers in the league. These guys announce like Brian Scalabrine plays. Had I not known that one of them was a former Hall of Fame player, I would have had difficultly distinguishing who was play-by-play and who did the color. They were both clueless, the kind of commentators who never have any idea what happened when a whistle blows, wait for the arena announcer to tell the crowd (“Foul on # 3, Gerald Wallace, his second”), then insultingly repeat it to TV viewers (“That one was on Gerald Wallace, #3 for the Bobcats, and that’ll be his second one of the game.”), as if we can’t hear the arena announcer for ourselves. I know I’m treading on shaky ground here, because Heinsohn is a Boston legend, but I have no idea how Boston viewers can stand him. Other than offering key analytical points like “Wow!” and “Yes!” after Celtic field goals, his four primary functions last night were:

1) Accusing the Bobcats of fouls while they were on defense
2) Accusing the Bobcats of traveling while they were on offense
3) Giving out “Tommy Points” (in which a cheap little “Tommy” cartoon pops up on the screen, reminiscent of Whammies on the old game show Press Your Luck) at arbitrary moments when he saw hustle from the Celtics (to give you an idea of their worth, I think Scalabrine got two)
4) Complaining of having his view blocked. He literally did this about six times, which is really not something you want to hear from someone who is supposedly getting paid to watch the game—did he not have a monitor??

I’m sure I’m just a bitter jerk who’s pissed his team lost, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Celtics fans actually loved Tommy. They probably keep him around the way Yankees fans used to tolerate Phil Rizzuto. But at least Phil was amusing; he told stories, and he never talked bad about the other team. Heinsohn just hurls accusations and sounds senile. He baselessly accused Wallace of sticking his leg out under Celtics shooters “a la World B. Free” which was ridiculous for two reasons: 1) after what he’s gone through, no one is more reticent of not harming others nowadays than Wallace; and 2) if Heinsohn wants to make “ankle-turning goon” comparisons, someone should tell him that the more updated culprit (by nearly thirty years) is Bruce Bowen.

As for the game, the injury bad news was plentiful for both sides. The Celtics were without Ryan Gomes, and I think the only one more upset about this than Boston fans was me, because this meant extended playing time for the atrocious Scalabrine. I can’t emphasize enough how much I hate watching him play; I find not just his skills but his entire appearance to be a desecration of the game. He makes me feel the way I imagine the President feels when he watches footage of someone burning the flag. The Bobcats, meanwhile, had no Brevin Knight, and when Raymond Felton picked up two quick fouls, Derek Anderson of all people took the point.

Which brings us to…this will be hard to even type…Sean May, who sprained his ankle early in the second period and didn’t return. Of course he was in the midst of scoring eight points in ten minutes, spurring us on a 13-2 run. And of course as soon as he left, we blew a 9-point lead. After several screams of helpless horror, I had two thoughts: 1) why oh WHY couldn’t his injury have happened against a team like Phoenix, rather than against one of the few teams we actually have a chance of beating; 2) I was willing to trade BK and May to Philly for Iverson right now, on the condition that AI be ready to come in at the start of the third quarter. *

To their credit, the Cats rallied and were in it until the end. Okafor had 19 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. He missed some key put-backs but still finished with 12 points. Wallace was a force of nature: 31 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and a steal. Felton slashed for 16 points and 6 assists. The problem, as usual, was Paul Pierce, who started 7-for-7 from the field (Heinsohn on Pierce: “Wow!”), finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds, and took over in the end, as expected. Meanwhile Tony Allen and Al Jefferson (both of whom Heinsohn frequently referred to as “Al”) have suddenly become potent offensively. Jefferson had 22 points and 10 rebounds (Heinsohn on Jefferson: “Look at Al!”), and the explosive Allen had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals (Heinsohn on Allen: “Look at Al!”).

As a final insult, the game effectively ended with the Bobcats blowing a 3-on-1 breakaway late. The “1” was Scalabrine. It was that kind of night…

*FYI: This did not happen, and now that I've had a moment to step back, I've since retracted that thought.

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