Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wizards 114, Bobcats 107

Open Memo to Your top two headlines currently read “Iraqis Brace for Saddam Execution” and “Colorado Braces for New Blizzard.” I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before we hear about “California Bracing for Ford Funeral.” Let’s go, CNN headline department, you’re putting forth a Vince-Carter-in-Toronto effort right now. I know you’ve got a “Thesaurus” function on your Word program, so make use of it.

Anyway, the Charlotte Bobcats braced for the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. The Wizards, fresh off beheading the Memphis Grizzlies the night before, continued terrorizing the Eastern Conference by throttling us 114-107. We put up a good fight though, spearheaded by a spectacular individual effort by Gerald Wallace. I don’t play fantasy basketball, but I assume that anyone who does would find G-Dub’s performance awesome to the point of being mildly arousing: 40 points, 14 rebounds, 6 steals, and 4 blocks. Emeka Okafor was also his usual studly self, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Adam Morrison went for 17 points and 5 assists off the bench. The problem, as usual, was shooting: we hit a smaller percentage of field goals than the Wizards did 3-pointers (42.9% to 43.8%).

How easy is Eddie Jordan’s job nowadays? What does he say in huddles? Does he even draw up plays? Gilbert Arenas is so ridiculously good that any plays a Coach tries to run would be considered micromanaging. In order to look like he’s doing something for the cameras during time-outs, I imagine Jordan pulls out his dry-erase board and begins scribbling, but the whole time he’s probably just saying “Give it to Gil and let him do his thing” while doodling his favorite “Peanuts” characters. This certainly explains why Jordan is one of the more entertaining dressers in the NBA—all that free time gives him ample opportunity to think about how he can spice up his wardrobe. Last night’s purple-and-checkered ensemble was a cross between a used car salesman getup and Jack Nicholson’s Joker from Batman.

In my opinion, Gilbert Arenas is the best player in the League right now. I used a very scientific formula to determine this, and it’s known as the “Hugh Hate Rating.” I hate Arenas, and I mean that as a compliment (as opposed to when I say I hate, say, Brian Scalabrine), because he consistently quashes rallies. Every time the Bobcats come back (we were down 16 in this one), Gilbert will casually begin making 3-pointers like he’s tossing some eggs on a frying pan after just waking up. This has happened repeatedly over the past three seasons and it hasn’t gotten any less demoralizing. Playing against Arenas is like spending two hours building an elaborate model, only to have someone come in and stomp it out in thirty seconds. He scores so effortlessly—particularly from long range—I think it’s actually been detrimental to his career, because he looks like he doesn’t care. In actuality, though, it’s because he’s so strong that it's just not physically taxing.

As well as he plays, Arenas also benefits greatly by getting some hearty “Dwyane Wade” treatment from the refs. He was at the line 16 times, and it seemed every one of his possessions resulted in a basket, a whistle, or both. And the Wizards didn’t need any help either, as they shot 72% in the first half and built up a 10-point lead. Poor Raymond Felton, on the other hand, continues to get “Raymond Felton” treatment and was limited with foul trouble. With Felton sitting, Wallace picked it up and Walter Herrmann mysteriously played almost the entire second quarter for us even though Matt Carroll was available—was that intentional? I kept waiting for the cameras to catch Coach Bickerstaff in the following conversation with one of his assistants:

Assistant: Hey, how long are you going to leave Walter out there?
Coach B.: What are you talking about? Walter’s not out—oh $#*%! I thought that was Matt!

Nevertheless, we came all the way back and closed out the third ahead 83-82. Wallace personally outscored the Wizards 18-16 in the quarter, and made FGs in every conceivable fashion: off his own steals, off alley-oops, off back-down moves, and off what looked to be Brendan Haywood’s head at one point. I had to admit I didn’t see this one coming, because generally when the Bobcats are losing big at the half they simply end up losing REALLY big at the end. The only explanation I could come up with was that the Wizards, like me, became confused by this really long “” advertising banner that’s starting popping up on our scorer’s table recently. What is this company/service? I’m still not even sure what it says exactly, because it’s so long you can’t ever get it all on the TV screen at one time.

Bob Johnson’s New Year’s Resolution should be getting us a point guard, especially if we have big guys who are DNPCD (as Othella Harrington and Melvin Ely were last night). We don’t even need anyone great; I’d simply settle for someone who naturally plays the 1. As Raymond headed for the bench with his sixth foul and three minutes to go, I was hoping the cameras would show Brevin Knight suddenly stand up, rip open his suit, Superman-style, revealing a Bobcats jersey underneath, and take the floor. Didn’t happen, unfortunately…

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