Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wizards 121, Bobcats 109

The Cats traveled to DC to take on the Washington Gilberts in a game whose tempo contrasted heavily with the recent bogged-down quagmires against Miami and New Jersey. From a fan’s perspective, the impact was almost jarring; it was like listening to two straight hours of Boston’s greatest hits, and then suddenly switching over to Slayer.* I clearly wasn’t the only one struggling to keep up either. After one of several back-and-forth transition sequences, even color commentator Adrian Branch sounded like he needed Ritalin: “The Bobcats need to calm down, be aggressive, probe the defense, and attack!” was his somewhat convoluted advice. Let’s see…calm down but be aggressive…got it! All right, boys, let’s go probe and attack!

For the Bobcats, their biggest mistake was trying to match Wizard guard Gilbert Arenas speed for speed, compulsive disorder for compulsive disorder. Let’s face it: this is a man who, by his own admission, sleeps on a couch (even at home), frequently wakes up at 2 in the morning, orders someone to open up the team’s training facility, and goes to lift weights. And he doesn’t think that’s strange either. It’s a bad idea to try and one-up someone who, for all intents and purposes, is utterly insane. Arenas scorched us in every conceivable way: 33 points and 10 assists on three-pointers, drives, feeds, free-throws—all in fast-forward. How fast is Arenas? I’ve never seen so many people pick up fouls mostly for failing to get away from him in time—Adam Morrison picked up two despite looking like he was actively running in the OPPOSITE direction; he just couldn’t help getting gobbled up in Arenas’ tornado.

In general, the Wizards shot nearly 60% for the game and basically ran over us. Actually, the Bobcats shot fairly well too (52.5%). In fact, just about anything thrown up there seemed to fall; it was reminiscent of that scene in "Airplane!" when the natives pick up the balls for the first time and just start tossing them in from all directions. But with Wizards field goal, Raymond Felton and Brevin Knight tried to make it a race back down to the other end, and 21 turnovers and All-Star Game-caliber defense were the results. I guess Coach Bickerstaff’s gang couldn’t help themselves, especially when we were able to stay close for most of the contest—it was tied up at 63 at the half (making a further mockery of the Wizards’ pre-season claims of suddenly being born-again defensively).

We needed more from Emeka Okafor tonight (12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks). As lethally extreme as "Agent 0" is, we let Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood—neither of whom can do much from more than 0.1 feet away from the hoop—have their way with us. Okafor seems to be in a funk—maybe his new charity work has got him really upset about that AIDS situation in Africa. And for once I’m not joking either. Seeing poverty and social catastrophe on such a massive level can really fuck you up. He traveled three times, had five turnovers, and when he picked up his second foul not 5 minutes into the game he looked near tears. On the positive side, Morrison put up another 23 points and 4 assists, and BK (22 points, 9 assists) has really improved his stop-and-pop outside shot. Is MJ doing something with these guys? Knight, May, and Felton have all become remarkably consistent with their mid- to long-range jumpers.

But the bottom line is, because the Wizards are so out of control, they’re capable of beating themselves if you simply let them. We didn't let them, and hence we lost. And that sentence makes no sense. Perhaps I should get control and be more aggressive...

*Speaking of Slayer, did anybody see the profile on Etan Thomas in—I can’t remember which—SI or Included was a sample of Etan’s poetry, and it appeared to be stuff straight out of the "Reign in Blood" album—something about “soldiers emerging in flames,” “chemical destruction lays waste to the land,” etc. Hopefully someone at Metal Blades records caught it; with Thomas’s dreads, I’d say there’s some obvious Bad Brains-like potential there. And he’s from DC too, just like BB!

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