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Blogcat's Take, 11/16

The last two matchups have played out like a game of Doom, with the Bobcats blasting Miami and then getting blasted by Atlanta.  The Heat game on Tuesday made for a pleasurable companion piece to our earlier victory over them this season, a sort of Kill Heat, Vol. 2.  I guess that made Gerald Wallace the Bride, as he slashed Miami for 19 points, 7 boards, and a jaw-dropping block on Shaquille O’Neal that really iced things. 
In general, though, the Heat finished themselves off with a 38.5 field goal percentage and just one 3-pointer the whole night, low-lighted by Udonis Haslem and Ricky Davis, who combined to shoot just 6 of 25 from the field, despite being more open than a Waffle House at 2 AM.  Although Shaq supposedly had his “best” game of the season (17 points), I counted at least 4 misses on his part that were either slams or alley-oops.  Miami is still capable of coming out strong, intimidating, and seemingly overwhelming, but they can't sustain their surge—at least, without Dwyane Wade.  They’re like a collective George Forman, and if you wait long enough, they’ll punch themselves out.
In this one, we had them on the ropes at halftime, and then we outscored them 31 to 12 in the 3rd quarter to knock them out.  Miami’s performance was so terrible it had Pat Riley swearing to God afterwards.  “Eventually you've got to shave the beard and either look younger or get somebody else in there,” Riles said in the post-game interviews, “You can't continue like this.”  Continue like what, with a beard?  I’m not even sure what this means. 
Anyway, what about our guys?  First of all, we don’t have any beards, so we’re good there.  Second, we got the turnovers down to just 8(!).  Third, Jason Richardson had 18 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists, including 4-5 3-pointers.  But the finest shooting came from Emeka Okafor, who made 7-of-9 free throws!    And if not for Manu Ginobli, Josh Childress, Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa—and, hell, probably 5 or 6 others—Matt Carroll (10 points) would be a frontrunner for 6th Man of the Year.  Jermareo Davidson had 6 points, 2 blocks, and 3 boards in just 8 minutes.  Even Primoz Brezec had 6 points.   “That’s what he does best!” one of the Miami commentators noted, after PB dropped one of those high-arcing mid-range shots of his.  Well, I don’t know about that, but it’s certainly what he does.       
Then it was on to Atlanta, where the Hawks have turned into a 6-8” high-flying forward factory.  Ironically, their extreme depth of sameness makes them a total wild card.  I don’t think they’re a great team, but because they’re so unlike any other team in the league, preparing for them is a nightmare; it’s like playing against a wishbone offense in college football.  Look at their record, because it totally bears out their inconsistency: wins against us, Dallas, and Phoenix, but losses to Detroit, New Jersey, Boston, and Washington.  
This was my first good look at Al Horford (13 points, 13 boards), and the boy is scary good already with frightening potential to one day rule the galaxy.  I think he’s the forward equivalent of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.  He’s already got natural rebounding ability, burgeoning back-down skills, and even his range is even pretty good.  Plus he gets higher than gas prices, so his blocking ability will soon rival that of teammate Josh Smith.  Strangely, Horford didn’t actually start the game; Coach Woodson came out with Zaza Pachulia.  The only theory I can come up with on that one is that Woodson was rewarding Pachulia for keeping that feathered, mid-80s haircut when so many guys are doing that horrible Scott Stapp-thing of flat, black, semi-long hair (see: David Carr, Luis Scola, that hideous UPS commercial guy, the priest from Deadwood, and that one eurotrashy vampire in 30 Days of Night (the latter three are all possibly the same guy)) 
Speaking of Smith: 15 points, 5 blocks, 3 assists, and 3 boards—all by halftime, before he got injured in the 3rd.  Early on, Primoz was “guarding” him, and it had me wondering if there could possibly be more of a disparity in athleticism?  In any sport?  In life itself?  Maybe covering Chad Johnson with Stephen Hawking, or Terrell Owens with Laura Bush.  Anyway, needless to say, it didn’t last long—Primoz got 5 minutes of point-less pointlessness.
Taking PB’s place was Ryan Hollins, who had an impressive 11 points, 2 blocks, and 6 boards in 25 minutes of burn.  He also does a hilarious Kevin Garnett scream impersonation after slams, which looks all the more ridiculous when we’re trailing by 13 with thirty seconds to play.  J-Rich had his second strong game in a row (27 points), and Gerald Wallace single-handedly brought us back in the 3rd quarter from a 15-point halftime deficit by matching Richardson for points (including 8-13 on FT’s).
After digging too deep a hole, the second half was a series of frustrating boom-bust cycles, in which we would painstakingly whittle Atlanta’s lead down to 6 or so, and then all of a sudden be trailing by 15 again in, like, 30 seconds.  Credit should go to Childress (23 points), Marvin Williams (19 points), and…oh yeah, Joe Johnson had 34 points and 10 assists.   

I’ll take the 4-4 record.  I’d say with the exception of the Philly debacle, we’ve won the games we’re supposed to, and ditto with the losses.