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Blogcat's Take, 3/17


On Friday night the Bobcats entered a festival-like atmosphere in Houston.  With the Rockets poised to capture the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, the crowd was ready to party.  Even the announcers, Clyde Drexler and whoever does Houston's play-by-play, were more like red carpet fashion reporters.  They were full of kind words for the Bobcats too, because—let’s face it—Charlotte had no chance, so why not patronize them? 
Listening to them extol the coaching efforts of Sam Vincent (“he’s really done a great job developing this young team”), I thought they may have been laying it on a little thick, considering we’re on a pace to win 3 fewer games than last year, despite the importation of one of the game’s great talents (Jason Richardson) and no extensive injuries (save for Gerald Wallace, and we won 5 straight while that happened).  In fact, this team has been spectacularly mismanaged in my opinion.  Entering the season, we had two huge and long-standing weaknesses (crippling incompetence at center and backup point guard) that we didn’t address until much too late, and then we bumped everyone up 1 slot out of position to inexplicably make room for a decrepit, prime-less point guard (who—surprise!—hasn’t been picked up since we waived him).  But that’s just me.
 
Then again, these are two announcers who regularly misuse the words “commodity” (a commodity isn’t a “great product,” it’s merely a “product,” like corn and soybeans) and “literally” (I don’t care how great a player is, he doesn’t literally put a team on his back), and the play-by-play guy also can’t pronounce “Omeka” correctly (he says, “O-mee-ka”), which is somewhat insulting, considering Okafor came of age in Houston.  So I don’t know, maybe they legitimately believe Vincent has done a good job. 
 
In any case, the announcers kept their cheerfulness up throughout the affair, even though the Rockets’ victory lap temporarily stalled with a scoring drought that lasted nearly 8 full minutes.  This was something of an Epic Drought; it was like the Lord of the Rings of scoreless streaks.  I’m not even sure if we’ve done something like this (although we probably have).  The Rockets were stuck on 18 points with 4:09 to go in the first quarter all the way until the 8:27 mark of the second.  During this streak, the Rockets failed to get to the foul line, and they missed 6 three-pointers, 2 jumpers, and a layup.  The Bobcats went from trailing by six to leading 29-18.  Even after the Rockets scored, they shot just 6-for-16 the rest of the quarter to close out the half down by 7.     
 
In the third quarter, the Rockets righted the ship pretty quickly and the hometown celebration was back on.  Assuming their more familiar role of being the offensively impotent ones in any given game, the Bobcats scored merely two points in the first four minutes of the third quarter en route to just 37 total second-half points.  They never trailed by more than 14 though, causing the Houston announcers to break a record of their own for most times using the phrase, “And I’ll tell you what, this Charlotte team keeps hanging around!”  At least they didn’t say we were literally hanging around.       
 
On Sunday evening the Bobcats found themselves in Cleveland, and poor Matt Carroll found himself guarding LeBron James (just two nights after having to cover Tracy MacGrady—happy St. Patrick’s Day, Matty boy!).  Both times Carroll was in colossally over his head, matching up about as well as Jesse “The Body” Ventura did with Predator.  The King put up 33 points, 10 dimes, and 7 boards, and then shot a green laser missile that blew out Carroll’s guts in an exploding red mist—no wait, I meant, he also had two blocks on a steal while goading Carroll into 4 fouls.  Conversely, Bron-Bron had no trouble guarding Carroll—in fact, I think he had a harder time handling Gisele Bündchen for the Vogue cover shoot.  Carroll had a sparse 4 points and...that’s pretty much it, actually.   
 
This was not a fun game to watch or hear.  In the second quarter, slimy Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert came over to the announcers’ booth, causing both commentators to switch their “fake suck-up laughs” setting to “fully automatic.”  When not chortling over Gilbert’s unfunny remarks, all three spent an exorbitantly long time being outraged by DeShawn Stephenson for recently calling James “overrated.”  Sheesh, judging by their level indignation, you’d have thought Stephenson said, “If LeBron James was a white man, he would not be in this position.”  Anyway, the sycophancy shock-waves generated by the announce team were so potent they must have knocked out the scoreboard, because it wasn’t visible for most of the third quarter.    
 
Not that I really needed a scoreboard to keep track of this one.  I simply needed to count the number of times Zydrunas Ilgauskas drew Nazr Mohammed way, way out of his comfort zone to know we were losing badly.  Ilgauskas’ range (he scored 16 points, every one of which seemed to com via an 18-footer) left our interior defense reeling.  Unprepared to deal with a big who could actually shoot jumpers, Mohammed and Okafor played in a distracted state (combining to shoot just 8-of-23), while Jared Dudley looked totally demoralized (0 points, 3 fouls, and just 5 boards in 22 minutes).  Without any contributions from them or Carroll, we didn’t have enough juice to rally, although two late 3-pointers by Richardson made it look respectable.  A still-tentative Gerald Wallace (10 points, 5 assists) insisted afterward that he “take the blame for this one” afterward, so maybe that theory about him costing us the Dallas game was actually his own.





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