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Blogcat's Take, 11/12


Well, it wasn’t a sweep, but the last two games were like a fine filet mignon compared to the previous two games’ sack of White Castle.  The Cats had an impressive come-from-behind victory on Friday against the Pacers and a heartbreaking defeat to the stacked Houston Rockets on Sunday that was in many ways more impressive.
 
Emeka Okafor was huge on Friday, throwing up 25 points and 23 rebounds.  "I've been looking at other big men and what they do and watching what I do and kind of just comparing," Okafor said afterward, although it was unclear if he was referring to the game or quoting his favorite Dirk Diggler line from Boogie Nights.  However, as amazing as his stat line was, even more delightful was Gerald Wallace’s performance.  Crash’s 28 points and 4 steals sparked the 9-minute bridge between the 3rd and 4th quarters, during which our 8-point deficit became an 11-point lead.  He played like the old Wallace too, driving to the hoop and getting 15 FT attempts (making 10).  
 
For a long time though, things looked grim, particularly because the Pacers’ offense was supplied predominantly by Troy Murphy.  I know he and Shawne Williams have range, but when big guys knock down five 3-pointers and a slew of 15-20-footers, it just feels more demoralizing.  Add that to Jeff Foster’s 12 rebounds, all of which seemed to a) come on offense, and :cool: happen in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and I was looking forward to Quarter 4 about as much as the movie Saw 4. 
 
Further, Raymond Felton was a bit gimpy on the bad knee and Jason Richardson (5 points, 2 turnovers) has gone MIA.  (Say what you will about Adam Morrison, but at least you knew when he was out there.  Morrison was the crazy homeless guy who drops his drawers and pees right in the center of town square, while Richardson thus far has quietly been taking a dump in the corner.)  But anyway, the team rallied, thanks to some timely 3’s by Matt Carroll, a huge 52-39 rebounding advantage, and “just” 16 turnovers, which for us qualifies as “flawless.”   
 
On Sunday, we owned the game for about 46 minutes.  For the second straight game the Bobcats excelled in free throws (14/15), turnovers (just 12!), and Matt Carrolls (6-10 FGs, 3-4 3PTs, 17 points).  Even Richardson was electric for the first two quarters (14 points), although he was Amish the rest of the way (2 points).  Okafor also showed some serious Swan Lake moves early on (12 PTS-11 REB-2 BLK on some stellar ballet down low), but got into the old familiar foul trouble that ultimately hurt us.  With an extremely balanced attack (four guys in double-figures), the Cats led by as many as 10.  Houston’s Luther Head, Mike James, and Stab-to-my-Lou Rafer Alson were also doing their best to help us out, going a combined 4-for-15 from the field with 6 total assists (and Steve Francis can’t crack this lineup??). 
 
But none of that mattered, because Yao Ming simply would not be denied.  With 34 points, 8 boards, 3 blocks, and even 4 assists, we were no match for his powers.  Yao missed just 2 of his 15 FG attempts and made all 8 of his free throws in a devastating one-man attack.  Fittingly, he snagged the last key rebound of the game when he hauled in Alston’s idiotic 3-point attempt with 38-seconds to go, got fouled, and sank both shots to give the Rockets a 1-point lead.  Wallace was called for a ridiculous offensive foul when he subsequently drove to the basket on Tracy McGrady, effectively ending the game. 
T-Mac, everyone’s favorite existentialist superstar, got the results when it mattered most, scoring 12 of Houston’s final 16 points.   "I don't think there's a better 1-2 combination ... they might be the best combination since MJ [Michael Jordan] and [Scottie] Pippen," a glum Wallace observed afterward (note to reporters: is it really necessary to clarify who Wallace meant by “MJ” and “Pippen”?).





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