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Blogcat's Take, 2/14

Here’s a crazy headline for you, pulled from today’s Charlotte Observer: “FT Shooting Leads to Win.”  Before last night, I’d have lumped that with “UN Solves Crisis” as two headlines I’d be least likely to see in my lifetime.  But it’s true; we hit 22-of-28 foul shots to break a losing streak I’ve long since lost count of.  And in fact, ESPN.com posted a similarly impossible-to-believe headline of its own from last night’s OT-win over Atlanta: “McInnis Hits Hook as Cats Rally.”  Superb foul shooting?  A game-winning shot from Jeff McInnis?  I feel like I’m writing science-fiction; I ought to put this column on pulp paper and entitle it “Weird Tales” or something in wavy font.
“I went in and made my little floater,” McInnis modestly explained afterward.  Actually, McInnis has been making little floaters all year—the kind you find in toilets, so it was good to see him make a positive contribution for once.  McInnis is still about as useful as tonsils when it comes to defense, as Atlanta’s PGs proved by combining for 55 points and just 5 assists in a dribble-penetration free-for-all; and I have no idea why Earl Boykins played just 5 minutes, but hey, let McInnis have his floater.  We didn’t have Gerald Wallace, we twice came back from 14 points down, and we were trailing by 10 with just 9 minutes left, so I’m not complaining.
I’m also happy for Raymond Felton, who followed up a 29-point, 8-assist game against LA with a 22-point, 7-assist performance last night—in 52 minutes.  The guy is obviously in “kitchen-sink” mode right now trying to produce wins.  And without Wallace to distract opponents, not to mention Jason Richardson scoring just 10 and 19 over the last two games, Raymond is getting covered more than Beatles songs.  It’s not like he’s feeding off of the crowd, either.  Against LA, the crowd was pro-Kobe; against Atlanta, the crowd was pro-staying home.  Bobcats Arena was so dead last night that I could have studied for mid-terms in there.  Felton has been getting some creative assistance from Nazr Mohammed (22 and 11 vs. LA) and Emeka Okafor (20 and 21 vs. Atlanta), but that’s about it. 
Perhaps the Lakers game on Monday was a turning point.  Though we lost—and pretty handily—we at least showed some spunk against a team that’s got everything going for it, getting to within 3 with about 6 minutes to play.  I also can’t be too critical when it comes to losing to LA because—and I’m shamed to admit this—I have NO IDEA what the Triangle Offense is.  Seriously, I really don’t know.  Why do I have such a problem understanding it?  After all, it’s not like a triangle is a particularly complex shape—heck, it’s only got three sides.  But you might as well call it the “Bermuda Triangle Offense," because it’s totally mysterious to me.  Pao Gasol appears to have it down, though.  He must have been studying it during those times when most people are normally shaving and combing their hair.  His 26 boards, 6 points, and 6 assists—to go with Kobe’s 31—made us look like the Flint Tropics.         
Remember that old line from the 40s or 50s about the Yankees: “rooting for them is like rooting for US Steel”?  Rooting for the Bobcats is the exact opposite.  It’s like rooting for Charlie Brown or Ziggy.  We already dropped two to lowly Atlanta this year, for crying out loud, and they weren’t even close.  The first two times were earlier in the season, when I was naïve enough to be disappointed.  This time I fully expected a trouncing, because—as the Atlanta announcers duly noted—physically, every one of our starting 5 is on the wrong end of a complete mismatch with their starters.  But Josh Smith got into foul trouble early (eventually fouling out), as did Al Horford and Marvin Williams, to negate the size advantage.  This facilitated Okafor’s 20-20, as well as illuminated one of his more underrated skills: staying out of foul trouble while maintaining his high-caliber defense.  Next thing you know, we’d stolen an OT-win and get to go to All-Star Break on a high note.  McInnis hit his floater, we stopped their last-gasp effort, and the crowd went…back home.