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Blogcat's Take, 1/07

The headline in today’s Charlotte Observer read “2nd-Half Meltdown Gives Familiar Look to 7th Loss in 8 Games.”  Actually, whoever wrote that was not being entirely accurate, unless they meant the “2nd-half of the last half of the fourth quarter.”  We had a 7-point lead with three minutes to go and the ball.  As Mike once strategized in Dazed and Confused, all we had to do was "get one or two shots in there, play defense, and wait."  The Bucks didn’t have Michael Redd, neither of these teams is going anywhere, and I’m sure everyone wanted to get to the locker room to find out what happened with NFL Wild Card games.  This sucker was done! 
Instead, Okafor made an incredibly stupid foul on the lumbering-but-really-slow Andrew Bogut, who made both the field goal and the foul shot.  Then Gerald Wallace began cranking out turnovers like they were Police Academy movies.  Wallace lost the ball in just thirteen seconds for a breakaway Mo Williams layup, then did it again a minute later, and yet again a minute later.  If only he’d stopped at Turnover 4: Citizens on Patrol, but instead he continued it all the way out to Turnover 8 (Mission to Moscow?)!!  We ended up making only one more field goal in that last three minutes to complete a loss so terrible I really thought one of my apartment neighbors was going to call the cops—so pronounced was my screaming.
This latest string of collapses has something of a Wile E. Coyote feel to it.  Remember poor Wile?  He would always come up with some contraption, usually involving some sort of rocket pack.  He’d get on the thing, launch off, and there’d be an adjustment period in which he’d struggle to get control of it.  Then, once he got it down, he’d get a kind of confident look on his face, and then he would always, ALWAYS look right at the camera and sort of smile like, “hey, I think I’m finally on the right track,” and that’s EXACTLY when you knew he was about to smash right into the side of a cliff.  This is how it’s been with us during this streak of blown leads.  Whether it’s the second, third, or fourth quarter, we get off to a shaky start, and then pull even, and then take a nice lead, usually into the double-digits.  And then either us or the opponents call for a timeout, and as the telecast goes to commercial, the last thing you see is one of our guys (Hollins, McInnis, etc.), looking into the camera and sort of smiling…    
If there was any consolation to these latest two symphonies of destruction, it’s that the Nets and Bucks announcers were pleasantly vanilla.  The Bucks announcers were also of the ludicrously optimistic sort.  Early on one of them actually said something about this game being crucial for both teams’ playoff chances (ha!), and later on the other said—and this was great—“Some nights, two struggling teams can put on a great show.  This is one of those nights.”  I damned near fell out of my chair laughing at this bit of poetry, because at the time it was midway through the 4th quarter and the score was only 78-74, not to mention the Arena was so empty it was some stray dogs and barbed wire fences away from resembling a Cold War-era, East European ghetto.                 
More bittersweetness: after the loss to the Nets on Friday, I flipped over to the Hornets-Warriors game.  In sharp contrast to our finishes, you should have seen Chris Paul close this thing out.  He was Mo Rivera.  With eight minutes to go, the Hornets clinging to a six-point lead, and on the road at the deadly Oracle, CP3 just took control.  Commanding every possession, he hit two runners in a row, assisted Chandler on a FG-and-one, assisted Mo-Pete on two treys in a row, then hit two jumpers in a row, and capped it off by dropping in a layup-and-one.  Even though the Warriors answered on just about every one of their possessions, Paul had stretched the lead out to 18 at that point, with just a minute to play.  11 points, 3 assists, no turnovers, drive home safely.  I go from that to watching Jeff McInnis bringing it up for us in crucial spots last night...Jay's right: when you're used to filet mignon, it's kinda hard going back to Hamburger Helper.