Score: 101-86 Bobcats
Bobcats Record: 17-25 (2.5 games out of 8th)
Meritorious Player: Emeka Okafor. Emeka had a night that was half-Dwight Howard, half-Andrei Kirilenko, with 20 points (on 9 attempts), 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. An assist or 2 would have been nice, but that is a minor quibble. Charlotte was +23 with Okafor on the court, with a net efficiency of +31.9.
An unusual game for the Bobcats: They out-rebounded Memphis by 16 and also set a season high…in steals, both as a team and for a game. The Bobcats had 15 steals (previous season-best of 13), but Memphis nearly matched them with 14. The 29 combined steals was 6 more than any other game Bobcats game this season (and for comparison – on Monday against the Spurs, there were a total of 7).
Other interesting note: There were two players with Boris Diaw-type games, Boris himself and Gerald Wallace. Boris had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists (plus 2 steals), while Crash chipped in 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists (plus 4 steals and a block). If the Bobcats played at a quicker pace, one of them would probably already have a triple-double this season – as it is, I am not sure which I think is more likely to accomplish the feat first, but I like knowing the team has more than one player capable of it.
Quick notes on the other 2 starters: Raja Bell continued his scoring onslaught, with 25 points on 17 attempts. Of interest: Raja's points per shot number since joining the Bobcats is 1.18. Jason Richardson, with the Cats this year, 1.19. Yes, Jason scored more points per game – but only barely more efficiently – maybe we lost less (gained more?) than we expected?
And last up among the starters: Raymond Felton. Not his best game, but solid – 19 points (13 attempts), 6 assists, and 5 steals, but 6 turnovers (I told you it was not his best). He almost balanced his own turnovers with steals, so we'll call it good. Nice work, Raymond. And to the rest of the starters as well – as a group, they were +15 against the Grizzlies, making 25 of 42 from the field, and out-rebounding Memphis 22-15. Basically, the starters (on the court together) destroyed Memphis, but the bench…well, not so much.
The bench contributed just 16 points to the game, on 18 shots, 2 assists, 6 turnovers, and 11 rebounds. Quirky stat: Adam Morrison out-rebounded Juwan Howard 5 to 2 despite playing 3 fewer minutes. Gana Diop played just 3 minutes in his Bobcats debut, grabbing a single rebound, and committing 2 fouls. The defense was solid with him on the court, with a defensive efficiency of 100.0, but the offense bogged down, at a 20.0. Remember, very limited minutes, but I wanted the numbers out there, doing my part to keep expectations realistic.
With the Bobcats going 6-4 over their last 10, which has pushed them to 10-8 since Diaw and Bell joined the team, it is getting tougher to not get my hopes. There are several clubs still between the Bobcats and that last playoff spot, but…if they win the games they are supposed to (like they did tonight)…well, how about this – one game into the second half of the season, and the Bobcats have this fan intrigued.