Score: 117-110 Bobcats (2 OT)
Bobcats Record: 19-26 (1.5 games out of 8th)
Meritorious Player: Raymond Felton. Ray nearly became the first Bobcat with a triple-double, falling an assist shy. Final line: 21 points (17 attempts), 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 block and just 2 turnovers in 53 minutes of action.
It was the best of times, it was the worst times…and then it was the best of times again.
Bobcats up 9 in the 4th.
The Bobcats retaking a 7 point lead after letting the Lakers back into it.
Charlotte misses 7 of 8 free throws in the 4th.
Gerald Wallace leaves the game with a possible fractured rib/punctured lung combo.
On the same possession Crash left, Charlotte misses both free throws for the flagrant foul (Andrew Bynum), then misses 2 more on the resulting play.
Charlotte falls behind by 6 in the first overtime.
The Best Again:
Charlotte storms back, sends it to a second overtime (as Kobe fouls out).
Charlotte controls the second OT, wins by 7.
I nearly gave up on this game, when the Cats fell behind in overtime. I was doing some deep breathing, trying to tell myself that it was just a game and nothing to be upset over (it did not work) – and while I was doing that, the Bobcats were on their way back. I had no such qualms about it being just a game when I was celebrating the win (though I had to keep it quiet with the Queen already in bed). Fortunately for me/them, the Bobcats were not as defeatist as I. These are not the same Bobcats that used to get leads on good teams, only to lose when the opponent finally decided to play. They did not get down about their free throw struggles, but battled back in the face of adversity and got a big win on the road.
How did they get the win? The starters, of course, were huge. Ray – see above. Boris Diaw joined Raymond in the near triple-double club, with 23 points (though he took 24 shots to get there), 9 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals. Emeka had a double-double with 18, 11, plus 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Raja chipped in with 17 points, plus some really solid defense on Kobe (I know Kobe finished with 38 – but Raja was making him take contested jumpers, and Kobe was feeling it). Crash had 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in his relatively limited minutes, though he was limited after a big first quarter by back spams before Bynum finished the job. The best part: The Bobcats starters beat LA…wait for it…by 54-39. Yes, you read that right 54-39.
So, the Bobcats starters (while all 5 on the court) were +15. The Bobcats won by 7. So, every lineup aside from the starters combined for -8…and that number was -15 before the overtimes (since Crash was not around for those). The Bobcats got solid contributions from 2 bench players: Gana Diop had 4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in just 11 and a half minutes. But the real key was Shannon Brown. He was the man Larry Brown trusted to replace Crash and that faith was rewarded. Shannon had 2 highlight dunks off of feeds from Raymond and a big 3 in the 2nd OT that gave Charlotte the lead. Brown finished the game with 14 points (11 attempts), 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 22 minutes. Just enough from the bench to get it done, but with Ray playing 53 minutes, it was another reminder that D.J. is sorely missed.
All in all, I probably would have preferred the Bobcats made a couple more free throws in the 4th quarter and the game never made it to overtime, as that would have left them better rested for the rest of the road trip. But I cannot complain with the outcome or the way they got there. The Bobcats served notice that they are not the same old Cats and I am good with that.