Bobcats vs 76ers – 04/07/2009 – Boxscore
Score: 101-98 Bobcats
Bobcats Record: 35-43 (2.5 games back of 8th)
Hollinger's Playoff Odds: 3.6% (“So, you're telling me there's a chance”)
Meritorious Player: Raymond Felton – 32 points on 20 attempts, 6 rebounds, 5 assists but also 5 turnovers – Ray scored so efficiently that we forgive the turnovers.
I thought I was having a case of deja vu. The Bobcats ran out to a big early (20 point) lead in the first half against the Sixers, just like the Heat game last Friday night. Then, they let Philly right back into, after losing the 3rd quarter 32-16 (it was the second quarter of the Miami game). The Bobcats trailed in the fourth again. But then, in the last minute, it was different: Charlotte made the plays they had to, to get the win. The Cats held Philly scoreless over the final 1:41, did not give up an offensive rebounds, and did just enough to grab the win, scoring the final 6 points. The play of the game: Gerald snaring a Felton airball and making the reverse layup to give the Bobcats the lead, and ultimately the win. Considering it was those two to helped the Cats build their huge first half lead, it was fitting that it came down to them putting the Bobcats back in front.
While I mentioned Ray's game up top, Gerald had nearly as strong a performance. Gerald scored 21 in the first half and Ray 23, as the Bobcats topped 60 in the half. At one point, Gerald had 20 points and the Sixers just 24. It was an incredible run by the Bobcats – but unfortunately, unsustainable. As the teams went to the half, my brother remarked to me that the Bobcats jump-shooting seemed much improved – Ray in particular was making everything, it seemed. I went the pessimist route (realist?) and noted that the Bobcats were likely to stick with the jumpers in the 2nd half as they had success with them (despite Larry Brown's protests, I imagine), but that they would probably cool off. They did. But they did not quit. In the fourth, the Bobcats clamped back down, surrendering only 17 points – a good thing considering their own offensive struggles, including a 3 minute scoring drought early in the fourth, and 2 of about 2 minutes each mid-way through the quarter.
Final notes: Other heroes of the game include Boris Diaw – typical Boris night with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal. Gana Diop had a big game – 5 blocks in just under 10 minutes of action, blocking nearly a third of the Sixers attempts while he was on the court (5 of 16). While someone in our section of the arena was yelling at Larry to pull the bum out, Gana was actually an outstanding defensive presence for the Bobcats last night – doing exactly what he is asked to do, defend the paint. Emeka Okafor came up just short of a double-double, with 9 points and 12 rebounds. Considering it seemed like he got the ball in the post about 4 times all game, I am surprised he got that close to double digits scoring – the hot hands from the perimeter kept the team from looking for Mek on the block (unless you think the Bobcats were purposely avoiding going at Samuel Dalembert and Theo Ratliff in the interior).
At half time (or sometime around then) a congratulatory note was posted to the scoreboard about the Tarheels championship, which got the biggest cheer of the night to that point (even bigger than a Gerald dunk in traffic early in the game – nasty dunk). Fortunately for fans of the Bobcats who do not have an allegiance to the Tarheels (like me), the Tarheels were not the only who had a victory to celebrate. Charlotte battled back and TWC Arena was rocking at the end of the game. The win gives our slim chances of having a couple more home games this season a flicker of hope.