Score: 80-78 Charlotte
Bobcats Record: 15-24
Meritorious Player: Raymond Felton. While several players had better net efficiencies, Raymond had a great line and hit the game winner – it does not get much bigger than that. 23 points on 15 attempts, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and only 1 turnover.
It was not a solo effort – not even the end of game where Raymond hit the go ahead basket. Nope, he had some help. Like from Emeka: With 28 seconds left, Emeka drew Rasheed Wallace's 6th and final foul…on an offensive foul without the ball (so maybe that is player control, but the point is it gave the Pistons an empty possession at a critical juncture). Bobcats ball, tie game, 28 seconds left – great, right? Well, kind of – aside from the shot clock forcing the Bobcats to give the Pistons one last chance with a few seconds to get a decent look. Or that is what we would have expected without…
Gerald Wallace's contribution to the end of game heroics. The Bobcats had dribbled the shot clock down and started playing hot potato with the ball before it wound up in Crash's in the corner. A head fake got Rip Hamilton to over-commit, and Gerald took the chance to draw the foul. Amazing – it was only the Pistons 4th of the quarter, so the Bobcats get the ball back – but with no shot clock breathing down their neck, so it was their game to win or battle out in overtime.
Which is where Raymond came in, and he nearly undid Gerald's contribution. Felton buried the jumper to put the Bobcats up 2, but had left 0.7 on the clock. Pistons call timeout and get to advance the ball to halfcourt where they ran a play that freed Iverson for 3 from the wing. Clang, ball game. Hoo-ray Bobcats. Great team effort in getting the unlikely victory, climbing back from a double digit deficit, making big plays down the stretch.
A couple of more numbers to give further credit to Gerald and Emeka, as they contributed far more than just those 2 fouls drawn. Gerald had 18 on 14 attempts, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block. His prowess on the boards helped the Bobcats to an overall advantage on the glass, 44-41, including a 10-8 edge on the offensive end. In a tight game like tonight's, winning the battle of the boards was especially important, and Gerald stepped up (Boris – looking at you).
Emeka continued to bolster his (admittedly long-) shot at an All-Star berth, outplaying Rasheed Wallace. The 2 were matched up for 23 minutes, during which time Emeka outscored Rasheed 13-11, out shot him 60% to 50%, and held his own on the glass 5 to 6 (I am not saying that Rasheed is really in the running for an All-Star spot this year – but big games against good teams like the Pistons only help Okafor's chances).
Final note: Boris had a pretty quiet game for him (at least for him since coming to Charlotte). 7 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 0 turnovers (nice to see that number). Good news: He held his counterparts to very similar numbers, 4 points, 7 rebounds, and only 3 assists. He may have struggled on offense, but he returned the favor at the defensive end.
I think that about covers it: Dramatic win on the road for the Bobcats, led by Raymond Felton, with big-time, but box-score invisible, contributions from Emeka and Gerald. That sounds pretty good to me.