Near the end of the third quarter, as Jamal Crawford sank another three with Raymond's hand in his face (not jumping, just a hand outstretched and in his face), I looked up and saw that Crawford had put up the quietest 35-point three quarters I'd ever seen. I mean, somehow, it simply didn't occur to me until that moment that Crawford was going nova ($1, HP
And so went a home loss to the Warriors, 110-103
. Crawford ended up with 50, thanks to 17-18 from the line and 5-8 from long distance. It wasn't the prettiest display, seeing as he was 14-26 (26 attempts!) overall, but the Bobcats simply couldn't overcome the free throw disparity, couldn't overcome Emeka's and Raymond's poor field goal shooting--6-13 and 6-19, respectively.
However, one day after trumpeting Emeka's All Star credentials, I still maintain he had a good game. Not a great one, but a good one, because he held Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf in check on the offensive end. Biedrins finished below his season averages in both points and rebounds, and stayed in foul trouble for most of the game. His fourth foul came when Emeka took a charge in the post. Turiaf played a few overlapping minutes with Biedrins, so Emeka couldn't guard him, then, but he finished below his season averages for points and a little ahead on rebounds, in 24 minutes. On offense, Emeka's still showing marked improvement in going hard to the rim and dunking with authority instead of laying the ball through the hoop, but in this game, nothing was working away from the basket
. Even as Bad Emeka, with missed shots from ten feet out and further, and 4 turnovers, he was a valuable part of keeping the game close, with 13 rebounds and 3 blocks.
On the flip side of that, Raja Bell finally found his shooting stroke, hitting 5-7 from beyond the arc, and totaling 21 points, but his defense, again, was lacking. Thus far, he's played exactly one very good defensive game for the Bobcats, and that was against the Grizzlies. For a guy whose value is supposedly tied up in defense, his performances have been extremely discouraging. We know Augustin is bad on defense, and Felton is somewhere around competent, but Raja's not adding anything to the mix, as evidenced by Crawford, Belinelli, and Watson turning the ball over only twice the whole game and, as a group, torching the Bobcats' guards. For what it's worth, Larry Brown isn't helping matters by playing Raja and Carroll at the three with the double point guards out there, but Brown's been pulling that crap all year. What's changed in the back court is Raja, and yet, nothing has changed.