It's difficult to be disappointed with a game like this. The Charlotte Bobcats jumped out to a big lead on the Cleveland Cavaliers and held on through a terrifying fourth quarter for a 94-87 win in front of a full house at Time Warner Cable Arena, knocking off one of the league's true title contenders.
It's the Cats' third straight win, and probably their best win of the season. However, for every moment they looked like the frisky low playoff seed that no high seed would want to play, they had moments when they looked like 30-win also-rans. They threw the ball away. They missed a dozen field goal attempts in a row in crunch time. Hence, the vague sense of disappointment, despite a borderline dominant first half.
Perhaps it was too much to ask for the Cats to cruise after going up by more than twenty points in the third, but they sure did their best to give their fans a collective heart attack by letting Cleveland back into the game. The outcome was still in doubt until there was about :20 left in the fourth quarter. If the Cavs had five more minutes, I'm not sure the Bobcats would have been able to survive.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.
-- Holy crap, something's wrong with Boris Diaw. In 19 minutes, he had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, and 5 fouls. I'm sure no one will admit it, but his ankle and back problems are probably still major issues.
-- We're lucky Gerald's such a beast on the boards. Diaw and Tyson Chandler did almost nothing for us rebounding. Maybe Stephen Jackson should take extra interest in rebounding to help pick up the slack?
-- Gerald Wallace got the better of LeBron James. Think about that. Matched up against each other for much of the night, Crash outscored LBJ (31-25), outrebounded him (14-6), outstole him (3-0), and turned it over only 2 times to LeBron's 6. If thegame was Revolver, this was Gerald's White Album.
-- Let it be noted that Raymond Felton made a clutch defensive play with 2:12 to play in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover off Mo Williams by pushing him into a corner and then jumping out of the way of Mo's attempt to bounce it off his leg. He then got two straight long rebounds on subsequent possessions, helping kill the clock. Did he have to run down the floor and drive the lane himself, wasting a crunch time possession? Of course not. Did he have to attempt a long pull up jumper on another one? Of course not. In a minute and a half, it was everything good and bad about his game.
-- Derrick Brown didn't fill up the stat sheet, but in 20 minutes, he made few mistakes. He's not the best second rounder of this year's draft (Hello, Marcus Thornton!), but he's showing that, at the least, he can be a rotation player for years to come.
-- Nazr Mohammed's rejuvenation continues. 13 points and 6 rebounds (second on the team for the game) in 28 minutes. Is there's any chance a team like Milwaukee takes on his contract for the stretch run? Is he better than?
-- Gerald Wallace attempted 7 threes, making 3 of them (Bad Process! Good Result!). However, the rest of the team only attempted 7 threes, 4 of those by Stephen Jackson. This counts as an awesome development.
-- Speaking of Jackson, he had a relatively quiet 17-2-4, but man... did he put a licking on Anthony Parker. In 22 minutes, Parker finished with 0-4 shooting and the worst unadjusted +/- in the game. When he tried to cover Jackson, S-Jax would simply back him down, wait for a double, and kick it out for some quick passes to an open shooter. Not Parker's finest moment, but a lot of that seems to have been Jackson's doing, on both ends of the floor. Jackson was also charged with guarding LeBron for stretches in the fourth quarter when Wallace guarded Jamario Moon, so S-Jax should get at least partial credit for helping contain LBJ.
-- Welcome back, D.J. Augustin. I hope the evil alien that inhabited your body the past few weeks has been banished forever.