When the Bobcats acquired Stephen Jackson, pretty much everyone guessed he would raise the team's ceiling. I think it's fair to say he raises their ceiling on a game to game basis, even if it's still an open question whether or not he'll add many more wins over the course of the season. In losing to the Mavericks 98-97, the Cats still showed they can play with anyone when Jackson is on.
By that, I mean that I sense there's more variance in the Bobcats' possible results with Jax in the lineup than there was before, but being able to beat better teams with his occasional excellent games will get washed out by his occasional inefficient stinkbombs.
They didn't shut anyone down. They contained the Mavs' stars about as well as they have other teams' stars. However, this time around, the Cats' offense kicked into gear instead of stalling out, led by -- who else? -- Gerald Wallace and S-Jax. Where, at the start of the season, we figured the formula would be to shut down the other team's offense and hope our offense was adequate, now the formula is to shut down the other team's offense, trust that our offense is adequate, and hope that they put up a better than average game.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.BAD
-- Team bench production. First, it's okay that Ronald Murray got a DNP-CD, though not ideal. He probably doesn't deserve it, seeing as he's pretty much the same guy he's always been, but -- all together now -- Stephen Graham stinks. Again, he seems like exactly the kind of guy you want at the end of your bench, but he has no business playing 16 minutes in an NBA game unless there's some serious garbage time. Murray sat. Gerald Henderson sat. Derrick Brown played 3 1/2 minutes. I'm at a loss. I want answers. What, exactly, concretely, does Graham do that makes him deserving of those minutes?
-- Boris, seriously. Something's wrong, isn't it? 8 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, and 6 turnovers. Maybe it's not a bad thing that you're producing at this level, and this is just who you are. Maybe I should have been much more grateful for the exemplary team player you were last season, when you were probably playing over your head a bit. He did play the best defense possible on Dirk Nowitzki at the end of OT. Maybe Hakeem Olajuwon blocks that shot. Maybe.
-- Stephen Jackson shot 11-25 from the field, good for 28 points. In addition, he did an admirable defensive job on Jason Kidd. He may not look as "athletic" as Gerald or many other swingmen in the NBA, but he's got the footwork and tenacity to bother the best scorers in the league, big and small. Larry Brown should take more advantage of Crash 'n Jax's defensive flexibility.
-- Gerald Wallace scored 23 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. He wasn't quite as effective on the boards in the fourth quarter and OT as he usually is, but that total contribution is still awesome. Um, Larry? Are you sure you want to be running your best player for 50 minutes in a single game?
-- Tyson Chandler stayed out of foul trouble and we saw some good results, including 11 points and a few clutch rebounds late in the game Unfortunately, he didn't rebound nearly as much as he should the rest of the time, but we're taking baby steps here, people.
-- At what point can we feel confident that Raymond Felton Gets It? I've mentioned that he should be taking fewer shots, because that indicates he's doing Point Guard things instead of following the misguided notion that he's a Go-To Scorer. However, even though he took the second most shots of any Bobcat in this game (8-16, second most behind Jackson), that seemed a function of going through Plans A, B, C, and D before resorting to that Plan E, and I'm okay with that. This was certainly Good Felton, doing Point Guard things. It's a textbook case of eschewing the things that show up in the standard box score and facilitating the offense instead because it makes the team better. He wasn't much good at those box score things, anyway, so now that he's only taking the best scoring opportunities, his rate stats are all looking much better.