I'm still in shock. The Bobcats' loss to a short handed Wizards squad, 95-93, might charitably be described as a fiasco. The ending will be what sticks out about this game, a sequence of folly that snatched sure defeat from possibility's loose grip and caused me to shriek and accidentally pick Erik Bedard instead of Chone Figgins in my online fantasy baseball draft (true story).
The story begins with Washington dressing only eight guys due to injuries. No Caron Butler. No Darius Songaila. No Juan Dixon. Granted, it was in the District, but the Bobcats just had two off days. Against a wounded version of the worst team in the Eastern Conference, they should have romped.
Charlotte had a 20 point lead in the first half. Gone. Charlotte had a 41-34 rebound advantage for the game. Squandered. Charlotte doubled up Washington on free throw attempts, 30-15. Advantage nullified.
At the end, the Cats clawed to within one point when the Wizards handed them a gift chance for the tie. Needing three points, the Cats actually drove to the rim instead of launching a three, and Dominic McGuire hacked Wallace, who scored the basket. Needing only one more point for that tie, Wallace missed the free throw, and then both Okafor and Diaw had chances to put it back, but played volleyball over the hoop instead, until Jamison pulled it down and was fouled with a fraction of a second left.
There are two points of weakness for the Bobcats right now: Raja Bell's offense and Raja Bell's defense. His shoulder's got to still be hurting him seeing as he's had such awful, out of character, games since injuring it. We'll see the game flow tomorrow, but for now, suffice to say that Raymond shouldn't be defending twos, who will inevitably be much larger than he is, and Raja's having trouble doing it, which leads to things like Nick Young scoring 23 points in 25 minutes on 10-15 shooting while Raja scores 8 points on 3-12 shooting from the field. It's a double whammy.
If we're looking for positive signs, Gerald is on a monster tear right now. He may not pour in the points at a superstar level, but he's pulling down boards and is a turnover-causing machine, with blocks and steals.
This was supposed to be the last easily winnable game before a super tough stretch to end the season. The next game is Friday in Philly, then it's immediately back to Charlotte to host the Knicks on Saturday, followed by games against the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Pistons, and Sixers. That will finish off the home dates, but they'll end the season on a four game road trip against the Thunder, Bulls, Nets, and Magic, none of which are sure things. If they can win five of those games, I'll be ecstatic.
However, Chicago has a much easier schedule the rest of the way, so it's going to be a dogfight to beat them for that final playoff spot in the East. You read that correctly: A Vinny Del Negro coached team has the inside track on garnering the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
McGuire scored in this game... after 116 consecutive scoreless minutes.