Road Trip to Philly and DC

In theory, the two games the Bobcats just played on the road, back to back, were among the most winnable road games of the season. The Philadelphia 76ers have struggled, even when they had the now-injured Elton Brand in the lineup, and the Washington Wizards are among the worst teams in the league.

So, of course, the Bobcats played both games close, and split them. In the Sixers game, which they lost, 93-87, Emeka Okafor dominated with 24 points and 11 rebounds. However, it wasn't enough to overcome Andre Miller and his 22 points. All the guards, from Felton to Augustin to Carroll to Bell, had trouble on defense, and they got torched again and again.

More disturbing, Gerald Wallace only scored 6 points to go with 6 rebounds. Something just wasn't right with him. I tend to chat with other fans around me, and they just sat there in befuddlement as I gnashed my teeth and rent my hair over Wallace's ineffectiveness, then tried to explain that on any given night he's the Bobcat's best or second-best player.

It got worse for Crash the next night in Washington, DC. The Cats pulled out a final-possession victory, 92-89, but Wallace scored 0 points and pulled down only 5 rebounds. His offensive game went to hell completely and he ended up playing only 20 minutes. That was on top of a point guard situation that went from sketchy to dangerous, as Augustin left with an abdominal injury, and then Felton sprained his ankle, so it was an ideal time for Wallace to jump in and take over. However, Larry Brown apparently decided that Wallace wasn't showing enough energy--Gerald Wallace!--and benched him. Thankfully, Adam Morrison had a solid game in Wallace's stead, Raja Bell gunned with no conscience, and Boris Diaw continued his improbable renaissance, but this leads to a larger point:

Benching Gerald Wallace for lack of hustle is plain foolish. Wallace has never lacked hustle, is a consummate good guy, and is the team captain. Unless it comes out that there was some kind of confrontation, I'm utterly baffled as to why Brown would decide to discipline one of his two best players like that. Hey Larry! Maybe, just maybe, it's because he played his heart out against Paul Pierce and the Celtics, then had to try to guard LeBron the next night, then had one day off before you played him 40 minutes in Philly, and then the next night, he just didn't have his usual jets? Everyone was tired, and Gerald's not the best jump shooter out there, so he's going to exhibit the effects of fatigue in a more pronounced way.

So, what do we take from the road trip?

-- Adam Morrison is gunning again, which is a good thing. He needs to play with the same attitude he had at Gonzaga. Maybe he recognizes he's got better teammates, but when he's in attack mode, he's useful off the bench.

-- I still love Lou Williams, but not as much as I love DeShawn Stevenson or Delonte West. Williams is probably third on my list of defensive guards who could start at point but don't for whatever reason.

-- Jim's Cheesesteak: yummy. Ralph's Italian restaurant: yummy. The cafeteria under the Capitol building: $3.25 for a bottle of Vitamin Water. Proof, an Asian fusion restaurant across the street from the Verizon Center: yummy.

-- Say what you will about the product on the court, the Bobcats know how to properly present an NBA game. Relatively few BS bells and whistles. Pat the PA guy isn't an actor trying to sound disappointed when an opponent scores and on crack when the home team scores. My dad once described the job of being an NBA PA announcer as a most bipolar experience, and the Philly and DC guys embody that.

-- The Official GF of Rufus on Fire couldn't stop parroting Wayne's World as we drove through Wilmington: "Hi, I'm in Delaware. Yeah, Delaware. Cool. Dude. Delaware."

-- The concierge at our hotel in downtown Philadelphia, as we walked in: "Hello, if you need anything, just ask me. My name is Charles, and I'm in charge." High comedy.

-- Augustin's series of injuries is troubling. If they do anything to his quickness, then he's suddenly a very expendable bench player, since he can't really defend to begin with, and most of his offensive game is based on creating space with speed.

===

Both cities were a blast. Obviously, I wish we could have spent more time up north, but, you know, jobs and such.

The Bobcats are off the next couple days before visiting Detroit (fun times!), and then they finally get back for a stretch of home games, starting with the Blazers on Saturday night.

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