There's so much to cover from this game. When Stephen Jackson was ejected early in the first quarter, the Bobcats were left with some unappetizing options for filling his rotation spot. Shaun Livingston ended up playing more minutes than usual, many of them alongside D.J. Augustin in a double point guard lineup, but Dominic McGuire ended up playing more minutes than any other reserve, and had, probably, the best game of his career.
At the end of the game, Gerald Wallace hit the floor hard when fouled at the rim, and got to his feet clutching his left elbow and doubled over in pain. We'll find out soon enough what the injury is, exactly. Until then, it's not really worth speculating. What is worth discussing is how much an absence might hurt the Cats. Hint: a lot.
Game thread comment, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENT
Ft.Mill Bobcat -- Boris refuses to impress in back to back games out of principle.
-- Gerald Wallace's injury, if serious, will sink this team. He's the Bobcats' best player, and even though Derrick Brown is an intriguing young player, the harsh reality is that he's an intriguing young player as long as he's relegated to a bench role. If Brown, or Dominic McGuire, takes over the starting small forward spot, or Stephen Jackson slides over so that Shaun Livingston, Matt Carroll, or Gerald Henderson (yeah, right...) takes over the starting guard spot, the Cats' starting lineup suddenly looks like one of the very worst in the league. To answer a question from an earlier thread: yes, if Gerald Wallace is out for any extended period of time, the Cats will suck.
-- As will be noted below, Dominic McGuire played very well. However, it was at the expense of Derrick Brown. Per 36 minutes, for his career, McGuire is averaging 5.7 points and 7.6 rebounds, which is actually a little generous to him, because this season, before this game, he was averaging 3.4 points (per 36 minutes!!!) and 8.4 rebounds. Playing mostly as a wing, Brown's career numbers, per 36, and in about 1/5 the minutes, are 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds. Except that this year, he's going for 12.4 points and 6.1 boards, and shooting a preposterous 63% from the field. Brown got 5:34 tonight. Unless he's truly too hurt to play, it's a travesty that McGuire got the opportunity to play over Brown, who is two years younger and already demonstrably better.
-- Nazr Mohammed is struggling, which shouldn't surprise us, but it's disappointing because he was such an offensive surprise last year. Without an effective Mohammed, the current center situation is a full blown debacle (Kwame Brown's improbable 5-6 from the free throw line tonight, notwithstanding). Of course, LB could commit to playing Boris Diaw alongside Tyrus Thomas, putting his best players on the floor for as many minutes as possible. But why would any coach want to do that?
-- Andrew Bogut, Corey Maggette, Carlos Delfino, and Drew Gooden were all out of this game with various ailments, and the Cats still couldn't knock off the Bucks. It's depressing.
-- D.J. Augustin went crazy on offense, scoring 26 points on 15 attempts, plus 6 assists and 3 rebounds. That's muted a bit because his defense still isn't where it needs to be, but I'll take that kind of offense any day.
-- Dominic McGuire had a career night, with 13 points on 6 attempts, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks, all in 31 minutes. It was the ceiling performance a guy with his skill set, and it helped keep the Cats in the game. However, in the end, I'm worried that this is going to encourage Larry Brown to play McGuire more at the expense of players who have proven they are better right now than McGuire is in just about every way (see: Derrick Brown). Just for reference, McGuire's previous career-best game was a 14 point, 14 rebound effort in February 2009. And to hammer the point home, Jeff McInnis had 17 points and 9 assists, and Matt Carroll had 22 points, in a January 2007 game. And Adam Morrison had 30 points and 6 rebounds in a December 2006 game.
-- Shaun Livingston has quietly put together a solid comeback season. Sure, he played a little bit last year, but he played in fewer than half the possible games. Now, he's an unquestioned rotation player for the Cats, and even though his per-minute averages aren't yet up to their pre-injury levels, his combination of good-looking defense and passable offense have made for a pleasant surprise. Tonight, he scored 16 points on 6 attempts, coming off the bench for 28 minutes.