To beat the Lakers, 117-108, in two overtimes, the Bobcats needed production from everyone who stepped on the court. Raymond Felton fought through 53 minutes, putting up 21 points on 17 shots, tied for the team lead with 11 rebounds, and dished 9 assists. More important, he helped reduce Jordan Farmar to a nonentity, and kept Derek Fisher to a merely reasonable game. The Cats again went to him at the end of regulation, and his shot clanked off the rim. With a chance at the end of the first overtime, they went to Boris, who tried to create off the dribble and had his shot blocked.
Raja Bell held Kobe scoreless in the first quarter, and even though he couldn't really contain Mr. Bean, he still made him work hard for every point. On offense, Raja got his 17 in 47 minutes, which is a touch better than he's been doing all season.
Emeka didn't rebound like he usually does, but he was contending with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, a tough assignment for anyone. In the end, he succeeded, with 18 points and 11 boards.
Boris Diaw might have had the most impressive game, doing battle with Gasol much of the night, and helping hold the seven-footer to only 10 points in nearly 42 minutes. On offense, he hit a clutch three that tied the game again with only seconds remaining in the first overtime, and though he took a lot of shots, 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists is excellent for anyone.
Gerald left in the fourth quarter after a run of the mill mugging from Bynum went horribly wrong, possibly collapsing Wallace's lung. Before that, Crash had gutted his way through back spasms to score 15 points, grab 4 rebounds, and get 2 steals. We don't know how long Wallace will be out, but no matter how long he's shut down, DJ Augustin can't come back soon enough.
This is directly for Larry Brown: Even when DJ does return, resist the temptation to start him in the backcourt with Raymond at the two and Raja at the three. Please. For the love of all that's good, don't do it. Playing your style of ball is not conducive with going small. Maybe you can get away with two point guards against smaller lineups, but three-guard lineups with normal-sized guards (i.e.: not the 6-8 Joe Johnson at the three) hardly ever work. Shannon Brown's athleticism makes him a tempting option at the three, also, but resist! The best solution probably involves rotating Diaw between the three and the four, with Morrison getting some increased minutes at the three, Howard getting increased minutes at the four, and a few minutes of Emeka at the four with Diop at the five. Consider playing zone when you go really big with that last lineup.
As for the bench, Queen City Hoops says it best:
So, the Bobcats starters (while all 5 on the court) were +15. The Bobcats won by 7. So, every lineup aside from the starters combined for -8...and that number was -15 before the overtimes (since Crash was not around for those).
At first, this might sound like I'm taking crazy pills, but hear me out: We should get Darius Miles.
He's exactly the kind of guy who would fit in perfectly on the Bobcats' bench. We need a guy to back up Gerald, so why not get someone who's the poor man's version? He fits the Juwan Howard mold of "thou art a backup, so do no harm in the locker room". He's always been reasonably productive, even this season in limited minutes. Not like a top three pick, but certainly a quality bench player. And he'd instantly become the first one off the bench to play the three, or even the four when going small. If you wanted to play the ultra-swingman lineup, you could put Boris at the nominal two, Gerald at the nominal three, and Miles at the nominal four, with near total interchangeability between them.
We have OKC's second round pick this year, received for Kyle Weaver, and it will almost certainly be in better position than our own, so why shouldn't we offer ours for Miles, if we have to? That pick represents a chance to get a player as good as Miles, and it would probably mean more to Memphis than us, so why not turn it into a useful player now that we might be able to keep around for cheap next year?
The bench, as a group, is the weakest element of the team, and thus is where we can make the most gains. Getting DJ back will help. Getting Diop into the flow of things will help. Getting Shannon Brown a few more minutes will help. Replacing Adam Morrison's minutes with Darius Miles, and reserving AmMo for sharpshooting duty, would be a huge addition.
Tonight, it's the Blazers again. We beat 'em when they were in Charlotte, but we also had Gerald to explode for 31 and 16, and Brandon Roy went 3-10 from the free throw line, and... and... and...
The Blazers are one of the best teams in the league, and Brandon Roy is a ridiculously talented player. We'll be hard-pressed to keep up with them in their house, especially the evening after a double overtime street fight.
Check out the previous tilt's recap here.
Check out the Blazersedge perspective.