The Charlotte Bobcats won their fourth game in a row and their first on the road this season, crushing the Washington Wizards, 90-78. Again, Gerald Wallace led the way, and for the second night in a row, the Cats jumped out to a big double digit lead in the third quarter.
The Wizards' bench showed signs of life and briefly threatened to make a fourth quarter charge and cut the lead, but the Cats' starters came back in and put a stop to it. As explosive and, for lack of a better term, as Name Brand as Arenas and Jamison are, when they were on the floor, Washington's offense sputtered, but when guys like Dominic McGuire and Fabricio Oberto came on, the offense just seemed to flow a little better. It was a testament to efficiency over volume.
Even that lineup, though, wasn't enough to blunt the Cats' attack, as they're at full throttle now, combining great defense and adequate offense. That's a winner.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.
-- Boris Diaw's struggles continued. It was awesome that Antawn Jamison ended up with only 6 points on 2-9 shooting, but Diaw was only 3-12 from the field, himself. Without a dominant scorer, everyone has to contribute, and Diaw hasn't been carrying his weight. Whether that's due to a simple slump or due to injury, it'd be best if the Cats didn't have to overcome his offensive deficiency every night.
-- Wallace's play is All Star caliber at the moment. Should he continue this production for the next twenty games or so, he'll be a strong candidate to be a reserve forward on the East team. Usually, I don't think players have to "give up" their concentration on scoring in order to emphasize rebounding, but it certainly seems that way with Crash. Given that he wasn't the most efficient scorer to begin with, that seems like a great tradeoff. 14 points and 14 rebounds from the small forward spot, with top-notch defense, is a line we'll take any night.
-- In the last four games, Raymond Felton has attempted 7, 10, 11, and 8 field goals. He's never averaged fewer than 12 per game in any season of his career, and he's led the Cats in field goal attempts in three of his four seasons. However, recently, Felton finally seems to have accepted that he improves the team's chances of winning when he facilitates rather than finishes. I've deliberately chosen the word facilitate instead of create because the ethos is more about cutting down on mistakes than on conjuring effective offense himself. In these four games, he's turned the ball over only 1 time. This is a welcome change, and I'm glad someone convinced Felton he should be more like Chris Paul and Steve Nash, both excellent scorers, yet rarely their teams' leaders in attempts. I'll be ecstatic if he reinvents himself, mid-season, as a defense-first facilitator, because he's absolutely capable of it, and it's what probably works best with this roster: Felton and Diaw facilitating and scoring a little, Wallace, Jackson, and Murray finishing, and Wallace and Chandler cleaning up.
-- Stephen Jackson finished with 11 points on only 4-12 shooting, but, again, he had the kind of all-around game from the off guard position that makes it okay for us to have a luxury like Diaw in the front court. 6 boards and very good defense on Caron Butler.
-- Tyson Chandler actually contributed some scoring to go with his usual solid defense and rebounding. 12 points on 4-6 shooting, including a twelve foot jumper.
-- Man, I love Derrick Brown. 10 points on 4-7 shooting in more than 15 minutes.