(Note: The Official Girlfriend of Rufus on Fire happened to have an important function for me to attend tonight, so I haven't watched the game yet. I'm going off the box score, just like most of you, since there was no local broadcast. If you watched the game, fill in with your thoughts in the comments.)
The Charlotte Bobcats pulled off a fourth quarter comeback in Philadelphia to beat the 76ers 106-105. After Andre Iguodala sank two free throws to put the Sixers up in the final minute, Raymond Felton's layup with 4 seconds remaining put the Cats ahead for good.
A few weeks ago, I named a few developing stories to follow with this team. Free throw shooting is still a problem, and three point shooting hasn't been as much of one, though it's still lurking just under the surface. However, the third issue, playing time for young players and roster management in general, has become a glaring problem since the Stephen Jackson trade. In this game, we can see Larry Brown still has yet to realize that even the teams that rely on a veteran core give their rookies and other young players significant playing time while attempting to win now. Of course, it's easy to argue the Bobcats aren't a title contender and are barely a playoff contender, so it's probably in our best interests to play rookies and young guys as much as political concerns will allow, so we can find out how good they really are.
In that respect, the game's a mixed bag. The winning result is good, but LB's process leaves a lot to be desired. Highlights and lowlights after the jump.BAD
-- Are we sure Ronald Murray isn't still recovering from his shin's stress reaction? His important rate stats are down across the board and he put up another 0-6 tonight. I mean, he's able to play a bit of point, but only when the matchup is absolutely right should he play more than a few minutes there.
-- Maybe D.J. Augustin's been struggling because that's what happens to young players who don't get consistent playing time and don't have the full confidence of their coaches. This is the second straight game he's been held out with a DNP-CD. What the hell? I mean, Flip is going to be streaky and is, at times, probably well worth the risk at PG if we're looking for scoring from that position because everyone else is getting shut down. However, D.J. is the guy we want out there for at least twenty minutes per game, sharing time with Raymond and easing into next year's starting role. Or maybe LB is giving up on him.
-- Seriously, LB, you can't keep giving Crash and Jax 45 minutes per game. If you're playing Game 7 of the Finals, that makes sense. If you're playing Game 19 of the Regular Season, then you're just wearing down your best players early on and hoping they don't succumb to general fatigue before clinching a playoff spot. Or, from a more cynical point of view, you're wearing down your best players early on so that when the playoffs slip out of your grasp, you can blame them for not giving good enough effort down the stretch, deflecting some attention away from your coaching and front office shortcomings.
-- I'll keep writing it because he deserves the praise: Gerald Wallace is a stone cold beast. 24 points on 9-18 shooting, and 14 rebounds. The more I think about it, I like the "Rodman with Drexler's finishing" comparison more and more.
-- Boris Diaw finally snapped out of his funk. He had a game high 28 points on 10-12 shooting, including 5-6 from three. This kind of scoring outburst is absolutely welcome, but, if I may tamp down some premature celebration, it looks a lot like a lucky night where the shots were falling. It's a good sign that, perhaps, he's turned a corner, but the most we should hope for is that he's his old self again and not this bumbling new self who doesn't score much, doesn't pass all that well, and still turns it over too much.
-- Gerald Henderson: 20 minutes! I'm agog. Those 20 minutes are good in and of themselves. More! More! Free Gerald Henderson!
-- Derrick Brown: 10 minutes! Keep doing this. 3 points and 3 rebounds is just fine for a role player. Free Derrick Brown!