Now we have to go 18-9 the rest of the way just to be in the playoffs conversation.
Even now, more than an hour after the game ended, I can't be rational about it. Normally, I assume officials' calls will wash out, but this time, I saw the Bobcats lose to the Orlando Magic, 92-80, in a horrifically officiated game that defies clear description.
Obviously, I'm on one specific side of the fence with this one, but the game was called as a bizarre series of ticky tack fouls and non-calls on rough play mixed with the occasional head scratcher of an actual call. Specifically, I despise--DESPISE--that Hedo Turkoglu is allowed to use the arm bar every freaking time he drives. Every time. Not only does he stick the arm out and push his man away as he starts his move, he sticks the arm out and pushes his man away as he's just standing there, dribbling to let clock run down. It's a damn menace and it's this kind of crap that, when applied with a whole team, leads to things like the Celtics' grabbing and hacking defense. For the other side, I had a great view of Mickael Pietrus's supposed charge over Gerald Wallace, the play on which Pietrus got hurt, and it seemed pretty clear Gerald hadn't established his position before Pietrus went flying over him.
Besides Hedo's ridiculousness, several times Dwight Howard was allowed to run and jump sideways into players cutting toward the hoop, hit them body to body, never touching the ball, and nothing was called. Anecdotally, what ends up happening when one team sets a rough tone is that even if the other team doesn't engage in the rough play, the fouls still even out, and the rougher team gets an advantage. That's exactly what we saw here. I knew the Magic were better than the Bobcats, but when Emeka Okafor plays his ass off, holding Dwight Howard to 13 points in 35 minutes, and the game is still out of reach for most of the night because I'm seeing a couple players on the other team pull crap that should have led to a 40-25 foul shot discrepancy, it hurts.
The Bobcats aren't entirely without blame, though, as they went away from their strategy in the previous game of simply leaving Okafor on an island with Howard. Just the tiny bit of help they were giving him left Orlando's shooters open, and in the first half, Rashard Lewis made them pay. Orlando went 11-34 from beyond the arc, a 32% clip. Charlotte shot just 30-80 from the field for the game, or 38%. That won't cut it.
What kills me is that it wasn't poor shot selection that led to the misses. The Cats only attempted 13 threes, and made 5, which is fine. The problem is that they shot a worse percentage on all other field goal attempts, and from my vantage point it seemed the grabbing and shoving was having an affect on Charlotte's attempts.
You know you're in for that kind of game with the Celtics. However, Orlando, the team that supposedly only has one super-physical guy in Howard and a bunch of finesse types, roughed us up.
Be good this weekend. Saturday is my big day, as I'm lucky enough to have landed a seat for Butler-Davidson, and then in the evening, the Official Girlfriend of Rufus on Fire has convinced me to attend a Charlotte Checkers game at the Cable Box. Scouting reports on Stephen Curry, Andrew Lovedale, Gordon Hayward, Matt Howard, and assorted low-level New York Rangers non-prospects forthcoming.