With 4 games to play, all on the road, the Bobcats remain 2.5 games out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. The Detroit Pistons were idle, and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks, so Charlotte's 101-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers only inches them closer to the Pistons, who now sit in the eighth seed with 5 games to play.
Wins and losses are the results of a series of events executed with varying skill by 10 to 24 different players. Finding the skill finds the production finds the wins, more often than not. Which is a fancy way of saying the actual result of a given game is probably best described as a product of probability playing itself out, with luck and chance trying to throw everyone off the scent.
In the first half of this game, Gerald and Raymond were world beaters, but in the second half they sputtered. Wallace scored 21 in the first half and 8 in the second. Felton scored 23 in the first half and 9 in the second. The third quarter was especially rough on the Bobcats, as they went into halftime up 14 points, then promptly gave it all back with a stinkbomb of a third quarter, entering the fourth quarter down 2.
I'm not sure what the probabilities were the Cats would pull this one out without Raja and facing the Sixers without Thaddeus Young, who has an ankle issue, but this time the lucky bounce or two went to Charlotte.
In that fourth quarter, the Bobcats stepped up their defense and executed just a couple more plays than the 76ers did, helped by a bounce here or there that I probably can't remember off the top of my head, but know happened.
Raymond put together one of his career best games, scoring 32 on 12-20 shooting. Yes, he led the team in attempts again, but at least this time he was hitting his shots. While he did turn it over 5 times, he dished 5 assists and chipped in with an eminently helpful 6 rebounds.
Gerald had another huge game, putting up 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He was only 8-18 from the field, but more than made up for that by getting to the line again and again, hitting 13-17 on his free throws.
The Sixers, for their part, got great games from Lou Williams (LOVE Chris Paul and Ron Artest's love child), Willie Green, and Andre Miller, who has now torched the Cats twice and thrown up a stinker twice against them. They got killed by the total lack of offensive production from their big men. Reggie Evans went 0-3 from the field, Samuel Dalembert went 2-5, and Theo Ratliff went 0-3. They combined to go 2-6 from the free throw line, too.
But where Dalembert was a monster on the boards in his limited minutes and Evans is nimble enough to stick with Boris Diaw, Ratliff stunk up the joint. True, his stinkiness is mitigated by 4 blocks and 2 steals in 26 minutes, but Ratliff's inability to play coherent offense leads to things like, oh I don't know, a -23 by the +/- on/off court measure.
It's a little odd, feeling like I won't have any more Bobcats games at the Cable Box this season. After all, I attended all 41 home games and made it to 3 road games. I've missed watching, perhaps, 2 or 3 games on TV. When the Bobcats are a regular part of your life, forcing you to schedule other commitments around their games, it takes adjustment to get back to a non-NBA schedule.
Just in case they happen to read this, thanks to everyone who worked at Bobcats games this season. I've never had a real problem with the service and sales personnel. In fact, I think they go way above and beyond what any fan could reasonably expect. Thank you, and I would only be so lucky if it continues next season.