For most of the evening, the crowd at Oracle Arena booed lustily whenever Stephen Jackson touched the ball. It didn't seem to bother him, and the Bobcats put on their usual game faces, an air of sheer professionalism, and took care of business, beating the Golden State Warriors 121-110.
Jackson and Gerald Wallace led all scorers with 30 points each, and even though the game was back and forth through two and a half quarters, by the end of the third, the Cats had opened a 12 point lead they would not relinquish.
If you go man by man down each roster and assess the talent level of each man individually, you might think the Warriors would be competitive with the Cats. And they probably should be. But Don Nelson is no ordinary coach. His style is a double edged sword. He's the ultimate players' coach, basically setting up a loose framework within which everyone can freelance. That frees up great one on one players to maximize what they do. However, only Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis are good to great one on one players, and other guys appear to be wasted without a more concrete team concept. Aren't Stephen Curry and (when he gets back) Anthony Morrow perfect to run off screen after screen on the perimeter? That kind of offense needs discipline and some real teaching, though, and Nelson won't do it.
Watching this game was, at times, painful, because a team of Ellis, Jackson, Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus, and Al Harrington makes sense for this style, whereas this squad would probably be better served under a coach who, you know, installs a system.
It didn't hurt the Cats, either, to face several D-League callups getting big minutes for the Warriors. As much as I respect Anthony Tolliver and Cartier Martin, they best serve NBA teams as upgrades to the end of the bench, and their presence in the Golden State rotation gave a certain inevitability to Charlotte's victory.
The Cats run the opposite of the Nelson plan. Larry Brown exerts control over most every facet of the game, which occasionally works to the team's detriment, but as he grows more trusting of his players, they're able to do more within the agreed-upon framework than they would had they been given free rein from the start. Sure, there were growing pains, and Brown could have stopped calling every play much sooner, but on balance this team is better for that overbearing presence.
Game thread comments, highlights, and lowlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
andrewlail78 -- If there is such a thing as a Point Forward (ie Larry Johnson, Anthony Mason, Boris Diaw)
Why isn’t there such a thing as a Power Guard?
maverick24 -- Maybe LB's teaching them a lesson... Don’t be a rookie.
miltonwall -- How is it that I can sit in a bar in Charlotte and watch 1970s professional wrestling on ESPN classic but I can’t watch the Bobcats game.
-- Please cut Stephen Graham and begin the D-League vetting process for an end of bench pro to push Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown for minutes and in practice. There's no purpose in holding on to him anymore.
-- All Star Gerald Wallace dropped 30 points on 16 attempts and grabbed 13 rebounds. Every game he plays, I remind myself to be grateful he's on my team.
-- Maybe Stephen Jackson was more motivated tonight than he's been in a while. Or maybe a lot of the time he was being covered by guys too small to deal with him in the post or to affect his shot. Either way, he scored 30 points on 22 atttempts, including 3-6 from three.
-- As a team, the Cats shot 10-18 from three. That's not sustainable, but the opportunity was there, thanks to the Warriors' poor team defense.
-- D.J. Augustin hit 3-5 from three, scoring 14 points total. He also dished 6 assists. For his part, Raymond Felton scored 14 and got 6 assists. Augustin looked as much like last year's version as he's looked in some time, and Felton remains the steady offensive facilitator and hounding defender most point guards don't see.