The Charlotte Bobcats looked like they were dead in the water, not only tired from the previous night's game, but demoralized. The Oklahoma City Thunder smoked them in the first quarter and for most of the second quarter. But then, the tide shifted. Rapidly.
The Cats stormed back with a run to close out the first half that energized the crowd. From the start of the second half until the end of the game, Charlotte first chipped away at OKC's lead, then slowly pulled away, led by Stephen Jackson and Raymond Felton.
Without Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats have now defeated the Orlando Magic and OKC Thunder, but have also lost to the lowly Indiana Pacers. While Wallace is their pillar, their best and most-worked player, and it was expected they'd miss him dearly, they've been able to survive on an upswing from Jackson, starting-quality production from the bench, and the best three game stretch of Stephen Graham's life.
That puts the Bobcats' record at 35-32. As of this writing, the Dallas Mavericks are thumping the Chicago Bulls late in the third quarter of their game. It hasn't been pretty. More and more, as the Bulls fade from the scorching schedule and the added burden of untimely injuries, it looks like the Cats are going to lock up a playoff spot sooner rather than later.
Game thread comments, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
WhatAboutBob_cats -- Careless passes. What really makes doves cry.
Ourdaywillcome -- After the first quarter I thought we’d be tossing this one by 30 or more. I have no explanations.
-- Is it possible that Theo Ratliff doesn't understand what kind of baller he is? Dude was 3-9 shooting in 20 minutes. On a team that plays as slowly as the Bobcats do, they can't afford to distribute so many shots to the -- how should I put this? -- less premium offensive talents on the squad.
-- Tyrus Thomas came off the bench, played only 21 minutes, and took far too many shots in that time (4-11 from the field), especially the mid-range jumpers. Don't do that, Ty. Take it. To. The goal. Otherwise, he was fantastic, pulling down a team-high 9 boards and contributing 2 blocks to the Cats' collective block party. Charlotte ended up with 12 blocks total.
-- I was ready to write off Stephen Jackson late in the first quarter. He looked frustrated for the second night in a row, turning it over a couple times, and he'd only scored 1 point. However, second half minutes are more valuable than first half minutes, and he stepped up big after intermission, ending the game with 20 points on 15 attempts, with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
-- All I've asked of Raymond Felton over the months and years, as a fan, is that he exhaust all other options before he decides that he has to try to be the offense himself. Tonight, he did just that in the first half, waiting until everyone else had taken their cracks at shouldering the offensive load, and when they failed, he stepped in to the void. Felton started all over in the second half and spread the ball around more, ending the game with 17 points on 7-10 shooting, 7 assists, and no turnovers.
-- Stephen Graham scored 19 points again, tying the career high he first attained... last night. He did it on a remarkably efficient 7-9 shooting and added 5 rebounds. That's great. It helps, especially with Gerald out. All I want you to remember, though, is that if he was really this good a player, if this is his true talent level, he wouldn't have washed out with four different clubs before catching on with a thoroughly uninspiring Pacers team that barely played him, anyway, his first year there. Recently, Graham's given us a run of excellent play. That doesn't change that he shouldn't have been getting 600 minutes of playing time this year instead of our lottery pick and our steal of a second rounder.