-Adam Morrison checked into the game with 7:42 left in the first quarter after Coach Larry Brown instructed him to report to the scorer’s table at nine minute mark, but there wasn’t a stoppage of play until 1:42 later. The same thing happened at the 8:43 mark of the third quarter. When Coach Brown was asked why he took Wallace out so quickly, he said, “I didn’t feel like he gave out any energy. I didn’t think he was running. I think when Adam came in, he gave us lots of energy, and I didn’t see any reason to take him out.” Morrison finished with 11 points. Wallace did not attempt a shot from the field, or a free throw, but he did have five rebounds.
-The stat sheet will show that Bobcats’ guard Raymond Felton had nine points, 11 assists and six turnovers, but his impact went much deeper than that. In the first half, he applied full court pressure to Wizards’ point guards Mike James and Javaris Crittenton and made it difficult for them to get in their offense. In the third quarter, he sustained a serious ankle injury, and he was carried off the court by his teammates and whisked away to the locker room. Just four minutes later, he came back out to the floor, and took his team from being down 12 to only being down one point. As Felton limped around the locker room after the game, Bobcats forward Juwan Howard implored him to tape the ankle because it was going to hurt in the morning. Felton shot backed, “Man, it hurts like hell right now.”
-Wizards center JaVale McGee’s playing time had been severely diminished in the past month or so, and Coach Tapscott had blamed it on bad matchups, McGee’s poor shot selection, and just the growing pains of being a rookie in the NBA. Because this was the latter half of a back-to-back, McGee got more playing time, and he definitely made the most of it. Towards the end of the first quarter he grabbed a rebound, lost it, then regained control, took three dribbles, brought the ball down by his hip, and slammed in a demonstrative dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. That dunk alone earned McGee 10 more minutes of playing time in the second quarter, and you could see his confidence growing more and more. Although he did not play as much in the second half, McGee finished with nine points and four rebounds.
-Juwan Howard still gets booed in Washington despite it being nearly 10 years since he’s played in a Wizards uniform. When Howard played for the Wizards, he signed a seven-year, $105 million dollar contract, and it was widely believed in the DC area that he did not deserve that money. Much like the way the Raptors fans need to get over the loss of Vince Carter and stop booing, the Wizards fans need to do the same with Howard. When I asked Howard if the booing bothered him at all, he looked at me, laughed, and said, “Man, I’m from Chicago, Illinois; of course, it doesn’t bother me.” I also asked Howard what Coach Brown expected from him, and he said, “He wants me to be a vocal leader and show these young guys how to compete on a day-to-day basis.”
-Prior to the game , Coach Tapscott was asked if he’d alter Nick Young’s minutes at all given that he had scored 28 points on 80% shooting. Tapscott said that Young would not be inserted into the starting lineup, but that he’d ride his hot hand for as long as he could. Young shot 6-of-9 against the Bobcats and scored 12 points. And when the Wizards were down by one point with 20 seconds left, Coach Tapcott called a timeout and drew up an isolation play for Young. Although Young missed the shot that would’ve given the Wizards the lead, it is quite a big step for Young to be given that responsibility over Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.
-Boris Diaw and Raja Bell, who the Bobcats acquired from Phoenix on December 10th, paid big dividends this evening. Diaw scored 18 points and showed the full repertoire by scoring in the post, from mid-range and beyond the three point line. He also scored eight points in the fourth quarter when the Bobcats played their best basketball. Bell only shot 7-of-17 from the field, but he kept the Bobcats in the game through the first three quarters.
-Prior to the game when asked about the teams 0-6 record in the second of back-to-back games, Coach Tapscott said that his team had a walk through before the game, and they focused on rebounding, defense and playing efficiently on offense. Tonight the Wizards outrebounded the Bobcats 32-29, held the Bobcats to just 92 points and shot 52% from the field, and they still lost the game. This has to be especially frustrating for Tapscott. After being relatively passive since taking over for Eddie Jordan, he got ejected last night against the Bulls, and tonight he could be seen yelling at both his players and the referees.
– After the game, when Coach Brown was asked whether this was a good win, he emphatically responded that this was a great win for the team. He said that given that Felton and Augustin were banged up, and that his veterans Howard (12 points) and Bell (19 points) gave him solid efforts in the second of back-to-back games, he considered this win to be the biggest of the season for the Bobcats.
– Coach Brown also said that he sympathized with the Wizards’ injury problems this year. He said that their best perimeter defensive player was out (Stevenson), their starting center was gone (Haywood), and one of the top 10 players in the NBA was also out (Arenas), yet they manage to play hard and be competitive every night. I’ve heard this sentiment from many opposing coaches during this season, but they all are quick to point out that injuries happen to every team and it’s part of the game.
Bobcats 92 – Wizards 89
Photo Credit: Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos