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Recap: Bobcats 110 Cavaliers 93 – Thanks for coming, Tyrus!

Posted by Sup on February 20, 2010

Boxscore Recap

The defeat at the hands of the Nets was a bit much for me. I started writing up the recap, but I was so disgusted by the effort, I just gave up on it. The team looked flat, uninspired and if not hopeless, at least helpless.

Then came the NBA trading deadline. The big move of bringing in Tyrus Thomas from the Bulls and the smaller move to bring in Theo Ratliff from the Spurs barely ranked on the radar of major sports outlets. There was certainly none of the minute analysis afforded the New York Knicks acquiring Tracy McGrady and his expiring contract. But the moves filled needs: a backup power forward and a 10-12 minutes a night center while Nazr Mohammed gingerly moves through back spasms, Tyson Chandler is idled again by his balky lower extremities, and Gana Diop is shelved with a knee injury.

And oh, how they paid off this night.

Granted, the Cavaliers were coming off a difficult loss at Denver. LeBron James put up a majestic 43 point 12 rebound 15 assist triple double before getting burned by Carmelo Anthony for the final shot, and was probably gassed himself. Plus, the Cavs were working their own new acquisition into the rotation, Antawn Jamison. There are available and plausible excuses for this particular outcome.

I don’t think the Bobcats really care.

Stephen Jackson put up his traditional 20+ point night (29 on 9-17 from the field and 8 rebounds), Gerald Wallace  played the all around game (17 points, 8 rebounds), and Boris Diaw was a mobile dangerous presence (18 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists). But this night belonged to the newcomer Tyrus Thomas, and even to a lesser extent Ratliff.

Thomas used his 25 minutes off the bench to record 9 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. He completely dominated the middle defensively, rejecting layups, jumpshots, whatever the Cavs could bring. He dove out of bounds to save at least 3 balls, though they didn’t end up going Charlotte’s way on at least two of them. He was energy given a human shape. And in his 18 minutes, Ratliff didn’t score, but he grabbed 5 rebounds and rejected to shots.

Without any proven way to score in the paint, and suddenly lacking Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ 18 footer, the Cavs relied heavily on the 3. They attempted 29 threes, making 12 of them. The key: most of the makes were in the first half. When the second half rolled around, the tired legs from the traveling and active hands from the Bobcats took the three pointers away, and the Cavs dug themselves a 14 point hole in the third period they would never be able to close.

The most spectacular play of the night was not by Thomas, but by Raymond Felton and Wallace. As James was attempting to get set up in the offense at the 6:35 mark in the third, Felton skipped around him and tipped the ball free along the sideline, tossing it high to Wallace near the half court line. Wallace returned the pass, then went up high for the alley oop dunk over Mo Williams, courtesy of Felton.

Plays like this and all the hustle plays by the ‘Cats made this one a laugher, as they went up by as many as 18 points in the fourth. Jamison, the big trade catch of the Cavaliers, went 0-12 in his debut (thanks for that fantasy trade, Gene…’preciate it. Man I suck.) and scored all of two points from the free throw line.

Even the normally dour Larry Brown was laughing and smiling in his postgame gaggle, which I don’t remember happening in the last month or so. And what could he complain about? They didn’t force nearly as many turnovers as they would like (9), turned the ball over themselves too much (14). But after a month of shaky performances, a coach can relax after beating up the Easter Conference leaders.

Thomas was playing on energy and hustle; he himself said the playbook went out the window once he got on the court. And though that sounds charming for a successful first night, he’s going to have to buckle down and get into the offense in the next few weeks. Really, though, we could not have hoped for a better debut.

‘Cat of the Night – Tyrus Thomas blasts into Charlotte with a near double double and changes the face of their defense with 6 blocks, including a lefty block that resulted in him getting jaw jacked by Anderson Varejao.

Stat of the Night – -2. That was King James’ plus/minus at the end of the game. The Bobcats thoroughly dominated the second half, and James’ numbers reflect that.

Notable Notables

  • The Bobcats and the Nuggets are the only two teams in the league to take a season series from the Cavaliers.
  • D.J. Augustin looked like he was a free man. He scored his 12 points from close in, mid range (a great drive to the basket when he spun back out, driving Shaquille O’Neill under the basket and nailing a 17 foot jumper) and from distance, with a buzzer beating 3 at the end of the third.
  • Jamison came off the bench and never looked comfortable. The shots he missed were shots he clearly can make, but he had been struggling over the last few games with the Wizards anyway. He has only scored in double figures twice in the month of February.
  • It is possible to overvalue what Thomas and Ratliff did last night. But it is undeniable that the energy they played with made this team look like the one that ripped off the long home winning streak in December and January. Now if that energy can generate more turnovers for their opponents, the Bobcats are well on their way.

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