Every team has their moment. The moment which gets people talking and puts people into to seats. I thought the Bobcats had their moment yesterday, only to let it fade away quicker then it happened.
Down 83-77 with slightly over two minutes to go, the Bobcats began to score. Raja Bell, who had been ice cold all night, hit two clutch baskets. The second basket came with the shot clock winding down.
Then, Raymond Felton stole the ball from Aaron Brooks and hit Boris Diaw for a layup. Bell followed an offensive rebound with a basket, and Charlotte had the lead.
Ron Artest hit a shot with 22.1 seconds remaining to put the Rockets up 87-86. Now, the Bobcats had the opportunity for their moment.
This season has been filled with overachieving moments for the Bobcats. Going into the season, Larry Brown thought they may be the worse team he has ever coached. He even said that they would be lucky to win ten games this year. But after trades that brought in guys like Diaw, Bell, and many others, there now in the thick of a playoff hunt too close to call.
Going up against Houston, no one gave Charlotte a chance. The Bobcats were going to be blown out. It was going to be one of those games where the bench sees the floor half the game. One of those games would have happened in the past, but it did not happen last night.
A few weeks ago, the Cats lost by 20 to this same Houston club. It was a horrible effort in which everyone seemed to have a bad night. The game was so bad Sean May saw the floor, and when he is on the court, you know they have played one horrible game.
Now, with 22 seconds remaining, it was the Cats time to shine.
For the past five years, the Bobcats have had one of the lowest attendance averages in the NBA. For the past five years, Charlotte has been the laughing stock of the NBA. For the past five years, busts like Adam Morrison and Sean May have haunted their franchise. For the past five years, Bobcat fans have stayed true to their pride and joy despite disappointing results.
That was the past five years, but our time is now or so we thought.
The small crowd of 16,809 was rocking. It felt more like a Lakers/Celtics game than a Bobcats/Rockets game. With 22 seconds remaining, everyone was on their feet screaming their hearts out, hoping their team could defeat one of the West's best teams.
The inbounds was perfect; everyone hustled up the court looking for that final basket. They moved the ball around, finally getting the ball to their best shooter who was at the right place at the right time.
Bell, who leads Charlotte's perimeter players with a 46.9 shooting percentage and was 5-for-6 during the fourth quarter, was open from 19 feet. This could be the moment!
As the ball went up in the air, the crowd noise grew louder. People said it felt like the Garden not the D-League game atmosphere you experience nightly at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Everyone was watching that ball; the two seconds the ball was in the air seemed like hours. It looked good from the start, but hit the front rim and went right into a Rockets' player hands.
The crowd suddenly went silent. The game and, likely, our playoff chances were lost.