You heard it here first. The Bobcats could have been NBA champs of 2009! Step aside Orlando. Give my Cats a seven-game series with those LA Fakers any day, any time and we'll see who wins. I was just musing about the Bobcats' 08-09 season, looking at the positives—franchise high 35 wins, record six-game win streak—and the negatives—not picking Lopez, lack of consistency, lack of scoring options, finishing 1-7 down the stretch, missing the playoffs again, etc., but that is not what this article is about. This article is simply giving props to the only team who went undefeated against the LA Lakers this past season. That's right, a two-game regular-season series sweep which had NBA fans everywhere twittering: "the Bobcats are for real" and "title contender to be reckoned with!" OK, so maybe these twitters don't quite capture the intended sarcasm. So how did they do it?
Well, the Lakers may have the Zen Master but my team, the Charlotte Bobcats, have Larry Brown a.k.a. Leather Man. Brown was the key because you know he has all the tools...just kidding. So let's do a quick a break-down of the two wins.
The first win, a 117-110 two-overtime thriller came at the Staples center on Jan. 27. Boris Diaw led the Bobcats with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in 48 minutes. Raymond Felton was also spectacular, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in 53 minutes.
Just for the record, no Bobcat has ever recorded a triple double in franchise history.
On the defensive end, the Bobcats held Pau in check, and he finished the night with 10 points and seven rebounds on 4-16 shooting. Jackson called it his worst night as a Laker. Interestingly, a pre-trade Shannon Brown turned out to be the hero of the night for the Bobcats, as he stepped in for an injured Gerald Wallace and scored 14 points in 22 minutes. He scored five of those in the second overtime, including the go-ahead three-pointer for the Cats with 2:14 in the game. Jackson must have taken notice, since he swooped Brown up in the Morrison-Radmonivic trade later.
The second win came on Mar. 31 in Charlotte. Charlotte won 94-84 and remained in contention to make a run at the playoffs, only two and one-half games out after the win. They'd only manage one more down the stretch. Gerald led the Cats with 23 points and 13 rebounds. The team was able to lock down on defense and hold the Lakers to 39 percent shooting.
I tried to find a common thread between the two wins, but, honestly, nothing jumped out at me. Heck, the Bobcats have won six of their past seven meetings with the Lakers; and that has been with completely different rosters and coaches, so it's probably just a fluke thing.
What did jump out, however, was the potential of this particular Bobcats roster. At first glance, the Bobcats roster seems to be missing quite a bit. No one scores over 20 a game; there are no All-Stars; in fact, the Bobcats weren't even represented in any capacity at the All-Star game. What the Bobcats do have is a "team first" oriented roster, built by Larry Brown, that showed its potential against a dominate LA team this past season. Fortunately, they traded away Jason Richardson, a player I liken to a failed version of Ko-me Bryant for the Cats.
When I think about the current team, I can't help but think about the 2004 Piston Championship team. Larry Brown took a bunch of players who were, at the time, widely underrated and shocked a star-studded Lakers team that was stacked with the likes of Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone. Brown's Pistons handled the Lakers in five games, dominating them with a stifling defense that held the Lakers under 100 points in all five games.
No, the Bobcats aren't the '04 Pistons...yet.
The Bobcats are inconsistent, but they consistently have any of their five starters stepping up on a nightly basis to lead the team in their victories. The team's chemistry should drastically improve during the offseason; and assuming that Brown keeps up the team mentality—keep Iverson away!—and they draft well, the playoffs definitely aren't out of the picture...I'm not saying, I'm just saying... beware of the Lakers Killers!