(Photo Courtesy Harry E. Walker – MCT)
Welcome Back Hendo!
The Bobcats came into the Verizon Center on Wednesday night looking for redemption. On January 7th, the Wizards came to Time Warner Cable Arena and beat the Bobcats soundly 97-83. Kemba Walker had 20 points but missed a lot of shots down the stretch, and Al Jefferson was a non-factor. They were going to need everybody in this one, and that’s exactly what they got: A great team effort.
With the exception of the 2nd quarter, the Bobcats won every quarter of this game. They got their temporary redemption in a 98-85 win in Washington. There were so many positives in this game that I don't really know where to start. I guess I'll start with Kemba Walker. For all of the praise that Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall get from the NBA critics, people seem to forget that Kemba is having tremendous success this season against those three players. He is 6-1 versus them this season. That is no fluke and Kemba is impacting winning for the Bobcats on both sides of the ball. His stat line was ok tonight but he made plays down the stretch that allowed the team to get the win. From his 4 consecutive made free throws to the charge he drew on John Wall, Kemba did what was needed to win. Surely, none of his plays were SportsCenter worthy, but hey, he got the job done.
Al Jefferson played like a pissed off bulldog who was ready to eat, and eat he did. With 26 points and 10 rebounds, Al Jefferson did "The Usual" as he collected another double-double. He was very efficient tonight shooting 13-20 from the field, and abused Marcin Gortat at every chance he got. Gortat recently came out and said in an article that he wishes fighting was allowed in basketball. Well, he can go kick himself after the abuse he took from Big Al in tonight’s game.
Lastly I have to talk about a guy who I have been hard on recently. Not too long ago I put out a video on my YouTube channel declaring that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a bust. I posted it after LeBron James lit the Bobcats up for 61 points. Ever since then it seems like MKG has been on a mission to make me eat my words. Tonight he had his statistically best game of the season as he totaled 10 points and 12 rebounds, which gave him his 1st double-double of the season. That’s a very encouraging sign from the former Kentucky standout, and I look forward to more performances like these.
Tonight’s unsung hero is Cody Zeller, who had 7 points and 7 rebounds in only 17 minutes of action. Zeller has really improved in the 2nd half of the season and seems to be getting more used to the speed of the NBA game. He had a pivotal tip-in during the 4th quarter that allowed the Bobcats to continue to increase their lead. I have just really been pleased with his energy and activity these last 10 games or so.
That was a huge win for us because now we still have a chance to win the season series versus the Wizards in the 2 remaining games against them. Also, we are only 2 and a half games out of the 5th seed and you know how crucial seeding is at this point in the season. If we can avoid the Miami Heat in the 1st round, I like our chances versus anybody else in the East. Let’s just keep winning and give Charlotte something to cheer about in wake of the Carolina Panthers getting rid of Steve Smith.