No sooner do Bobcats fans begin to prepare for the return of Gerald Henderson this weekend than we have to weather the news that Tyrus Thomas is out once again. Just as T-Time was showing impressive resurgence and looking like his old self, he tore his calf muscle against the Grizzlies last Saturday. It won't require surgery, but it could be at least 8 weeks before he'll be ready to step back on the court. Tyrus, I won't lie. I've been one of your more outspoken critics. But you've been truly impressive this season and I sincerely wish and pray for your speedy recovery. Meanwhile, if you missed tonight's game, you missed a classic. Details are but a click away.
Kemba Walker took charge early on for the Bobcats and for a short time it looked like the Cats were going to make a romp of things. In what seemed like no time at all the Bucks were looking at the wrong end of an 18-12 start. But Milwaukee has earned a fast reputation for scoring points in bunches this season and it didn't take long for them to come battling back. As their second string took the court the momentum seemed to tip the other way. The Cats were suddenly unable to build much on their quick start and although the held a solid lead as the quarter ended, you could sense that the Bucks were not going to lie down and hand the game over without a fight. The first quarter ended with Charlotte on top 30-23.
Early in the second the Bobcats lead continued to slowly slip away despite solid work by Mullens in the offensive post. Finally, the Bucks powered their way to a tie score and forcing Coach Dunlap to call for a quick prayer meeting on the sideline. It's seldom a good sign for a team that fails to score after a time out and this was no exception. Mullen got a shot blocked while the ball still seemed to be in the area of his hips and the Bucks retook the lead with a quick transition bucket. Although the starters for Charlotte seemed able to handle the best of the Bucks, the Milwaukee bench was able to out-hustle and outscore the Cats 2nd team handily. Jeffery Taylor's pride eventually had enough of that action and he exploded for a soaring two-handed and momentum-changing dunk to bring the Bobcats back into a tie at 44 each with 3 minutes left before the break. What promised to be an interesting match quickly became a war between two young, hot teams. Neither squad was willing to give an inch. It was some of the most exciting basketball played in Time Warner since the ushers unlocked the front doors for the first time. As the buzzer sounded to end the half Brendan Haywood drained one from the corner to give the Cats a slim halftime lead, 55-54.
The third quarter began with the Bobcats looking as if they couldn't wait for the halftime break to end. They come out hustling and built up a quick six point lead only to see the Bucks come roaring back with some thunderous play of their own. Once again, neither team was willing to give an inch. Every shot was contested and burst of speed was met with an equal burst at the other end. It seemed as if the first team to hit a cold streak would risk being run out of the building. As the seconds ticked down the Cats began to struggle. Fortunately, they were up by a small handful at that point and despite a frosty last three minutes, Milwaukee had only managed to scrape together a small lead going into the fourth with Charlotte trailing 77-81.
During the early going in the final frame the Bobcats took full advantage of their new size by dominating the offensive boards in successive possessions but despite ferocious efforts by Bismack Biyombo and Byron Mullens, none of the hometown heroes managed to find a way to sink a shot and the Carolina Ice Age continued. Milwaukee built their lead up to eight points and you could almost see the flames leaping off of Monta Ellis's fingers each time he launched a shot. Before the first five minutes managed to tick off the clock the Cats had learned the hard way that when your total offense consists of a pair of free throws and seven empty possessions you're going to be in a deep hole in the NBA. First the crowd got taken out of the game. Then Monta Ellis and the other Bucks began to shoot the lights out. The Bobcats finally dropped their first field goal of the quarter into the basket with just over six minutes left in the game and cutting the lead back into single digits. To Milwaukee's credit, much of the cold snap the Cats faced was the result of some impressive defense, but by the time Charlotte began to regain some offensive flow the clock was quickly creeping into desperation territory. It was at that moment that Kemba Walker did some all-star level pick pocketing. He stole the ball, raced upcourt, and at the last second dished off to a streaking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the two-fisted jam. Suddenly, the lead was down to a slender three points. One empty Bucks possession later and Ramon Sessions tied the game up with a wide-open trey. All of a sudden it was Milwaukee that couldn't find the hole and the felines had clawed their way to an 18-4 run. The joint, as they say, was jumpin' and the Bucks looked a lot like... I can't help myself... deer in the headlights. With 4 seconds remaining, Ramon Sessions tossed in a pair from the stripe to stretch the Cats lead to two possessions. The game ended with a failed trey attempt and, after some considerable labor pains, a new Charlotte Bobcats winning streak was born.
Wow, what a game. What an effort by both teams! When the buzzer sounded both squads were out of gas and this writer was fresh out of pithy commentary. Simply put, I can't recall the last time I had this much fun watching a Bobcats game. On the green scene, Monta Ellis was a wrecking machine. In a heartbreaking losing effort he supplied 31 points while Mike Dunleavy stormed off the bench to add 16 points of his own. But in the end it was the double-digit scoring efforts of no less than 5 Bobcats that brought home the win. This was a total team effort with starters Mullens and Walker each scrambling for 19 points, Michael Kid-Gilchrist right at their heels with 15, and fellow rookie Jeffery Taylor contributing a solid 10. It was however, the incredible and constant effort of Ramon Sessions coming off the bench to lead the team with 23 points in 32 minutes that truly seemed to seal the deal. Each time it seemed the Cats were about to let the Bucks slip out of reach it was Sessions that would be there to relight the fire. With that kind of 6th man effort, this team is going to pick up a whole lot of wins. On a night full of contenders, Ramon Sessions receives a well-deserved TSP Gamebreaker Award.
Next up for the explosive Bobcats the 3-7 Toronto Raptors will wrap up one of their double-doubles by taking the Time Warner court on Thanksgiving Eve. Give yourself something extra to be thankful for and drop on by. If the game is anything remotely like this one it will give you plenty to talk about over your turkey dinner. As I said, I'm fresh out of pith so... something, something, and something else... down on Trade Street.