Saturday, February 21

Of "Super" Screens and Arm Bars

This loss was painful. Needing to win between 18-20 of their remaining 30 games, the Bobcats fell to 1-2 after the All-Star break. Unlike the first matchup of the week against the Magic, the Bobcats did not play well, and weren't in the game for nearly the entire second half, and this was the first game this season, where the team collecively looked rattled. The game started out physical, but by midway through the second quarter the officials had found their whistles, at least on one end of the court. The refs doing a poor job did not cost the team a victory as it did earlier in the week, but if anyone had doubts about Dwight Howard's Star status, they need only watch these two games. Howard's ability to not get called for moving screens, hacks, and offensive fouls can only be attributed to the time honored tradition of the NBA making sure the stars stay on the court.

When people explain why they don't watch the NBA, the star treatment is often one of the reasons mentioned, and having watched the Cats get man-handled by Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu being allowed to armbar his defender to the side every single time he dribbles, I completely understand the argument. For the Bobcats to be effective they need to play solid defense, but they aren't even given the opportunity, when faced with the additional task of trying to stay in front of their man fighting through moving screens and constant forearm shivers. This may sound like sour grapes, but there is no disputing that a no-call on Howard cost this team the first game and the lack of calls had the players attention far more in the second game, which attributed at least in part to the poor play. Between Hedo and Dwight in the two games, they attempted 43 free throws. The Bobcats as a team attempted 39 during the two games.

The Bobcats playoff chances now reside somewhere between slim and none, but Magic fans shouldn't get too excited. Their team is good, on some nights very good, but they are not playoff good. Dwight Howard has played undisciplined basketball since the All-Star break, they just happened to be playing a team that has less credibility with the refs than A-Rod has with anyone. The team fired up a combined 58 threes in the two games against the Bobcats, and while that may work in a first round contest, it won't cut it against either of the East's top teams. Once Howard isn't the biggest name on the court, it will be easier for officials to properly call fouls against him, and just wait for LeBron or Pierce to sell that ridiculous Hedo locked arm clear out.

I don't have an issue with the Magic, I like Van Gundy and Howard, but seeing your team getting jobbed because of their perceived standing in the league is frustrating at best. This team worked hard to out-rebound a front line that dwarfs them, both in pay and size, but due to a lack of name recognition, they end up on the losing end of two games. Congratulations Orlando, you guys have a nice little team, but just as Dwight Howard met his kryptonite over the weekend, this team will meet their's in the playoffs in the form of a team with more name recognition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If that is the case then we may never see the 'Cats in the playoff when you are in a Divison with Howard and Wade and sometimes (like the letter Y) Arenas. I do not see a star ever coming to Charlotte, so Charlotte needs to make a player a Star.