I still don't understand this.
Why do the Bobcats look like a team that could play in the NBA Finals against the L.A. Lakers in a 7-game series and not be embarrassed -- indeed, probably win -- and yet they still are only the ninth-best team in the Eastern Conference at the moment?
It's one of sports' strangest streaks, and it continued Tuesday night. Charlotte's 94-84 win over the Lakers was the Bobcats' sixth over L.A. in their last seven attempts. That's amazing -- 6-1 against the Lakers?!! -- given the Bobcats have never made the playoffs and L.A. is a championship contender every year.
The Bobcats played another superb game in this one, even though it seemed like nearly half the sellout crowd of 19,568 was cheering for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant needed 28 shots to score his 25 points -- he was 11-for-28 from the field and started 4-for-16, when the Bobcats built much of their lead.
Gerald Wallace was superb underneath, converting one difficult layup after another and ending with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Boris Diaw was a great facilitator, passing out 12 assists to go along with 11 points. Emeka Okafor had only four shot attempts, yet scored 13 points and had nine rebounds.
The Bobcats still must stay hot and hope for some major breaks to make the NBA playoffs. But on nights like Tuesday, we all got a taste of what it will feel like when they finally get there.
This was one of the best nights the Bobcats have ever had -- not as dramatic as the three-OT victory over the Lakers a couple of years ago, but more significant in terms of the playoff race.