The Charlotte Bobcats' playoff hopes are still technically alive, but I believe they officially ended Sunday night with a 97-91 home loss to a pretty terrible Washington team.
Washington entered the game 2-35 on the road this season -- 2-35!! -- and yet now has its third win courtesy of a Bobcats team that couldn't keep the Wizards out of the paint. Washington outscored Charlotte 58-36 in the paint, which allowed the Bobcats to waste good performances by D.J. Augustin (21 points, seven assists) and Matt Carroll (a season-high 26, including 17 in a dazzling fourth quarter for him and a bad fourth quarter for everyone else). Washington big man Andray Blatche (25 points, 17 rebounds) absolutely destroyed the Bobcats.
This isn't a huge surprise, of course -- Charlotte handcuffed itself this season with the Gerald Wallace trade. But to lose to the Wizards?! Charlotte had a great chance to gain a game on Indiana Sunday (the Pacers lost to New Orleans) but instead stayed two behind with six Bobcat games to go (and four for Indiana).
I write in my column for Monday's newspaper that the Bobcats would need to go 5-1 or 6-0 to surpass the Pacers (who also hold the tiebreaker over Charlotte), but that it ain't going to happen. No way this team can go on a run like that, not with games against Orlando and Miami remaining. They would need a near-total collapse by the Pacers and some sustained great play over the next nine days -- it's just too much to ask.
No, this loss sealed it in my opinion. There's realistic way to catch Indiana now. Charlotte might make it close for a couple of days and get a few more wins -- especially if Stephen Jackson returns from his hamstring injury this week as he hopes to -- but it's just too much ground to make up.