It was only one victory over Dallas and both Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion were out for the Mavericks. But the Charlotte Bobcats' 101-97 overtime victory over the Mavericks Saturday night still was quite a sign as to how far they've come from that horrid 23-game loss streak that ended last season.
This was the Bobcats' second victory, both of them at home. This one also came over the only NBA team the Bobcats had never beaten. I was in the stands, watching with my son and one of his buddies, which was a nice place to be. I wasn't working the game for the newspaper, but thought I'd weigh in anyway with a bonus blog since it was so good. Five quick impressions:
1) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (25 points, 12 rebounds) looked like a major player against the Mavericks. This was exactly what the Bobcats (2-3) hoped he would be when they drafted him No.2 this summer -- a little bit of everything. Michael Jordan compared MKG to Scottie Pippen in The Observer's recent interview with MJ -- on this night, it didn't seem quite as farfetched.
2) I thought I was dreaming, but it was reality: Gana Diop actually played in the third quarter and had a block and a steal on consecutive possessions.
3) Kemba Walker (26 points, eight steals) has taken a major leap in Year Two. His quickness can be stunning. Either he or MKG were involved in just about every key play for Charlotte. And Walker is getting so much better at working himself free and then hitting the mid-range jumper.
4) Dallas's Vince Carter got in Brendan Haywood's face after the game ended, as Haywood tried to keep Carter away from the Bobcats' bench. Looked like it could have gotten ugly for about 30 seconds, but the two former Tar Heels ultimately kept it (mostly) a verbal altercation except for some light shoving. Carter was furious about something, though.
5) The Bobcats' recovery in the final 25 seconds of regulation was quite a feat. Down four with 25 seconds left, they got a dunk by Haywood, a missed free throw, a rebound and finally a driving layup by Ramon Sessions (who has been a very good closer so far) to tie it. After that, winning the OT was comparatively easy.