From the Booth

BOOTH AFTER OT WIN OVER CAVS
Mike Fratello and Ian Eagle break down how the Nets were able to pull off an overtime thriller to beat the Cavaliers 98-94 on the road.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Gerald Henderson

Sophomore shooting guard Gerald Henderson is shaping into a future franchise star for the Charlotte Bobcats. A very athletic player who can run and defend, Henderson does a little bit of everything. And he’s a terrific team member.

Henderson hails from Duke University’s prestigious basketball program. During his junior year he led the Blue Devils in scoring with16.5 points per game on the way to a First-Team All-ACC award and ACC tournament championship. Henderson entered the 2009 NBA draft after his junior year and was selected 12th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

When Henderson first entered the league, people questioned his ball handling skills and his ability to make shots from the perimeter. Henderson has worked very hard to make significant improvements in both areas. Inserted into the Bobcats’ starting lineup after Gerald Wallace was traded to Portland, Henderson’s minutes have nearly tripled since last season, and so has his productivity. Henderson is up from 2.6 to 8.2 ppg this year. He’s pulling down 2-3 rebounds per game on average this month and dishing out a couple assists.

Henderson struggled in last week’s loss to the Thunder, hitting just 2 of 7 shots. ‎But he ended the week on a high note, scoring 19 points against the No.1 Spurs on Saturday. With Stephen Jackson sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Jackson took over the reigns and hit 9 of 14 shots from the field. He also recorded four rebounds, one assist, and two steals in 37 minutes. The Bobcats have dropped 9 of their last 11 games. But they still remain in striking distance for the eighth playoff seed in the East, currently held by Indiana. The Bobcats will host the Pacers at home on Wednesday. Top scorer Jackson is listed as doubtful to play against the Pacers, so Henderson will likely have another opportunity to score in the double digits.

Czar Trivia

Picked up a fun fact from the NBA Encyclopedia: There is only one time in the history of professional sports that any player played for both teams in the same game. And that instance occurred in the NBA on this day in 1979, when the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets replayed the final 17:50 of their contest that was originally played on November 8, 1978 due to a protest being upheld.

When the game began on November 8, Harvey Catchings and Ralph Simpson played for the 76ers while Eric Money and Al Skinner played for the Nets. But all four were traded to the opposing teams by the time the Sixers-Nets game was resumed on March 23.

Fratello Telestrator: Bulls Offense

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Gameday Dish: Bulls vs. Hawks

The Chicago Bulls (50-19) come to the Peach State to take on the Atlanta Hawks (40-30). This evening’s contest will be the finale of the three scheduled meetings this 2010-11 NBA regular season between these Eastern Conference playoff-bound teams.

In round one, Atlanta rallied from a 19-point deficit to best the Bulls on March 2nd at Philips Arena, 83-80. Al Horford led the comeback with a career-high tying 31 points in that game. This loss lit a fire under Chicago. The Bulls proceeded to go on an 8-game winning streak and are 9-1 in their last 10. In the Bulls-Hawks rematch on March 11th, in the midst of this season-best streak, leading MVP candidate Derrick Rose scored 34 points in a win (94-76) over the Hawks in the Windy City.

Chicago is now tied with the Boston Celtics for the #1 seed in the East, while both sit only 2.5 games ahead of the dangerously talented and constantly scrutinized team in Miami. With only three weeks remaining until the 82 regular are done, players and hoops-heads alike are no doubt looking ahead to the postseason. Both the Hawks and Bulls will be part of commissioner Stern’s 2011 ‘after-party’ in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta is seemingly locked into the 5th spot in the East  – 4.5 games behind the Orlando Magic and 4 games above the Philadelphia 76ers. They won Sunday at home over the Detroit Pistons (104-96) with six Hawks reaching double figures. However, this W only raised their record in the last 10 games to 4-6. The Hawks have to pull together and string together some much-needed wins in their last dozen games so they can establish momentum going into the playoffs.

Forging full steam ahead, the Bulls dominated the Sacramento Kings last night at the United Center, 132-92, with their highest scoring output in nearly three seasons. Ninth-year PF Carlos Boozer returned to the lineup for Chicago after sitting out 5 games with a sprained ankle. The former Dukie scored 16 points, grabbed 5 boards and dished 4 dimes in only 26 minutes. In fact, the game was so one-sided that the Bulls outscored the Kings in every quarter and were able to get their starters significant bench time. PG Rose had 18 points and 8 dimes in only 28 minutes, so he should be more rested than usual in the second game of this Bulls back-to-back.

A victory tonight for the Hawks (who began as the Buffalo Bisons – kinda like a Bull, no?), against the NBA’s hottest team (though only 19-15 on the road) would be a great springboard for the stretch-run and a solid season closeout before the first round of the playoffs. Dick Stockton, who’s been my first-round broadcast partner the last couple of seasons, will join me in the booth tonight when the Hawks take on the Bulls at 8:00 PM ET on TNT.