If any good came out of the Bobcats’ latest disaster-piece, a 98-68 shelling in Utah, it’s that Charlotte maybe has a better chance now of bargaining down the price of either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap in the offseason. That’s because both Jazz big men sat out last night with sprained ankles (Millsap was also busy naming his newborn daughter “Paular”), and their sneakers were ably filled by Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Both Millsap and Jefferson are on the last years of their contracts, and if last night was any indication, the Jazz might potentially feel comfortable avoiding a bidding war for them, knowing that they have the younger Favors and Kanter to take their places. And maybe the Bobcats could pick one or both of them up.
I should just stop right there, because anytime I do that I sound like Dr. Brown developing a theory for a working flux capacitor. It ain’t going to happen. Besides, such a move wouldn’t make the Bobcats contenders, or probably even very good. On the other hand, it would at least reduce the frequency of games like last night’s. Kanter, a one-man Turkish prison, tortured the Bobcats with 23 points (on 10-12 shooting) and 22 rebounds. The Turkish Bath Salt ate through Bobcats defenders, freeing up benchmates Jeremy Evans, DeMarre Carroll, and Gordon Hayward, who combined to go 18-of-30 in the rout.
Kanter played 44 minutes, but even if he had rested more, the Bobcats still only had a coffee shop’s chance in Salt Lake City of winning this one. According to the AP recap, “Charlotte never got anything going on offense when it mattered and was held to its lowest point total of the season.” The Bobcats couldn’t anything going when it didn’t matter, either. The team looked confused and out of synch right from the giddy-up, scoring just 9 points in the first quarter and 24 points by halftime. Perhaps they were thrown off by the sight of what at first appeared to be a gigantic obese orc-troll who had perhaps recently escaped a carnival and had waddled onto the court midway through the first quarter, but who later turned out to be teammate DeSagana Diop. They also might have been thrown out of whack by 17 minutes from Ben Gordon, which was more playing time than his last 3 games combined. “He’s basically a jump shooter nowadays,” noted Jazz TV analyst Ron Boone, as if Gordon were ever anything else.
“They (the Bobcats) have got some talent here, but how long do you just continue to watch this team struggle?” wondered play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack midway through the fourth quarter. Nine years and counting, Craig. Byron Mullens’ quote afterwards sums up my own feelings: “You just have to remember it’s just a game. Just go out there and have fun. I know it’s a job now, but you still have to go out and compete.” Like Mullens, we’re probably all unclear if this is a game, fun, a job, or a competition; it’s just this thing that hangs over our lives like Salt Lake City air pollution. I do know that Michael Jordan and Rich Cho will have $7.4M in cap space this offseason once Diop’s contract comes off the books—not to mention untold millions in lower catering bills—so let’s hope they spend it on a high quality forward who is preferably conversant in the finer points of the game, such as catching, dribbling, and not inexplicably goaltending a shot a full second after it hits the backboard.
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