For most of last night, the Bobcats and Spurs played something approximating a game. But with about 3:45 to go in the fourth quarter, the Spurs took a narrow 10-point lead and un-narrowed it, resulting in a 24-point blowout wide enough to drive an El Camino through. This wasn’t exactly surprising, as the Spurs entered the game 15.5-point favorites with the biggest homecourt advantage since the Playboy Mansion—they’re 21-2 at the AT&T Center this year and have taken 17 straight. Still, it was a bummer to see a somewhat exciting game of cat-and-mouse quickly devolve into cat-and-severed-mouse-head.
On the plus side, San Antonio decided to rest Tim Duncan, sparing television viewers nationwide from having to listen to Spurs’ color commentator Sean Elliott endlessly express his intense man-love for “Timmy.” (side note: first Stacey King and now Elliott in back-to-back games—is NBA League Pass trying to get me to throw myself off a building?). Of course, that didn’t stop Elliott from hogging air space like it was San Antonio’s water supply with constant 1988 University of Arizona-era trash talk. He and King are the ultimate commentator trolls, and Elliott’s got to be the only man alive capable of making me empathize with DeMarcus Cousins.
Anyway, Elliott wasn’t the reason the Bobcats lost last night. That would be Tony Parker, who suavely ran through defenders like they were stunning, semi-famous women. Parker finished up 9-of-10 for 22 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals. He was joined by three other teammates in double-digits, including Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 4-5 from downtown), who was drafted 8 spots behind Bismack Biyombo in the 2011 draft—a fact I like repeating to myself anytime I get bored of yanking out individual pubic hairs with pliers. Speaking of Biyombo, he scored 1 point and committed 3 personal fouls. This is the third time in the last six games that he’s put up more fouls than points. I hate to say it, but you might want to consider sitting him if he’s on your fantasy team.
Also having another quiet (though oddly symmetric) evening was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals). January has been MKG’s worst month, as his shooting percentage plummeted from 56% in December to 39%. His minutes were slightly lower than they were in Nov-Dec, but his PPG was obviously down (10.9 to 7.1), as were his assists, steals, rebounds. And although he’s still doing enough overall to merit a 15.07 PER, that’s fallen to 7th place among rookies. Fortunately, his defense continues to be solid compared to other small forwards, and downright glowing like unicorn poop compared to his teammates. First, he’s holding his individual opponents to a ~15 PER; second, even as a starter who’s played 53% of his dreadful team’s minutes, he’s still kept the defense .4 points better/100 possessions when he’s on the court compared to when he’s off (courtesy of 82games.com).
Unfortunately, none of this is enough to save the Bobcats, who are more dead in the water than a fly drowning in a toilet. The defense continues to be a cocktail of suck, given their dual inability to defend the 3-point shot (last in the league) and the paint (actually only 20th—hey, we’re movin’ on up!). The Spurs hit 9-of-16 3-pointers last night, and this was actually a major improvement from the first time they played in December, when San Antonio bombed the Bobcats like a photo (19-of-34). I feel like coach Dunlap ought to just surrender the paint and close out on all shooters rather than trying to do both suckily. Unfortunately, there’s probably no easy answer for dealing with this continuing problem –like America’s destructive gun culture or the popularity of Skrillex.
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