“We’re giving heavy minutes to a lot of young guys, and that’s a lot of seeds in the earth that will eventually be harvested,” Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said after the Clippers peed all over his flowerbed last night, 104-86. Dunlap’s strategy is nice and all, but Charlotte has been nothing but harvesters of sorrow for their drought-stricken fans this year, and last night was no oasis. Every Clippers point seemed to come either via 3-pointer or explosive dunk that left the Bobcats running for cover.
The game’s only bit of irony—a 6-point Bobcats lead after the first quarter—was quickly extinguished midway through the second quarter. “For 20 minutes we played fantastic basketball,” Dunlap said. “We had the lead, but we made some turnovers that they made some dunks off of, and…it carried over into the second half.” He’s perhaps over-simplifying the final 28 minutes a bit, but he definitely identified the turning point. Los Angeles went on a 15-5 run with 6 minutes left in the second quarter to melt Charlotte’s popsicle, and it was a rim-shaking siege of Blake Griffin- and DeAndre Jordan-authored savagery. Meanwhile, Charlotte responded with a turnover five-of-a-kind: traveling (Byron Mullens), bad pass (Kemba Walker), bad pass (Mullens), bad pass (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), bad pass (Walker), and…bad pass (Mullens again, just missing the bad pass hat trick). Again, though, the Bobcats didn’t so much go cold as they went Bobcat; Charlotte is 29th in both offensive and defensive efficiency (inexplicably still ahead of Sacramento in both categories—the Kings are the Hummer of NBA efficiency).
They were also victimized by Griffin and Jordan, who—with tech support provided by Chris Paul—didn’t just change the complexion of the game, they Michael Jackson’ed it. I initially scoffed when Clippers color commentator Michael Smith referred to Griffin as “the most athletic power forward of all time,” and then I saw him levitate over Gerald Henderson, draw the foul, and tomahawk the rock with 3:40 to go in the third. I honestly am not exaggerating when I say “levitate”: Griffin launched and actually hung motionless in the air—long enough to suggest one of those mid-70s cop shows where they freeze the actors palling around at the office and roll the credits—and then his jump got a second wind and he went back up again. Oh, he also switched to his left hand, which actually seems less impressive because he was working with about 4 seconds of hangtime—he had plenty of time to multitask. Check it out here. It wasn’t a dagger shot, it was a shanking.
Offensively, the Bobcats continue to rely on Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson for nearly all of their scoring needs, which is a strategy that might seem nutritious but is secretly made of horse meat. Walker and Henderson are sporting a .478 and a .462 eFG%, respectively, which is essentially the best on the team (after you filter out Josh McRoberts, Jeff Taylor, and Reggie Williams, who barely play; and Ben Gordon, who is barely allowed on the team plane). But among guards with at least 1,000 minutes, Walker’s eFG% is ranked 56th and Henderson’s rank is 71st. As for the third option, I love Ramon Sessions—the way he gets to the line, he’s been like the Corey Maggette we never had—but his .431 eFG% is all the way down to 81st among guards with at least 1,000 minutes, and lately it seems like he can’t score unless he’s fouled. The solution to all this, is obviously not to rely on our big men more. God no! I wouldn’t trust Bismack Biyombo to Post Raisin Bran, let alone post up on someone like Blake Griffin. The solution is to…there actually isn’t a solution—at least, not for this season; this season is the world’s worst Choose Your Own Adventure book in which you die no matter which page you turn to. The solution is probably to go to Utah on Friday and figure out which of the Jazz’s many forwards you can pry loose, preferably without offering a max deal.
(Reminder: Please don’t forget to check out my e-book at the following link)