In their continuing quest to seek out new ways to lose in the most agonizing manner possible, the Bobcats discovered two gems this week. On Monday they went from hitting the Ben Gordon Lottery to flat broke in 5 minutes. On Wednesday they figured, “Why bother trying to defeat the Knicks ourselves when J.R. Smith is willing to do it for free?” The trick almost worked, with Smith and company chucking their way to oblivion until the Bobcats went on a murderous turnover spree in the final handful of plays, setting up Smith and his happy dance. The root cause of both of these disasters was—again—poor defensive rebounding. Do you know what the definition of insanity is? It’s saying that stupid definition-of-insanity line over and over and expecting people to think you’re cool. But it’s also expecting to win when you give the opposing team more second chances than Chris Brown. The Bobcats are now dead-last in opponents’ offensive rebound rate, and if they don’t start boxing out like a homeless meth addict immediately, we’re never going to get our 8th win.
The Monday night loss to the Blazers continues to haunt me worse than a Ke$ha rap. First of all, Portland was playing its 6th straight road game and coming off an extremely unimpressive OT game with Cleveland. In other words, the Blazers were riper for the picking than Lady Gaga’s nose. Plus, do you know how bad their second unit is? Joel Freeland, Luke Babbitt, Meyers Leonard, Nolan Smith, Will Barton, and Sasha Pavlovic!? I’ve seen more attractive benches being puked on by hobos in Central Park.
And the Bobcats got off to a fantastic start, too, making it all the more tragic. Byron Mullens grabbed his own miss with about 8 minutes to go in the first quarter and threw down a slam so tremendous that they basically had to suspend play to issue mass EMT support to the crowd. Then, just two minutes later, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist took a pass from Jeffery Taylor and flushed it like a dead pet goldfish, causing a near-orgiastic Steve Martin to let loose with, “TWO RIM-WRECKERS IN ONE QUARTER!!” (I was happy for ol’ Steve; that was probably his moon-shot moment). All of this set up Mr. Gordon for an 8-of-12 3-point night of glory and that aforementioned 18-point lead.
Little noticed, however, was that Brendan Haywood exited at 5:41 of the 3rd quarter and didn’t return, taking his 3 offensive boards up to that point with him. Bismack Biyombo was also replaced by Gerald Henderson—Gerald Henderson, I said—at 5:31 of the 4th quarter. This gave the Cats a crunch-time lineup of Henderson, Mullens, MKG, Kemba Walker, and Ramon Sessions for those final, fateful, five frustrating minutes. During that time, the Blazers tied it up by grabbing six offensive boards (and by LaMarcus Aldridge and Babbitt playing like guys who had a severe height advantage). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has blown a 15-point with less than 5 minutes to go in 12 years?! Is that right? I could swore the Bobcats did it just last year in one of those nightmarish Detroit games. Nonetheless, the Bobcats blew this one like a spoonful of flaming hog balls.
To his credit, coach Dunlap recognized his lineup deficiencies in the following game against the Knicks and had both Mullens and Biyombo out there for the final minutes (though, puzzlingly, not Haywood for the entire fourth quarter for the second straight game—does he not know that Haywood has strong Carolina roots?). It still didn’t matter. Tyson Chandler had more boards than an outhouse and were it not for those cartoonish 41 3-pointers the Knicks attempted, this game never would have been close in the first place. Even so, the Bobcats had a 6-point lead with 3:50 to play. Watching at home, I tried to relax, but I was undone by a shot of Dunlap on my TV screen with that same expression Liam Neeson had when dropping his daughter off at the airport for an innocent trip to Europe in Taken. Sure enough, all turnover hell broke loose. In short order, Charlotte committed a 24-second violation, a failed in-bound, a travel, and two old-fashioned bad passes; it was a turnover royal flush. Part of it was just sloppiness, and part of it was Gordon and Walker getting closer coverage than Kate Middleton’s pregnancy (something Portland did as well). All of it was uglier than those old Toronto Raptors uniforms—the ones that looked like Vince Carter was getting groped in the ass by a dinosaur skeleton claw. The J.R. Smith game-winner at least relieved us of overtime.
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