On the one hand, the Bobcats committed 18 turnovers, shot 38% from the field, missed 9 free throws, snapped their 3-game winning streak, and probably lost Tyrus Thomas for several games with a calf injury. But on the plus side, if they ever decide to reboot the “Daredevil” franchise, I think we’ve found our next Bullseye. That would be Memphis’s Jerryd Bayless, part of an entourage of rebounders and turnover-causers that—like a regulation NBA ball—proved to be too much for the Bobcats to handle last night. Rick Bonnell noted that Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon each had 4 “throwaways,” but two of Gordon’s were really dribble-off-your-own-knee-with-nobody-even-guarding-you-aways. I also counted at least two separate occasions in which Byron Mullens was genuinely stunned when someone passed him the ball and proceeded to bobble it all over the place. Considering his 7-21 shooting performance, perhaps he should have been stunned.
There were other positives in this game, though, starting with the crowd. The previous home game against the Wizards had fewer occupants than a Deadwood brothel. Against the Grizzlies, though, the crowd was into it for most of the night. Even after Mike Conley’s 32-footer on a broken play put Memphis up 11 and sucked the air out of the building faster than Cohaagen in Total Recall, the crowd still rallied the Bobcats to get within 5. It wasn’t enough, though, with Conley controlling the game a la Chris Paul and Zach Randolph attacking the hoop like it was Kendrick Perkins by a bus.
Also, Hakim Warrick made his Bobcats debut late in the game, and he had a handy 5 points in 10 minutes. Bonnell referred to Warrick as a “consummate professional” a few days ago in an article, and while I never get too psyched up when the strongest compliment you can give a professional basketball player is that he’s “professional,” I’m intrigued by the offense that Warrick might be able to create. He had 6 free throw attempts and helped get the Bobcats into the bonus, which was key to their comeback. As long as Thomas (0-for-6 and a fetid 11.89 PER) and Brendan Haywood (2-4 in 20 minutes) are shooting blanks, Warrick could be important. This would be especially true if he’s teamed up for extensive minutes with rock-handed Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo might be the only one in the world who, if you were to toss him a Nerf football, might make it explode.
Warrick even makes the Bobcats trendy! ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, whom I normally worship, had a fairly shallow piece on Friday about how the Knicks and the Grizzlies are capitalizing on a new trend with what he calls “second draft players.” Hollinger defines these guys as often high draft picks who struck out with their first teams, but are young and talented enough to find new life with a new team. He points to guys like Bayless, Wayne Ellington, Quincy Pondexter, and Marreese Speights as examples of players with key roles on the Grizzlies, who were able to acquire them cheaply after their shine had worn off with their original teams. I’m sorry, but that’s just not a trend, because every team does this, whether the team is good or bad. The Bobcats got Warrick, Byron Mullins, DJ White, and Derrick Brown using the same philosophy—some worked and some didn’t. This isn’t holding a “second draft,” it’s just taking a flyer on someone who’s underperformed and hoping that he plays better. Or it’s just being cheap and getting lucky; this “second draft” thing is just Hollinger trying to Malcolm Gladwell-ize something with a gimmicky name.
Anyway, there was some good and some bad to come out of Friday night, but nothing to get too worked up about either way. Losing by 7 to the second-most efficient defense and the fifth-most efficient offense in the league is nothing to shake a stick at. Then again, I wouldn’t want to prop that stick up and do a pole dance on it either.
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