The Bobcats-Bucks game on Monday night featured less defense than the Maginot Line as both teams blitzed each other for 51% shooting. In losing 133-99, the Bobcats allowed the Bucks to score their highest point total since 2009 and—even more embarrassingly—allowed Monta Ellis to be praised for his defense. “He’s playing as hard as he can play,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said of Ellis afterward, “And he’s doing a whole bunch of things at both ends of the floor.” Ellis may be doing a lot of things, but I wouldn’t count defense among that bunch. True, he had 6 steals, but they were of the classic, Allen Iverson, all-or-nothing variety (quite often resulting in the latter). His primary counterparts, Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker, and Gerald Henderson, shot a collective 20-of-30. Ellis plays defense like Atlanta teachers grade tests.
Not that this matters against a team like Charlotte. When the Bobcats come to town, refraining from picking your nose is about all the defense you need to play to give yourself a shot. And that’s what happened here, as Charlotte allowed Milwaukee over, around, and through them without so much as a harsh word. “We just couldn’t play any defense,” said Henderson, “You ain’t gonna beat nobody giving up 130 points.” You certainly ain’t, Gerald, especially nobody like Larry Sanders, who faced a stiffer challenge against referee Bill Kennedy’s noggin on the opening tip-off than he would the rest of the night. In a performance he probably would give three thumbs up, Sanders finished with 24 points and more offensive rebounds than the Bobcats had as a team. The Bobcats generally struggle with Sanders-type forwards, which is to say competent ones, but it would be nice if they weren’t always setting career highs against us.
As for the Bobcats, Tyrus Thomas played for the first time since the Harlem Shake was a culturally respected descendent of the East African dance Eskista. Thomas hoisted four 3-pointers, so I’m glad to see that after months of punishment, he’s at least learned his lesson about jacking up long-distance shots.
We should really acknowledge Walker and Henderson, though. Walker is all the way up to an 18.84 PER, which would put him at 9th in the league among PGs. Henderson’s 16.86 PER is also 9th in the league among shooting guards. The two have logged the second-most minutes together of any pairing on the team, and their net +/- rating is -9.9 (99.0 offensive rating, 108.9 defensive rating). That might not sound like much, because it, um, well, it isn’t. But considering that the team overall is a net -11.4, you get a sense that these guys are basically working small miracles. What do the Bobcats stand for? Most nights I don’t know, but at least these two are really trying.
But lord that defense is enough to make you want to watch endless reels of Kevin Ware breaking his leg for something more enjoyable. Bismack Biyombo is leading the team in defensive win-shares with 1.0. Yep, you read that right: one-point-oh-snap. He’s also “holding” opponents to 110 points/100 possessions. Other players in the 1/110 club include Wesley Matthews and Alonzo Gee. This is our defensive ace, mind you. I won’t give you comparisons to Ben Gordon’s stats only because there aren’t any—at least, not any non-fictional ones. I’m guessing the fat kid in Teen Wolf probably had something approaching Gordon’s -0.2/115…but then again, even he stepped it up in the championship game.
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