So far I’m 1-0 for the month of December. I’m pretty sure you are too, in regards to predicting the December record for the Charlotte Bobcats, but still. Undefeated is undefeated. The good news is, I didn’t really give Charlotte much of a chance in last night’s game with the formidable New York Knicks. Instead of bowing out early, however, Charlotte showed us the tenacity they’re displayed frequently in this young 2012 season. In fact, had it not been for a late J.R. Smith jumper, the Bobcats might have pulled this one off.
While we wipe away the tears stemming from a close 100-98 loss on Wednesday night, let’s move forward and analyze the good and bad we can take away from another game for the Bobcats:
1. Kemba Walker is Still the Man
I’m half expecting his solid second-year run to drop off at some point, but all Walker does is keep on beasting at the right time. He’s carrying an over-achieving, young group that simply wants to compete. With 25 points and 11 dimes against the Knicks, Walker didn’t just lead the way, but he paced both teams and controlled the tempo of this game. The stud sophomor now has just one game under double digits scoring on the year.
2. Welcome Back, Gerald!
Gerald Henderson actually returned from a near one month absence a few days ago, but he truly “returned” last night with 18 points and six boards off the bench. More specifically, his hit two of three long range balls, making him 3 of 5 since he got back, and 5 out of 9 on the year. If Henderson keeps playing like this, he’ll be hard to let go via trade or free agency. At the very worst, his presence gives the Charlotte bench a major boost off the bench.
3. Hanging in There
Of all the things we could learn/see from this one, this was another example (in my opinion), that this team is legit. Being legit doesn’t mean they’re necessarily headed for the playoffs, but they’ve now given Portland, New York and Atlanta (all solid teams) all they can handle. If you take away that embarrassing loss to the Thunder back in late November, it’s easy to see that Charlotte is well-coached and can matchup with just about anyone. It won’t always equate to wins, but the rise in competition is a welcomed sight when you compare it to what we’ve come to expect.
Charlotte isn’t always the most consistent defensive team. After all, they did give up 100 points in this game. But I personally don’t chalk it up as a random stat when New York’s three big shooters (Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton), all struggle from the field. Felton went 7 for 19, Melo was just 8 for 22, and despite hitting the game-winner, Smith ended the night making just 6 of 16 shots. The Bobcats work harder on defense that what we saw last year, and they make sure most shots are contested. For the most part, that’s all you can ask for from a young team.
5. I like Jeffery Taylor
My last note is the big wing man the Bobcats keep giving minutes to – former Vandy star Jeffery Taylor. Not only has he been starting for the majority of the year, but I doubt he gives up his spot to the returning Gerald Henderson. He has good size and length for the two guard, something Henderson really doesn’t have, and he’s been able to bring timely offense and quality defense. He’s a diamond in the rough, too, as he is a second round draft choice.
Overall, I liked a lot of what I saw last night. Charlotte continues to give up a ton of points on the defensive end, but I’m liking the effort and the pace they play at. Walker continues to prove the Bobcats right, and their depth continues to round this team out. In a month or two, the Bobcats could be positioning themselves for one of the last two playoff spots, and whether or not that ends up being true, they could make a move to get even better. With Ramon Sessions, Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon and Jeffery Taylor all playing well, they have several pieces that other teams could covet for a variety of reasons. That’s music to the ears of a young team that is simply getting better with each passing week.