TD Garden might as well have been renamed “The Last Arena on The Left” last night, as the Bobcats were sadistically snuffed out in a blowout that bordered on exploitative, 105-88. The victory enabled the Celtics to avenge their unsettling defeat at the hands of those same marauding Bobcats earlier in the week. The final margin was only 17 points, but Paul Pierce sat for the entire 4th quarter and Kevin Garnett never played. Nonetheless, the Celtics spit on the Bobcats’ grave by shooting almost 52% from the field and hitting 10-15 3-pointers. “I thought defensively it was pretty disappointing,” Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap understated afterward. “I think we’re a better defensive team.” It’s unclear why he would think that, considering the Bobcats are the league’s worst team in defensive efficiency, according to teamrankings.com, allowing 1.075 points-per-possession. Oh wait, I see last night they allowed 1.132 PPP, so technically I guess he’s right; the Bobcats are a better defensive team—I take it back, coach!
The Charlotte Bobcats are no-doubt celebrating(?), after having beaten the Boston Celtics last night to pick up their 14th win. And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, they went out and signed journeyman’s journeyman Jannero Pargo. Pargo’s role will primarily be to replace Ramon Sessions as Kemba Walker’s backup, and secondarily it will be to give Ben Gordon another option to avoid before hoisting a 3-point attempt.
But let’s talk about Pargo another time, like after he’s released in a month. For now, how about win number XIV?! As everyone who saw the game on TV will tell you, they quickly changed the channel once they realized that NCIS: Los Angeles wasn’t a rerun. No, I’m kidding, everyone will of course tell you that the story of the game was Gerald Henderson, who drove to the lane more aggressively than Mel Gibson after being cut off by a car full of black people pulling out of a synagogue. I counted five field goals in the paint for G-Hen, including—and I mean this entirely non-cynically—really, I do—an astonishing up-and-under layup in the first quarter (right after Byron Mullens blew an alley-oop, which was not at all astonishing; in fact, it was non-stonishing). I remember this play vividly, because not only did Henderson hang in the air longer than a fart in a crowded elevator, but he cut me off mid-Mullens-curse-out. He also bailed the Bobcats out with a jumper at the end of the half, he was a perfect 12-of-12 from the line, he finished with a career-high 35 points, he played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and he held Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee to a combined total of just 20 points. All in all, the man worked harder than the air freshener on Lil Wayne’s tour bus. Bravo.
Last night was one of the best bouts of insomnia I’ve ever had. Even though I had to chug a keg of coffee with a Scarface-sized pile of Splenda to get me going this morning, it was all worth it. That’s how psyched I was to see the Bobcats take out the Boston Celtics. I know, I know, the Celtics were playing the second game of a back-to-back, their game the night before had gone to triple-OT, they were already down Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and eventually Leandro Barbosa, etc., so I shouldn’t exactly be doodling bumblebees while whistling the theme to The Partridge Family. In fact, the Bobcats are like a 1986 Nintendo game in that you can always beat them straight up, so the only way to make it challenging is to start upping the degree of difficulty, (e.g., beating Kung Fu by only limiting yourself to jump-kicks). And in this case, the Celtics finally just had too few options to beat the Mr. X Bobcats. I don’t care about any of that; I’m still joyful. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.
After all, we didn’t just beat the Celtics, we stopped their 7-game winning streak. That’s right, like the Pope, the Celtics are suddenly fallible again. Boston’s perfect record since Rondo went down was probably more incidental than anything else, because they’re probably a 7th or 8th seed at best this year. Now that I think about it, doesn’t it feel like their decline has been going on for years? It actually feels like it’s lasted longer than their prime at this point—they’re like the Roman Empire. Or Vince Carter. But anyway, they’ve given the Bobcats more fits than a Nordstrom’s clerk on crank through the years, so we should savor every victory we can get.
Bobcats fans had a feeling that their team could be a little better with the return of big man Byron Mullens after a 19-game layoff. It took five games, but boy were we all right.
Mullens lead the way by far in Monday night’s impressive win over the Boston Celtics, as the Bobcats snapped a seven game losing skid with a close 94-91 victory. Mullens was just abusing Boston in the paint on his way to 18 rebounds, as well as a solid 25 points off of 10-of-16 shooting. While his shooting touch (4-of-5 from three) was worth talking about on its own, it was the intensity on the boards that got attention, and Mullens was pleased with that.
”I just have to show the league and this organization that I can rebound,” said Mullens after the game.
It’s not like Mullens can’t hit the glass. He averages over eight boards per game, but at seven feet tall, he and just about everyone else is probably shooting for over 10 rebounds per game. It’s clear with this rebounding outburst that he has the potential, and it’s also evident that he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and is dedicated to improving his rebounding craft.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Charlotte Bobcats will aim to end a losing streak tonight. Blah, blah, blah, right? Yes, the Bobcats have another quality losing streak on their hands again, this time being of the three-game variety.
And luck them, they get to try to prevent it from advancing to a four-game skid against the Boston Celtics on Monday night – on the road, mind you.
The Celtics aren’t quite as formidable as they have been in the past, but they’re definitely not an easy out, either. The Celtics are a fairly average team in terms of wins/losses at just 19-17 on the year, but they still have the talent to whip you around on defense and school you on offense.
The only question is, will it happen against Charlotte tonight? Let’s break down the game as we try to pick this one accurately:
1. The Point – Edge: Celtics
Kemba Walker is a heck of an offensive player and is really improving in all respects, but he’s still not a great defender and Rajon Rondo can pretty much do it all. Rondo is the better rebounder, passer and defender, and he can get his offense going when he needs to, as well. Avery Bradley can fill in for him at the point, and he brings a mean punch on defense, too. This matchup is actually closer than some would think due to more offensive out-put coming from the position for Charlotte, but I have to give Boston the edge because they’re simply more experienced and versatile at the point.
Amazingly, the Bobcats continue to break new records in humiliation. I personally thought they topped out by losing back-to-back blowouts to the Cavaliers and Wizards last week, but it turns out they were just getting warmed up. In fact, those games were mere wedgies and “Kick Me” signs compared to the bucket of pig’s blood that was Monday’s Hornets game.
But before getting to that one, I don’t want to take away from Sunday night’s loss to the Celtics, because it was marvelously putrid in its own right. For starters, the C’s rested their “Big 3” of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen. It made no difference, though, because right now the Bobcats couldn’t beat the band Boston, let alone the basketball team. PG Rajon Rondo (20-16-6) had his way with the entire team, frequently tangling up Kemba Walker and DJ Augustin in screens like Batman villains on the old 60s TV show. Rondo was hardly alone, though. Greg Stiemsma, a cross between Serge Ibaka and Eminem, blocked 6 shots and owned the paint. Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass combined to go 18-for-33 from the field. Ryan Hollins played 20 minutes. That’s how bad it was.
And then came the Hornets game, which was the NBA’s answer to the Pete Campbell-Lane Pryce fight. In a spectacular display of joint-incompetence, both teams threatened to break the all-time lowest scoring mark held by the Celtics and the Hawks…That would be the Milwaukee Hawks of 1955, back when the league was populated by guys named Dickie, Whitey, and Adolph. Poor Spencer Percy’s recap of this embarrassing monstrosity for ESPN’s Daily Dime read more like a cry for help. “That was painful, pitiful, pathetic. Take your pick,” Percy wrote, “I’m just not so sure this team isn’t really the worst ever. Every night it gets harder to watch the Bobcats play.” Percy should just make a hologram of himself reading his recap and send it to David Stern, Princess Leia-style.