Blogcat’s Take, 12/14
I was going to devote this column to Al Jefferson, but first I have to devote homage—and perhaps a kidney if ever needs it—to Kemba Walker for his spectacular performance Monday night against the Golden State Warriors. So far this year Walker has regressed in just about every statistical category, but like Luther, leader of the Rogues, he was nearly unstoppable against the Warriors. Some crazy dude (not me, I swear) compiled Walker’s game highlights on YouTube, and I haven’t had this much fun picking my favorite moment in a telecast since Karl Rove’s election night meltdown on Fox News. Do you realize the man scored Charlotte’s last 15 points (Kemba Walker, that is, not Karl Rove)? It’s true, and the Isaiah Thomas-style deke on Harrison Barnes for a jumper with 3:28 to go is basically why I still shower and deodorize every day—I want to be clean for moments like those. And yet, I’m still a sucker for a long-range kill-shot out of nowhere, and so seeing Kemba screaming at Jefferson to clear out and then burying a balls-out a 3-pointer with 2 seconds to go on the shot-clock at 5:02 of the fourth quarter…well, for me, that takes the cake like a fat kid on his birthday. Thank you, Kemba from the faraway Bronx, it was an honor and a privilege to watch you.
So besides being shooed away by Kemba, where was Al Jefferson while Walker was playing US government to the Bobcats’ Citigroup? Jefferson spent the Walker bailout shooting 5-for-16, with only 5 of those attempts coming in the paint. A combination of Andrew Bogut and the slowly-decomposing-before-our-eyes Jermaine O’Neal bottled Jefferson up like a Snapple. The following game against the Magic’s Nikola Vusevic was even worse. In the low post, Jefferson tried every trick short of a banana in the tailpipe on Vusevic, who refused to bite, swallowing Jefferson like a Tylenol and allowing just 10 points on 10 shots. (The game itself, by the way, was a nightmare—there’s really nothing more humiliating than having Jameer Nelson rub it in your face; I’d rather receive a wedgie from Urkel.) Jefferson, though, redeemed himself nicely Friday night against Roy Hibbert and the Pacers, hanging 21 points on arguably the league’s stingiest defender. Thus after an up and down week against some of the league’s best competition, and having played 61% of the team’s games, we can start to assess Jefferson’s progress and value.