The Bobcats were in an excellent position to go 4-2 this week by playing a rematch with the Knicks, whom they just beat. Amazingly, this would have kept both the Bobcats and the Panthers over .500 for the first time since…2005! (note to self: go back and research that stat. Could that be right? Was the last time I felt good about both hometown teams really the same time I also felt mildly let down by the remake of King Kong?) Instead, the whole thing unraveled faster than a Homeland plot. The Knicks went down to Charlotte and squashed the Cats like a casserole on 12-for-26 3-point shooting, many emanating from Andrea Bargnani, whom the Bobcats left more wide open than his perpetually agape mouth.
One thing about Bargnani: in case you’ve ever wondered why you secretly hate him, it’s not just because of that dopey-looking open mouth, it’s because he is a stone-cold Bobcats skinner. Take a look at the stats: 36.3 points per 48 minutes against the Bobcats last year, 31.6 in 2011, 25.1 in 2010, 26.4 in 2009, etc., etc. The man stands just stands there, plays no defense, and crushes the Bobcats; he’s an Italian loafer…of death! Except in the Wednesday rematch, he wasn’t. He actually put the ball on the floor and completely confused everyone, perhaps even his own teammates. Whereas his shot chart normally looks like a bunch of X’s and O’s at the top of the 3-point line like a sutured wound, this time he hit six from circa-18-feet and two in the paint. Just this little bit of diversity from Bargnani kept the Bobcats two steps behind on defense all night; they either sacrificed open shooters on the 3-point line or they allowed Carmelo Anthony to destroy them in single coverage. The Bobcats are still the 13th most efficient defensive team at 100.5 points per 100 possessions, but on Wednesday they gave up 106.6.