Tyrus Thomas left in the second half of the Dallas Mavericks game because he became ill. So did most Bobcats fans. A fairly competitive back-and-forth first half turned rancid with a 36-point Dallas 3rd quarter. As the defense folded like origami in the second half, Charlotte fans were treated to all sorts of indignities—Mark Cuban trash-talk, OJ Mayo taunts, and most humiliating of all, Vince Carter revitalization. The latter actually started in the first quarter, when Bismack Biyombo became the first player to get posterized on a thunderous dunk by Vinsanity since Fred Hoiberg. Then in the second quarter, the game actually came to a standstill when Carter blocked—blocked!—a Kemba Walker jumper; the crowd was so overwhelmed with shock and affection that for a half-second I honestly thought Vince was going to retire on the spot.
But the game really belonged to PG Darren Collison (8-12 with 10 assists). The Bobcats had no answer for him. Well, they did, but unfortunately the answer was, “Do whatever you want, because we’re powerless to stop you.” Because of Collison’s mastery, Chris Kaman (8-9 FG), Carter (4-8 3-pointers) and especially Mayo (7-10 3-pointers) had more open looks than the shower scene in Porky’s. Brendan Haywood incorrectly diagnosed the Bobcats’ handling of the transition as their fatal flaw. But the Bobcats only had 10 turnovers, only allowed 16 fast break points, and only gave up 50 points in the paint. Nobody’s going to write a sonnet about that kind of performance for sure, but Haywood was undervaluing Collison’s level of craftsmanship.
Offensively, Byron Mullens’ 3-point license is on the verge of being revoked. He’s now 2-14 from downtown in two games. Haywood’s final line of 7-13 would be more respectable if not every single one of his shots was within 10-feet of the rim. Kemba Walker (4-10 FG) was back to being the offensive equivalence of grasping at straws. Ben Gordon was something I thought I’d never say about him: passive, as he had just 6 shots in 19 minutes. Gerald Henderson’s night would have been completely forgettable (2-9 FG) had he not also gotten injured. Ramon Sessions was the brightest star by far, going 8-13 with 5 assists and 4 boards. With a 20+ point deficit by the early fourth quarter, we were clearly in Matt Carroll/Cory Higgins territory, otherwise Sessions’ line would have been much higher.
Defense, though, was what killed the Bobcats in this game, and it did so in every possible facet. The Mavericks’ offense was freebasing points: 61% from the field, 64% on 3-pointers, 80% from the free throw line. Mullens, Tyrus Thomas, and Biyombo combined for…let’s see…adding it up…zero blocks. In their defense, they probably weren’t expecting Kaman to play, because why would you at this point? Kaman has operated one of the greatest one-man ponzi schemes of the last 5 years: he’s earned $54M since 2007 and just signed an $8M deal this year despite playing in just 61% of his teams’ games with no playoff appearances. But I digress. Let’s hope Henderson’s injuries aren’t serious and coach Dunlap become more judicious with his use of the zone. Also, let’s hope Biyombo finds himself—and not in any more Vince Carter posters. Mack played 11 minutes and put up a bunch of zeroes in the stat sheet…sorry, he did have 1…oh, turnover. Never mind.
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