On the verge of embarrassing the Lakers on their home court, the Bobcats came up emptier than a soda calorie on their last possession. Gerald Henderson failed to put back a partially-blocked Kemba Walker miss, Byron Mullens mistakenly thought the hoop was attached to the ceiling, and then Ben Gordon missed a pretty good 3-point look after a mad scramble. Ballgame.
I think the turning point actually came a few minutes earlier, when with 6:30 to go and the Bobcats down one, Walker missed two free throw attempts and then a wide-open 13-foot jumper that he normally makes with Spam-like consistency. Then the Bobcats forced the Lakers into an inbound play with about 2 seconds on the shot-clock that Kobe Bryant of course hero-balled for a 3-pointer. Now that I type it out, it doesn’t seem like much on paper, but trust me, it was an opportunity more golden than Juan Manuel Marquez’s urine and the Bobcats just couldn’t convert.
The shell-shocked Bobcats then PTSD’d their way to a 17-point humiliation the following night in Phoenix. Unlike the Lakers game, this one had more garbage time than a landfill. The Bobcats actually trailed by 30 at one point, and if I had to title this series, it would be “Please Shannon Don’t Hurt ‘Em.” Shannon Brown now owns the Bobcats like a mail-order bride, having gone for 50 points in their two contests. Brown was joined by a Phoenix phalanx of frenetic force: 17 made 3’s, 55% shooting from the field and 31 assists.
Amidst the carnage, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist deserves a bronze star for valor: MKG somehow finished a +1 for the night and banged his way to 7-8 free throws and 5 offensive boards. Kemba Walker has also shined through the darkness like a blue-clad menorah over this miserable holiday stretch. Walker put up 27 points (and was also just -1 for the night) on Phoenix and 28 on LA. His PER is up to 20.35, he’s 9th in steals among PGs, and he’s 4th in estimated wins added (EWA). In fact as a whole, the Bobcats backcourt has been firing like a buddhist monk, so why do they suck so bad?
That would be the frontcourt. Check out this awesome table that I just lifted off of 82games.com like Winona Ryder in a clothing store. It shows the net PER for the Bobcats by position (e.g., the PG’s have a PER of 20.3 and have allowed an opponent PER of 17.4 PER for a net of +2.9). See if you can spot the pattern:
I hinted at this in an earlier piece (actually, no I didn’t, I directly stated it), but the team is getting nothing from Bismack Biyombo and Brendan Haywood offensively. And as this chart illustrates, their defense isn’t coming close to offsetting their lack of production. Biyombo came up huge at the end of the Lakers game with a difficult 3-foot bucket to tie it at 95, two free throws to tie it up again at 97, and a tremendous block on Darius Miles to preserve the tie, but all of it would be a pretty ribbon on a turd of a second season. His PER has barely budged from last year’s 10, and is it me, or does every one of his shots—even those that should be point-blank stuffs—wobble and teeter on the rim like Mel Gibson on a sobriety test? And that’s if we’re lucky, because he’s the 6th most turnover-prone PF in the league. According to hoopdata.com, the two combine for just 7.2 shot attempts within 9 feet per game. Guys like Zach Randolph and David Lee average that many shots by themselves, plus they can take them further out as well. Too much of the work is being done by MKG, Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, and Byron Mullens (who’s practically a stretch-3 at this point).
As a result, the Bobcats now own a filthy streak stretched longer than John Goodman’s soiled drawers: 13-straight losses and no stain-remover in sight.
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