I spent Wednesday night watching the Bobcats get pummeled by the Bulls, and then I had to spend the following morning on the subway watching this guy get pummeled by what smelled like Old Gran Dad. Both visual experiences were equally depressing. It’s just no fun watching people futilely attempt something at which they’re pathetically overmatched—whether it’s being competitive against the probable NBA Eastern Conference finalists or soberly transporting a bag of plastic recyclables.
The totality of the Bulls’ onslaught was impressive: they shot 48%, outrebounded Charlotte by 19, and they passed the ball around like it was gonorrhea, putting up 29 assists against just 9 turnovers. Just as remarkably, they spread the playing time like lard at a Cracker Barrel, with 9 guys getting 20+ minutes. They won by 32 without their reigning MVP, thanks mostly to John Lucas III, the most inspiring “Lucas” since Corey Feldman. Meanwhile, their defense, #1 in efficiency, completely sucked the life out of Charlotte, limiting them to 30% shooting—only if you round up—and clamping down on the few remaining Bobcats scoring threats. Gerald Henderson was held to just 13 points because Ronnie Brewer and Richard Hamilton were in his shorts like a catheter, and the Bulls accelerated Byron Mullens’ steady dissolution as a useful player (3-of-11 from the field and an incredible -38 +/-). All in all, it was an overwhelming display by a dominant team, flexing its championship-contending muscles.
Given such a deflating defeat, the Bobcats looked surprisingly buoyant against the Grizzlies just two days later. First there was the wacky 17-4 start, causing Memphis coach Lionel Hollins to call an early timeout, storm the court, and yell at his kids like Claire Huxtable. Then there was that rarest of things for the Bobcats: athleticism! Gerald Henderson decided to take a trip to someplace he’s never been before: the rim. And what was that flash of white light in the second quarter that came out of nowhere to block Josh Selby’s layup? Why, it was Matt Carroll! There was no reason to expect this game to be competitive, and yet the Bobcats had an 8-point lead going into the 4th quarter.
And unfortunately, that’s when the Grizzlies realized that they’ve won 543% more games than us. Memphis opened up the fourth with a jumper, a slam dunk, and a 3-pointer. After the two teams muddled around for the next few minutes to tie it up at 71, the Bobcats unleashed a staggering array of turnovers and missed shots: first Henderson’s feet had a fight with the sideline and lost, then Kemba Walker passed the ball directly to the Grizzlies on two consecutive possessions, leading to two straight Grizzly fast break dunks (also leading Bobcats fans to wonder if he’ll ever be as effective at creating fast breaks with his own team). Two Walker clanks and an ill-advised Derrick Brown shot later, and the Bobcats were out of business faster than Rich Ross, with the turnovers and bad shots being our John Carter.
That leaves us with four games to play, but with some critical questions still left unanswered. Will the team get at least one win? Will Jamario Moon make at least one basket? Will Moon’s PER (currently -2.9) break the positive-barrier? Has Tyrus Thomas actually been let out of the locker that Paul Silas shoved him in? I’m still hoping the answer to all of these is “yes.” Well, maybe not the last one.