Had I more room in that headline, I would have also added “And Duke Results From 3 Days Ago.” That’s how far down we’ve been sucked into this sinkhole of a season. The Bobcats, after losing by 21 points to a severely disinterested Brooklyn Nets team, are about to wrap up two complete two seasons that I wish I could just DVR and tell myself I’ll binge-watch on some random weekend in August but probably won’t (coincidentally, this is also how I feel about American Horror Story).
At least we got to see old flame Gerald Wallace in action. Crash had a throwback night, collecting 8 points, 5 blocks, 2 steals, and 8 rebounds. He was unfortunately tripped up by 1-of-7 shooting before he later was literally tripped up by Ben Gordon in a possibly intentional move. If the Bobcats can’t get out of their own way, it would at least be nice if they could get out of other players’ way, especially when they’re former Cats. And speaking of which, Keith Bogans knocked down two 3-pointers. Longtime Cats fans will remember Mr. Bogans averaging 9.6 PPG for us back in 2004-5, often acting as a nice floor-spacing complement for Wallace. Ah, that lovely 2004-5 season…there was so much promise! Emeka Okafor anchoring the frontcourt and putting in a runner-up ROY season, the excitement of two top-10 draft picks, 50-Cent’s The Massacre…it was great. G-UNIT!
Nowadays, it’s a different story. It’s like Bernie Bickerstaff left the bench and suddenly our promising little institution turned into Lean On Me. Witness the Bobcats’ 9-point 3rd quarter last night that eradicated a 10-point halftime lead and had fans crying out safety words. The Nets threw up 11-of-16 shooting while the Bobcats threw up on themselves, giving a William Hung, so-bad-it’s-almost-admirable 3-of-16 shooting performance. Check out the Bobcats’ half of this third quarter shot chart (courtesy of ESPN.com); it’s got more exes than Liz Taylor:
According to Nets Coach PJ Carlesimo, the difference between the Nets in the first and second halves “was passion, not effort. We didn’t play with near the same passion that we did in the second half.” I really don’t know what that means, and I don’t want to know, but whatever the case, in the second half the Nets passionately outscored the Bobcats 56-25, made burning love to the boards by outrebounding the Bobcats 31-11, and thrust themselves eagerly into defense by allowing just 6 Bobcats points in the paint.
Credit Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap for staying calm and not throwing anything, such as Ben Gordon’s head into a wall. Gordon went an obscene 2-of-9 in the second half and finished with 3 turnovers and zero assists. Despite the lack of quality in Gordon’s quantity, I’m glad coach Dunlap seems to have patched things up with Ben. Gordon’s a relentless tweeter of positive aphorisms—it’s about the only thing he does more consistently than miss long-range jumpers—and thus I don’t sense any nihilistic bad blood in his personality. It’s also good to see Josh McRoberts being given enough rope to hang himself. McRoberts played 25 minutes last night, which was more than enough time for him to shoot 1-for-5. Depressingly, his production compares favorably to Jeff Adrien’s. And he did have 6 rebounds and 5 assists, so here you go, Josh, here’s some more rope—I mean, minutes.
This is all a bunch of Titanic furniture-polishing anyway. The Bobcats have allowed the third-most 3-pt attempts and the second-worst 3-pt percentage—and that, even more than our bleak offense, is what’s causing so much pain. I’m tempted to chalk up the 3-point defenselessness to our undersized guards, which might be true for games like last night, when Kemba Walker on Derron Williams looks like the Hulk being covered by Fiona Apple. But last year our guard size was worse with DJ Augustin, yet we were 9th in 3-pointers allowed and 22nd in 3P%. So the difference is a matter of scheme, not personnel, and that falls on coach Dunlap’s paint-packing and zoning. Hopefully coach adjusts his strategy before we all start pining for the glory of the Sam Vincent Era.
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