TD Garden might as well have been renamed “The Last Arena on The Left” last night, as the Bobcats were sadistically snuffed out in a blowout that bordered on exploitative, 105-88. The victory enabled the Celtics to avenge their unsettling defeat at the hands of those same marauding Bobcats earlier in the week. The final margin was only 17 points, but Paul Pierce sat for the entire 4th quarter and Kevin Garnett never played. Nonetheless, the Celtics spit on the Bobcats’ grave by shooting almost 52% from the field and hitting 10-15 3-pointers. “I thought defensively it was pretty disappointing,” Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap understated afterward. “I think we’re a better defensive team.” It’s unclear why he would think that, considering the Bobcats are the league’s worst team in defensive efficiency, according to teamrankings.com, allowing 1.075 points-per-possession. Oh wait, I see last night they allowed 1.132 PPP, so technically I guess he’s right; the Bobcats are a better defensive team—I take it back, coach!
It’s no secret that the Charlotte Bobcats have an embarrassing front-court. Bismack Biyombo can block shots and rebound, but he’s not an elite defender yet and is woeful on offense. Byron Mullens has has quality range on a smooth jumper and can hit the boards, but can’t play defense worth a lick and is possibly the least efficient starter in the NBA.
I’d waste my time talking about Brendan Haywood, Tyrus Thomas and newly acquired Josh McRoberts, but, well, I’d be literally wasting my (and your) time.
The simple fact is the Bobcats aren’t good enough in the paint. One way or another, they need to get bigger, stronger, more explosive, and more effective. Simply getting a little scarier might be fine, too.
The Charlotte Bobcats are no-doubt celebrating(?), after having beaten the Boston Celtics last night to pick up their 14th win. And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, they went out and signed journeyman’s journeyman Jannero Pargo. Pargo’s role will primarily be to replace Ramon Sessions as Kemba Walker’s backup, and secondarily it will be to give Ben Gordon another option to avoid before hoisting a 3-point attempt.
But let’s talk about Pargo another time, like after he’s released in a month. For now, how about win number XIV?! As everyone who saw the game on TV will tell you, they quickly changed the channel once they realized that NCIS: Los Angeles wasn’t a rerun. No, I’m kidding, everyone will of course tell you that the story of the game was Gerald Henderson, who drove to the lane more aggressively than Mel Gibson after being cut off by a car full of black people pulling out of a synagogue. I counted five field goals in the paint for G-Hen, including—and I mean this entirely non-cynically—really, I do—an astonishing up-and-under layup in the first quarter (right after Byron Mullens blew an alley-oop, which was not at all astonishing; in fact, it was non-stonishing). I remember this play vividly, because not only did Henderson hang in the air longer than a fart in a crowded elevator, but he cut me off mid-Mullens-curse-out. He also bailed the Bobcats out with a jumper at the end of the half, he was a perfect 12-of-12 from the line, he finished with a career-high 35 points, he played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and he held Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee to a combined total of just 20 points. All in all, the man worked harder than the air freshener on Lil Wayne’s tour bus. Bravo.
Only the Bobcats could make Martell Webster look like an unstoppable offensive force. The career journeyman connected on 4-of-8 3-pointers for 20 points, enabling the Wizards to humiliate the Bobcats, 104-87. The loss extended the Bobcats’ North American Humiliation Tour to 10-straght games on Saturday, thanks to Webster, as well as Trevor Ariza, who jumped off the bench like it was covered with pigeon turds and scored 26 points. Webster and Ariza had plenty of open looks, because the Bobcats were busy trying—and failing—to stop Washington center Nenê, who burned them down low like a Brazilian wax. Nenê’s stats—19/8/4 with 2 blocks—weren’t staggering, but his frequent body checks into Kemba Walker sure were, and the Brazilian’s overall dominance stripped the Bobcats of any hair of a chance in this one (he finished with a game high +26).
This wipeout followed the previous night’s shenanigans in Charlotte, where the Bobcats bowed down to the awesome glory of Hashim Thabeet and his backups, the Oklahoma City Thunder. As expected, Thabeet led his still-developing supporting cast with 4-of-6 shooting, at times showing his impatience with their overall lack of skills and maturity. The good news for the Bobcats was that they improved upon their previous results with the Thunder by 51%; the bad news was that this meant they still lost by 22 points.
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!
The Charlotte Bobcats are in a bad way. But hopefully, another painful season is the stepping stone toward great future success. After all, the Bobcats already stock-piled Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the past two seasons, and could be just another young talent and a stable veteran away from getting back to competitive basketball.
That’s the hope, at least.
While it’s pretty clear the Bobcats biggest issue lies in their frontcourt, they’ll simply have to take the best overall talent come draft day. That is how teams truly get better, after all.
Charlotte is currently the worst team in the NBA. In fact, they’re in the cellar by a good four games and counting. Maybe it was by design. Judging by their average talent, though, I’m actually guessing it’s just how it naturally should have been.
The bad news is that doesn’t even guarantee them the top pick in the draft. However, as they stand, they have the best odds to emerge from The Lottery to hold the number one overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, and there’s a pretty good chance they’d spend it on Kansas guard Ben McLemore if they did.
Things can change between now and June, but for the moment, let’s speculate whether or not taking McLemore would be the right move.
According to Rick Bonnell, Tyrus Thomas didn’t even join the team on the latest West Coast road trip. I find this stunning, considering that coach Dunlap has shown he’ll still play guys who are willfully insubordinate (Ben Gordon) or who are willfully trying to eat their way onto a future season of The Biggest Loser (DeSagana Diop). As I gaze at Thomas’s image on my cubicle calendar, trapped in 2-D purgatory like Zod, Ursa, and Nod in Superman II, his hand held aloft—in all likelihood acknowledging to referees that he was the one who committed the personal foul—is that a twinge of pity I feel for the man?
Perhaps, but more likely it’s the twinge of my hands on my stomach as I try to suppress my own vomit. The road trip the Bobcats just completed was the worst one I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve Tom Green. How on earth the Bobcats found themselves trailing by 41 to the Sacramento Kings—who it should be noted were playing without the use of cyborgs—is a question I’d pose to Zoltar if I had a wish.