Wow, I finally feel like I’ve found a team more hopeless than the Bobcats. Though the Phoenix Suns prevailed on Saturday night, 95-89, the game was close until about midway through the 4th quarter. Moreover, the Suns are an old team who could make up their own “What Ever Happened To?” trivia category (with the answers being Grant Hill, Michael Redd, Sebastian Telfair, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick). And in a situation that eerily parallels Phoenix’s housing crisis, the Suns are saddled with terrible contracts and busted prospects. They are also lorded over by Robert Sarver, a hated owner who overpaid for them in the first place and is compensating for it by running them on the cheap (Sarver’s actually managed the impressive feat of being hated more for his association with the Suns than with Western Alliance Bancorporation). Add it all up (or maybe, “subtract it all up”), and I’m honestly happier to be a Charlotte fan, which is something I never thought I would say this season.
Not that this revelation made it any easier to sit through this game. The AP recap focused on the 9-point spark provided by Robin Lopez in the 4th quarter, but to me the real difference-maker was a tactical decision by the Bobcats to constantly double-team Steve Nash and Telfair. For some reason, coach Paul Silas was obsessed with doing this at every chance. Clearly Silas gave these orders to Bismack Biyombo before letting him out of his cage, because Biyombo would be up on Nash/Telfair almost immediately after they crossed half-court, and doing so with the type of energy and passion that he usually reserves for committing personal fouls. This made absolutely no sense to me, because Nash and Telfair are among the few guards who are actually slow and small enough for Kemba Walker to cover. And Nash, being Nash, was smart enough to recognize the double-team and dump the ball off to a now wide open Marcin Gortat or a now wide open Redd; it’s similar to what happens when defenses constantly blitz Tom Brady. Thus, the only reason this game wasn’t more of a blowout was because Gortat went just 5-for-11 (way too many misses, considering all of his shots were in the paint), and the Suns missed 12 wide-open three’s. Indeed, I’m surprised Redd waited so long after his injuries to sign with the Suns; technically he could have played his role while still on crutches; all he had to do was park in a corner and wait.
Finally—and I’ve touched on this before, but now I need give it a full-scale roundhouse: Tyrus Thomas has been an unmitigated disaster. His 3-of-14 shooting on Saturday was breathtakingly bad but not atypical in the least. MJ, I’m begging you, can you show him how to put the ball on the floor so that he stops taking those long-range two’s? Either that or get Charles Oakley to threaten to break one of his wrists if he shoots another one, because his FG% is almost 10% off his career average. That’s not the only element of his game that’s deteriorated, though: his rebounding rate has dropped 29% compared to his high in 2010. Consequently, his PER is almost half of what it was last year, which is exacerbated by the fact that he’s needed now more than ever, considering our lack of offense and our weak perimeter defense. His blocks per game holding up, but getting excited for that is like getting excited for 8.3% unemployment. The only other thing that hasn’t vanished from Thomas’s game is the 4 years and $32M left on his contract. “Subtract it all up,” and the most terrifying aspect of ESPN’s Marc Stein mentioning that the Bobcats might be interested in offloading Thomas on Washington for Andray Blatche was that I had to seriously stop and consider it. I eventually decided that I wouldn’t do it, but only in the sense that I wouldn’t trade you my leaking vat of toxic acid for your nuclear power plant meltdown.