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.
Obviously John Salmons had a lot to do with it. Salmons spawned a 19-point 3rd quarter hatchery of points, including 4-of-7 3-pointers, including a 4-point play. To be fair to the Bobcats, their defense wasn’t completely calamitous; Salmons did just seem to be making everything that came his way. And his production didn’t come completely out of nowhere, either. In fact, because I’m completely insane, I had watched the Kings play the Hornets a few days earlier, and Salmons had gone off in that one, too, hitting five 3’s in the third quarter (note: I made up the part about being completely insane; the real reason I was watching that game was because I have no friends).
But even before Salmons went off about halfway through the 3rd quarter, the Bobcats were already trailing by 22. So I ask you again, Zoltar, why were they so much more hideous than normal, why!? “We caught them on a bad night and today was our day,” said Kings reserve center Chuck Hayes afterward (FYI, he was referring to the same game, which was played entirely in the late evening, local time). I guess that’s all the explanation we’re going to get. But suffice it to say that a “bad night” for the Bobcats is like a “bad night” for Nakatomi Tower, one in which the team shoots 36% and allows 47%.
Also, no doubt adding to the pain for Charlotte fans would be that this God-forsaken biblical monstrosity of a locus-plagued firstborn son infanticide/Bobcats game came after a Sunday ABC matinee slate featuring the Knicks-Heat and the Clippers-Thunder. Think about that: LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Chandler, Melo, CP3, Griffin, Durant, Westbrook—those are some of the most awesome basketball forces ever assembled. So going from that to our game was like going from the Louvre museum to a finger-painting class in a mental institution.
And thus the following night’s 17-point loss to the Blazers looked like Game 7 of the 1970 Knicks-Lakers Finals in comparison. We lost Byron Mullens after just 3 minutes to a knee injury, leaving a big gap in the team’s defensively-useless big man category. Enter Josh McRoberts. McRoberts must have thought he could have filled Mullens’ shoes with all of the long-range shots he took, and he was exactly right because he missed most of them. Otherwise, Charlotte’s defense was abominable, especially when it came to Portland SG Nicolas Batum, who was either strapped with an anti-gravity belt or the Bobcats just didn’t bother to cover him, because every single shot he took was wide open. The Blazers shot just under 60% as a team and assisted on 29 makes while turning it over just 11 times, and as a consequence of the last two games the Bobcats are finally tied with Sacramento for 30th in defensive efficiency. This obviously isn’t good news but at least allows me to stop imagining how any other team could possibly be worse.
The Bobcats crawl back home Wednesday to play the Brooklyn Nets, where Thomas will presumably be waiting for them. Will he be freed up enough to at least join the team on the bench? I think so, although maybe not because Dunlap has a sudden change of heart. In fact, these last several games were so bad and the Bobcats have looked so dreadful that if coach Dunlap really wants to punish Thomas he should threaten to make him watch.
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