I should first say that I’m totally in favor of playing Hakim Warrick over Tyrus Thomas whenever it’s humanly possible, and probably also when it’s possible for cyborgs, androids, mutants, Vulcans, Terminators, Robocops, UniSols, replicants, and robots with human brains. Thomas has been an abject failure for the Bobcats, and Warrick is better than him in most meaningful offensive categories: TS% (.472 to .396), PER (11.8 to 8.7), RB% (10.8 to 9.8), AST% (8.7 to 7.0). Thomas does have an edge defensively—the Bobcats are 5.4 points stingier per 100 possessions with Thomas on the floor, vs. .3 points for Warrick; Thomas allows a defensive PER of 17.6 compared to Warrick’s 18.6; and Thomas is a superior shot blocker (in fact, Warrick apparently couldn’t block a shot if you pegged the ball directly at his groin). But I would gladly fork over that 1.0 PER for the privilege of never having to see Thomas hoist those hopeless 20-footers, especially when you throw in Warrick’s ability to get to the foul line. So, good move, coach Dunlap for going all in on Hakim.
But oh lord in heaven did Warrick cough it up like a Beijing street urchin at the worst possible time last night against the Sacramento Kings. With the game tied at 90 and about a minute-and-a-half left, Warrick fumbled a pass, had it stolen by Isaiah Thomas, and then chased down Tyreke Evans on the fast break for a goaltend. That’s right: a turnover and a goaltend in one sequence; it was the ol’ Bismack-two-for-one. He then rattled out a pretty makeable 7-footer that was rebounded by the Kings, and after an iffy-Kemba Walker shooting foul, Thomas sank both free throws to effectively end the game.
Warrick was certainly not all to blame for this. After getting to a 90-88 lead, the Bobcats committed a shot-clock violation, missed a 5-footer, followed up with Warrick’s misadventures, and bumbled their way to a final desperation 3-point attempt from Kemba Walker that got nothing but air. This was all set up by a 26-for-38 performance at the foul line. The foul shooting percentage itself was bad, but you could argue that their bigger crime was not shooting enough foul shots. In fact, I will argue it: the Cats got into the bonus with about 8 minutes to play in the third quarter and an amazing 9:30 to go in the 4th quarter. But I counted just 7 attempts after they went into the bonus in the 3rd and a pathetic 5 post-bonus attempts in the 4th quarter. Only AIG mismanages their bonuses worse than the Bobcats.
These are the ones that hurt the most, because the Bobcats were at home against a road-weary West Coast team with more internal squabbling than the Bundys. And the Bobcats’ bigs did a collectively decent job handling the Kings’ biggest threat, DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins, the Kings’ volatile big man, is young and hazardous if mismanaged, but he has the potential to be a game-changer; he’s the NBA-equivalent of fracking. Last night, he needed 19 shots to get 17 points, and he very nearly got himself thrown out. After getting called for a blocking foul, he spent the next 30 seconds staring at the ref like the little kid in Looper; I half expected everyone on the court to freeze and levitate before self-combusting. Cousins only had 10 quiet rebounds, 0 blocks, 5 turnovers, and 4 fouls. Unfortunately, Marcus Thornton of all people came off the bench and did more damage than a fake dead girlfriend hoax, scandalizing the Bobcats for 18 points. And James Johnson of all other people came in and had three huge offensive boards, all three of which the Kings capitalized on with dunks.
All in all, it was another torturous loss to a beatable team. And the Bobcats didn’t even play Gana Diop, forcing me to have to work for my lame jokes rather than lazily falling back my vast reserve of Diop one-liners. I’m more frustrated than Gana Diop with a malfunctioning McRib locator.
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