Kemba tries to do it all against the Warriors
Hi y’all. It’s me, your tired typist burning the midnight oil so you don’t have to. If you watched the game and are coming here just to read my take on it, thanks to both of you! (No really, we see the numbers and thanks for making us successful. We’re here for you, but more importantly we’re here because of you!) Our Bobcats tangle with one of the elite Western Conference teams on the west coast this time. Charlotte area fans place a lot of the credit for that success at the feet of Del Curry’s son Stephen – and with good reason. But to think this team is a one-player-wonder would be a mistake. The Bobcats have always played to the level of the competition so it’s not a complete fantasy to believe that the game would be competitive. Was it? Well…
The Cats showed some offensive aggression in the very early minutes and caught the Warriors a bit by surprise. After trading threes the Felines climbed out to a quick 7-3 lead. Tough defense by the GSW got them back into the flow in a hot hurry and they stormed ahead 13-7… briefly. Michael Kidd Gilchrist continued the offensive hustle he displayed in Phoenix and ran in a pair of fast break baskets. Gerald Henderson made it a six-point run to tie it up. During the pregame Gerald admitted to Steve Martin that his “healed” injury is still sore and will likely remain that way for the rest of the season because there is no such thing as rest in the NBA. True that, especially if you play for the Bobcats, who continue to be treated like the red-headed stepchild by NBA schedulers. (four game weeks three weeks in a row? Four games in five nights on the West Coast? Yikes!) While we’re on the topic, a reason wasn’t given but Ben Gordon was announced as DNPCD before the tipoff. At the end of the first, it was finally announced that he was experiencing some “knee soreness” and wouldn’t be sidelined long. The Warriors started to assert control over the boards in a big way (15-5 after one) and that led the way to a first quarter Golden State lead of 31-23.
The second quarter began with the Bobcats reserves doing some more the old “one & out” quick-step and the lead was soon in double-digits. It was at this point in Phoenix where the Cats simply fell apart like an I-Pad under a sledge hammer. Not this time. With five minutes remaining in the half the Bobcats, led by MKG and Kemba Walker at the scoring end and a hustling Byron Mullens on defense, scratched their way to within 3 points. Word of Kemba Walker has definitely spread around the league. Every time the ball found its way into his hands on the perimeter he drew double coverage. It didn’t matter. He quickly racked up 4 assists and booked 4 out of 5 treys. He was beasting it.
At the other end of the floor Stephen Curry showed that the best way to answer that kind of impressive play is to match it. With a flurry of his own Stephen led the charge once again. When the horn announced halftime Stephen had hit 5 of 7 from the arc on the way to scoring 15 and added 5 assists. The Warriors knew they had a real battle on their hands, but they didn’t get that winning record by luck. The Halftime score was 58-49 in favor of Golden State.
At some point the Cats players are going to have to completely buy in to the “defense wins championships” mentality. Night after night they get a new version of the same lesson. You cannot outscore opponents in the NBA if you give up almost 60 points per half and regularly allow 30+ points in a quarter. As they say out here in trailer park land, “that dawg won’t hunt.” As much fun as it is to watch a pair of young and still improving NBA stars like Kemba and Stephen go at it, you need to win games once in a while. The rebounding gap was equally painful – 28 to 19 Warriors. On the plus side, the Cats were holding on to the ball well. In the first half they only committed 4 turnovers.
The Cats held their own for much of the third. Kemba notched yet another 20-plus point game and although the lead didn’t want to shrink, it didn’t turn into another blowout either. Stephen Curry seemed to slow down his shooting, but he started dishing the ball like soup in a shelter. With just under five remaining there was a truly bizarre play. Curry drove the paint and drew a foul as he dished the ball ahead. David Lee dunked the ball and the foul was called. The thing is, Lee was never touched and Curry went to the line for the free throw. Uh… he never took the shot. The refs reviewed the call and let it stand. I guess it’s one of God’s mysteries.
This seemed to take the wind out of the Cats’ sails. The lead started to grow once again and with two to go Charlotte had fallen by 16 points. You could see Kemba growing very frustrated at the defensive end. He began yelling at his teammates to tighten up and play better against the pick & roll. Try as they might however, the Bobcats couldn’t manage to chop the lead down to single digits before the end of the quarter, although they did gain ground. They stepped up for the fourth trailing 76-89.
Early in the fourth, Gerald Henderson banged his shin and went down hard. He limped off the court, leaving a gaping hole in the Bobcats hopes for a comeback. Golden State got hot in a hurry and in a flash had stretched the lead to 17. Charlotte started to once again close the lead and at the midway mark a somewhat tender (and padded) Gerald Henderson came back on to the court. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen this movie enough times over the past year that I could have told him to rest and heal. David Lee, the recipient of many a defensive over-play gift from the Cats ran up a triple double with 23 points and 11 boards and assists each. Curry wound up with his second game in a row with at least 7 treys. The Warriors wound up with 5 players in double figure scoring and this ended as many would have predicted with Charlotte’s 14th loss in a row. Final carnage, Warriors 115, Charlotte 100.
There really was little for Cats fans to celebrate in Oakland tonight. MKG was one of 5 Bobcats in double figures (joining Kemba, Gerald, Biz, and Ramon.) but once again, you can’t win in this league with offense alone. The guys played every bit as hard as you would expect – although Byron Mullens had a truly tough night with a scoreless effort. They simply aren’t good enough yet to run with the league elite – especially when the schedule is so brutal that it feels like all you do is get on & off the plane in order to get on and off the court. As the weight of consecutive losses gets heavier you can see the shoulders of our future stars bending lower under the burden. Next up is tomorrow’s game in Denver – 3 hours earlier with the time difference. It’s very likely that barring a Christmas miracle it will be at least another week before the guys crash through that unexpectedly tough threshold and earn win number 8 for the season.