Gordon reaches to untie Johnson's shoe as Johnson tries to stop him.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats lost their 10th game in a row tonight. The Hawks did everything right, and our Bobcats look like they’ve lost their mojo on the court. For those who don’t want to read past this brief summary, I’ll let you know that the Bobcats lost 113 – 90. The Hawks shot near 60% from the floor and made 14 of their 29 3-point attempts. The Bobcats, on the other hand, struggled the entire game with 30% shooting, but they finally climbed to 43% on the night. We were 6-21 from 3-point land, and we let everyone that had a Bobcats uniform, play tonight. If you’re curious how we got to where we finished, read on…
We could not muster a single quarter where we weren’t outscored tonight. Our best effort was in the 3rd, where we were able to tie the Hawks with 31 points. After that, we went ice cold and only could squeeze out 16 more points on the night. I’m not going to share the usual box scores for the night because they look pretty much like they have for the past 10 games. No 20-point scorers. We had 4 players in double figures, and we are continuing to see our rookies learning. We can see that Biyombo is slowly improving and Diop is even showing slight improvement. I’m going to award a Trade Street Post Game-breaker award to a guy who isn’t showing big numbers in the box score yet. It’s what he’s doing on the floor that earns this one. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is so much more than just a player that can put up numbers. He’s on the floor, firing up the team during timeouts, even before the coach can get to the rest of the guys. He’s getting frustrated with missed plays. He’s pushing the ball harder and harder, looking for teammates to join in the attack. Even when they were down 20, he was doing all he could to get life into a lifeless team. I also give honorable mention to Jeff Taylor. He’s starting to learn just what all he can do in the NBA. Where we have seen him hit 3-pointers early into the season, I saw a drive to the basket tonight that makes me wonder if he’s starting to figure out how athletic and fast he can be on the floor. He shot 50% from the floor tonight and was perfect from the foul line. These 2 guys are cornerstones of this team as we move forward.
Let me be a coach for a little bit. I have my concerns about our Bobcats team. Way too often, someone is always left open for a 3-point shot. I blame zone defense for this. When we go into a zone, it starts out OK, but very quickly, the zone starts shrinking into the paint. They get tighter and tighter, and eventually, all 5 guys are practically under the basket. At that point, a 3-pointer is either uncontested, or a long 2 is shot, and no one is out far enough to get a rebound. We’re going to have to let go of the zone defense. We need to go man-to-man for a while. We were supposed to be a hard to scout team (at least that is what Coach Dunlap wanted us to be). We have guys who can shoot and we have guys who can score in the paint. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but we suddenly stopped doing both well. We aren’t getting to the foul line enough. The biggest reason for that is because we aren’t driving to the basket. The ones that are driving are getting blocked. Sessions made a good living at averaging 18pts a game during the first 12-13 games of this season. Now, the teams we play just wait on his drive and block his shots. Kemba still squirts in there and gets a few lay-ups, but they know what he likes to do once he penetrates, and they are shutting down passing lanes and forcing bad shots. As far as bad shots go, tonight at least, Kemba went back to those bad, off-balance shots. He’s not squared up to the basket, and he’s fading away. Sometimes you just have to go back to the drawing board. Ben Gordon has someone all over him from the minute he comes off of the bench until he sits back down. Byron Mullens game is becoming more and more rounded, but when he’s not got his jumper going, he’s not drawing his defender out. When that’s not happening, bad things happen.
We have talent on this team. We have athleticism on this team. The problem is that we started this season against a lot of weak teams. Did that build some confidence and possibly make us think we were better than we actually were? I believe it did. The problem is that this losing streak is bringing back bad memories from last season, which dampens their confidence. It also tries to poison the minds of our rookies. I actually believe that MKG and Gordon are immune to that poison. If they can get the antidote to the rest of the guys, we’ll be OK. Henderson has been great coming off of the bench behind Taylor, but I don’t know if that is the best option for us at this time. We need something new. We need that different game plan where the opposing team stands and scratches their heads at what we’re doing. If that means we need to switch up the starting lineup again, then we go there. Maybe we run a game or 2 with Jeff Adrien as starting PF. Let Mullens come off of the bench. Mullens just looks tired right now. Haywood looks tired too. It is obvious that our weakest area is the PF and C spots. By weak, I don’t mean that we have no talent there…we just have inexperience, or old legs (sorry to Diop and Haywood on the old legs comment). Anything we can do to get those guys rest, we need to do it.
Here is my suggested starting lineup for our next game against the Orlando Magic, who has players down with injury. Keep in mind that they have a weak team right now and it would be a great opportunity to get our guys a breather, and time to regroup before we go on our west coast swing. Start the game with this line-up:
Sessions at PG
Henderson at SG
Taylor at SF
Adrien at PF (someone to wear Big Baby down)
Biyombo at C
Shortly into the game, you switch to:
Biggest thing for us to work on with this team is to not allow Redick to get hot. It isn’t like they have a ton of 3-point shooters, but with every loss that we have had, 3-pointers have amounted to the bulk of the other team’s points.
I’m no coach, and Dunlap is. I know he has a plan, and I know he can get the guys to execute. We just have to get past that #7 win. Once we get #8, maybe we can keep rolling. Either way, as long as our rookies and sophomores continue to improve, the Bobcats will be in good shape for the long term.
Let’s Go CATS!