Congrats to Blake Griffin with the Ugly Face of the night award. Love your Kia commercials dude!
It’s the rare year indeed when any team comes in to play the Clippers at this point in the NBA season and has to face a squad sporting over 40 wins. Welcome to the 21st Century NBA. Hopefully everyone was super-duper quiet on the plane and bus and the Bobcats won’t know what’s really happening. If they think they’re facing the same old Clippers just maybe the Cats can surprise the league (and us fans) with a big road win. It sure started out that way. The Clippers – well known for forcing turnovers, coughed up the ball on almost every possession and spotted the red hot Cats a 10-2 lead. Gerald Henderson dropped in 10 of the first 14 Bobcats points in fact. Sadly I blinked and LA had managed to climb back and the score was 14-10. I was almost afraid to take the time to ask y’all to take the jump. Quick! It may be a day after the game for y’all, but I type these “in the moment” as the game’s played and as quickly as the Clippers can pour ‘em in this season we could be down by 20 before I generate a “continue reading” table!
I’ll warn y’all right up front that since this is a weeknight game on the West Coast I’m assuming most of you are in bed by now – or at least on the way (10:54 by my clock) because of morning dates with work and or school, I’ll be a bit more detailed than usual. My goal, as always, is to make you feel like you’re watching a game you had to miss. Since most of you likely had to “sit this one out,” I may be a bit wordier than usual. I apologize in advance to those that burned the midnight oil with me.
The Clippers took advantage of some defensive hesitation by the Cats’ bigs and tied things up at 14 all when DeAndre Jordan was left untouched under the basket. Coach Dunlap called an instant timeout to remind Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Byron Mullens, and Bismack Biyombo how to handle a defensive assignment in the NBA. Since the discussion centered on defense, it became one of those rare times when in which the Cats came out of a timeout and scored a quick basket. In fact, not only did it stop a 12-4 Clippers run, but it completely reversed momentum and the Felines responded with defensive stops and contested shots on defense that enable the good guys to reopen a four point lead. The Clippers fought back, but Kemba Walker nailed a pair of catch-and-shoot treys and the Felines Fought to an eight point lead and a rare 30+ point quarter of their own. LA cut it to six with the final basket of the quarter, but it still wound up being the most competitive and among the best over all quarters the Cats have played this season. Score after the opening frame, Charlotte 30, LA 24.
Initially, it seemed the first quarter set the tone of the game. The Cats would stretch the lead a bit like an actual Bobcat stretching a tight back and the Clippers would tear back to within a couple of points. This would generate some inspired play by Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker, Henderson, or some combination of the same and Charlotte would stretch out once again. This activity repeated itself for a good chunk of the second quarter until Jeffery Taylor came out for a shift and got off to a slow start. Fortunately, Mullens took some advice from Walker and began posting up on his defender. Kemba correctly saw that Mullie had faster feet and as a result went 4 for 5 after settling for jumpers in the first that had him shooting 1 for 4 to start the game. Not only did this make him the first Charlotte big to hit double digit scoring, it made him the first Charlotte big to score at all.
With 3:48 to go in the half, the Clippers intercepted a pass, raced up court, and Chauncey Billups dished to Armstrong and gave the Clippers their first lead at 43-42. Since the officials chose not to comment on the 4 steps Armstrong took on his way to the basket, I guess I won’t either. Oops, too late.
The Clippers are among the best in the league in any number of categories, but notable compared to the past is that they force more turnovers than almost any other NBA team. After a pretty benign first quarter where Charlotte only came up shot-less three times, LA clamped down and got aggressive. In the final minutes of the second quarter the Cats committed 8 turnovers, got frustrated, stopped hustling in transition, and the Clippers kicked on the afterburners. They ran up a 30-point second quarter and made the Cats look helpless with a 10-0 run to close the half – every point the result of a fast break from a steal or some other forced error. I can’t recall the last time I saw a team come so quickly and completely unglued as our heroes did in the final minutes of the half. All those empty possessions not only resulted on 30 Clippers points, it held Charlotte to a mere 15. The word I’m reaching for is, I think, “ouch.” Halftime score; 54-45 Clippers.
You would never know from the statline that Charlotte had controlled the majority of the game. They certainly played better than the nine-point deficit led on. Henderson led the Bobcats scoring with 14 points although Walker (13) and Mullens (10) were hot on his heels. The Cats held the rebounding edge 21-17, but the Clippers were crushing us on assists 20-8. It stinks because despite the crisp passing the Clippers displayed, Charlotte’s defense showed itself to be up to the task for 20 of the first 24 minutes of the game.
Now, before the second half begins, I’m gonna have a soapbox moment. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t care. No offense taken, but this ticked me off and as Peter Griffin once put it, “grinds my gears.”
Five Hour Energy drink commercials have been a riot this season. Their, “what have you done in the past 5 hours” ads are great. There have been several featuring guys that had jumped out of airplanes, become ping pong champs, recorded debut albums, and ran marathons all because of that dinky little bottle of legal speed. So now they finally feature one with a woman. What did she do with her last 5 hours? Well, she made lunch, did some housework, played with the kids, did some more housework, washed the dishes, did still more housework, then did some housecleaning. Is this 2013 or 1953? Big time thumbs-down to the Five Hour people for one of the most sexist ads I’ve ever seen. Guys, you may not give a crap, but just speaking for my own lady and most of the others that I’ve known in my life, they do one heck of a lot more than baby-sit and clean up other people’s crap. Yeah Misty, I’m talking to you too. Most women have jobs AND have to pull a double shift once they got home. No, I’m not saying being a stay at home mom is easy work, I know better. I’m saying that there is more going on in life for even the busiest stay at home mom than just housework and drudgery. These women work at their local churches or temples, volunteer, help at their kids’ schools, help with budgeting and often work at least part time on top of it! Respect your ladies better than the jokers at "Five Hour Energy" does guys. They’re worth the props and thanking them for what they do doesn’t have to cost you a dime. I guarantee you though, if you make certain your lady is remembered and respected; she’ll make sure you’re never forgotten in return. Can I get a witness?
End of rant. We now return you to our regularly scheduled Bobcats struggle.
Let’s open the second half with a question. You needn’t tweet the answer, but feel free to comment if you’d be so kind. How is it that every time an opponent jumps out to a first-half lead of any substance (greater than 4, let’s say) the Bobcats are suddenly able to match baskets for most of the third quarter? They neither gain ground nor manage to truly hold their own. They’ll just trade buckets back & forth for the most part and maybe fall another point further behind because they punched a trey in and we answered with a deuce.
That was the story for most of the third quarter until the Cats hit a small cold snap and the Clippers lead grew to 15 after a couple of one and outs. Gerald Henderson wouldn’t allow that to go unanswered however, raining in 24 points by the midpoint of the quarter. I know he was considered trade bait and there is question as to whether the Cats should resign him, but to me it’s a no-brainer. The man brings it virtually every game and leaves nothing in the tank. I’m often surprised he can walk off the court unassisted after the final buzzer. He’s earned his Claws, Mr. Cho. Open the wallet Mr. Jordan. He’s worth it in almost all the same ways that Walker is. They add up to a one-two punch that’s among the best in the NBA. Secure that backcourt and then buy some support for Mullens up front.
Because of the relentless effort by the Charlotte guards, things didn’t get too ridiculous until the final 4 minutes when the Clippers started to run away with it. The officiating showed the standard home court advantage preventing the Cats from catching a break off of a lucky bounce or whistle. The end result was a peak too steep for even the most nimble of Felines to easily climb. Score after three; 82-63
You know – I was concerned that this recap would reach an even longer than normal length. I wanted to provide every important detail. Here however, is the most important detail that you need. Before the first 3 minutes of the fourth quarter expired the Clippers stretched the lead out to 28 points. Do I really need to devote more bandwidth to play-by-play scoring? I didn’t think so.
Steve and Dell devoted most of the final quarter to discussing the odds facing various Western Conference teams in the playoffs. They completely abandoned all but the most perfunctory attention to calling the actual game in front of them. For Bobcats fans the big thrill was that Josh McRoberts not only scored his first basket as a Bobcats player, he dropped in a pair of treys in a row in the final minutes and capped it with a pair from the stripe to reach double-digits in less than 5 minutes play. Final score? Oh yeah, 106-84.
Top Cats scoring breakdown:
Henderson – 24
Walker – 15
Mullens – 13
Sessions – 11
McRoberts 10 (!)
So the Cats close out February with a grand total of 2 wins. That’s a pain that’s going to linger and continue to bring back ugly flashbacks of last season for a goodly while to boot. Is there such a thing as Post Traumatic Bobcats Fan Syndrome?
So now it’s a leisurely trip to Utah to visit the Latter Day Saints land of plenty on Friday evening. Until then, it’s now officially my turn to snore. Psst! Hey Sandman! Over here! A double on the rocks with a 40-wink catnap chaser! Oh, if you got an extra “This dream has not been rated due to excessive adult content” dream in that back of yours, give it right here! It’s been a rough week.