Not a pretty night
While sniffing about on the web today and examining various NBA stats I came to realize that life as a Bobcats fan sometimes involves acceptance of so much Karma that “Bobcats” isn’t really an appropriate name for the team at all. No, I haven’t suddenly become a “Bee-liever” and begun advocating the return of the Hornets name to the Queen City. It’s just that with the Bobcats there seems to be a yin for every yang. Perhaps the team should call themselves the Charlotte Sherpas, or perhaps the Charlotte Yogi’s. Aside from the obvious trouble with copyright suits from Hanna Barbera it would be a more fitting choice. For example, they play the Jazz – a team with one of the better frontcourt squads in the league at a time when the Cats have one of the worst. Bobcats “points for” stats have them firmly in the middle of the NBA pack at a time when the Felines “points against” number is the dead worst in the NBA. It’s hard to post wins when opponents average almost 104 points against you. So how did the “yin” of our perimeter shooters fare against the “yang” of the Utah bigs? Unless you’re one of those “the score says it all” people, meet me on the next page to find out!
The festivities began in a civilized enough manner. Utah took the early lead, but the Cats hung right in there with them up to the midpoint of the quarter. It was at that moment that the outside shooters began to light things up for the Jazz. Quickly, Coach Dunlap had to call time out to prevent the Jazz from streaking too far out in front. Thanks to some extremely kind rims that acted like a black hole by sucking in every shot Utah got anywhere close to the basket, the Jazz streaked out to a 24-14 lead.
As they did in the Detroit game, the Cats managed to keep themselves in contention… barely. Utah started to rely on their inside game with great success, but Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson came in from the bench and made almost immediate impacts. As I listened to Steve Martin and Dell Curry talk about how much better Sessions and Henderson are than the majority of bench reserves I started to wonder why (with no offense meant to the man) Jeff Taylor is starting. He’s been a HUGE pleasant surprise as a second round pick, but does he really deserve the starting slot at this point in his career? Regardless, once again the Cats flirted with allowing 30 points in a quarter, but Utah fell shy. At the end of the first the score showed the Jazz riding the lead, 27-20.
The Cats came out on fire in the second, roaring back to tie things up at 29 before the first three minutes could expire. Any thought the Jazz may have had of spending the night on cruise control went out the window as the Cats opened the second with a 9-2 run. Despite having a much ballyhooed advantage over the Cats in the paint, the Jazz were content to continue to rely predominantly on jumpers and long-range shooting to hold Charlotte at bay, with mixed results. Utah slowly began to build up once again but that had as much to do with a small offensive cold snap by the Cats as it did any perimeter shooting accuracy by the Jazz. Once the lead hit double-digits again though, Utah began banging into the paint and posting up once again and Charlotte appeared to have no answers at all. When the horn mercifully announced the arrival of halftime the Jazz were in the driver’s seat and showed no signs of easing up on the throttle. Halftime score; Utah 63, Charlotte 44.
What can be said about the Bobcats in the second quarter? They allowed 36 points. What else needs to be said? Absolutely nothing.
Once again the Cats came out for the second half facing a mighty and steep uphill climb. However, Utah has a far more formidable team than the Detroit Pistons. Michael Kidd Gilchrist led the charge, once again piling up numbers that few if any expected to see from him in his rookie season. Unfortunately, Al Jefferson was scoring at will as he often seems to do whenever his team faces the Bobcats. As the final minute of the third began MKG had a solid 15 points and half-dozen rebounds. Jefferson though, led all comers with a beastly 26 points and 8 boards. It makes a very handsome effort by our rookie look rather anemic in comparison. It was in that final minute of play that Ramon Sessions drew a technical foul and came as close as a person can get to ejection without actually being tossed. In his defense, it looked like a crap call live. After looking at the replay however, it truly appeared to be a crap call of historical levels. Session tore in for a fast break layup. The ball kissed the glass and went up over the cylinder where it was batted away by a Utah defender. No goaltending call was made. The only sound drowning out Ramon’s furious reaction was Steven Martin’s own shrieks of indignation. It was an ugly moment in a very ugly game for Cats fans. At least temporarily, it seemed to take all the wind out of Charlotte’s sails and the quarter ended with the Cats down by seventeen and the Jazz up 90-73.
Ben Gordon was the first of the Cats to come roaring back to life, making the absolute most of his time in a Charlotte uniform. Once again he finished the night as one of 6 Bobcats in double-figures, holing 20 to lead all Cats scorers. The Fighting Felines were able to crawl back into contention, but with no inside defense to speak of, Utah also wound up with 6 players scoring in double-digits and the score never truly grew close enough to make it exciting. Utah easily dispatched the Cats. The final score, with a ten point margin of victory, did little to reflect how completely Utah’s offense dominated the paint. The clock expired with Utah a game over .500; 112 to 102.
Once again, our all offense/no defense approach resulted in some impressive individual stats – especially from the Bobcats bench – but wound up nowhere good enough to capture a win. Utah’s Al Jefferson led all scorers with 26 points and he frankly could have scored a lot more it his teammates had fed him the ball a bit more often instead of settling for jumpers. The Bobcats continued to buck the NBA norm and perform far worse at home than on the road. It doesn’t inspire much of an incentive for the teeming masses to flock to Time Warner. In fact, some of our out of state fans might have better luck cheering the Cats to victory by visiting the nearest NBA arena when Charlotte comes in for a road game.
Speaking of which, the guys will play 4 of their next 5 on the road which normally would be bad news, but because of the way our karma has been this season, might be the best thing that could happen at this point. Next up is a back-to-back as the Cats leave the country to take on the Raptors and then come back to the states hoping to steal one from the Pacers in Indiana. They’ll take Sunday off to travel up to my old stomping grounds against the Celtics in Boston and then be home the next night to play Indiana once again at Time Warner Cable Arena. Yep. Once again we’ll have four games in five nights as the Cats not only struggle with defensive issues, but contend with one of the worst schedules in the NBA on top of it all. Still, looking at the yin/yang aspect of things once again, the Bobcats have always played very well against Toronto and the Raptors 12-22 record isn’t exactly setting the league on fire. Tune in to the TV broadcast on Friday. It could well be your best opportunity to see a Cats victory unless you just happen to be at the Cable Box when the karmic scales tip out of balance and the Charlotte Bobcats once again start to win some games down on Trade Street.