(Courtesy Chuck Burton, AP)
Hey look, Ben Gordon. Has he taken on bodybuilding while he hasn't been playing? Look at those Guns!
We’re now two years removed from the awful 7-59 record that will plague this franchise until it is somehow beaten by another team. With that in mind, every Bobcats win can be considered an improvement—or at least a step in the right direction--even a win over the 2-12 Bucks. You read that correctly; the Milwaukee Bucks have only won 2 games. That’s a bad way to start a season. But when the Bobcats are able to do what they’re supposed to do—which is winning games like these—there’s really not much to be in a fuss or worry about. For the most part, this game was a battle between two bad teams, except, one was way worse than the other.
The Bobcats took a 24-20 lead early at the end of the 1st quarter, and never looked back. Once they got up 37-24 in the 2nd, the game was totally in their hands. From there, the defense was smothering the Bucks, and the frontcourt was getting demolished (Charlotte outrebounded Milwaukee 54-38). Charlotte was able to hold the Bucks to 33% shooting from the field, and if you do that to any team, you’re sure to have success. Overall, this was a well-rounded victory for the Cats, and hopefully it will inspire them to become a much more consistent and well-rounded team. They may not be a playoff team just yet, but when you blowout a team you’re supposed to blowout, things are getting better.
Interestingly enough, MKG sat out with a foot injury. Equally interesting was Milwaukee’s decision to sit their defensive monster, Larry Sanders. Caron Butler didn’t play as well, citing a sore left knee as the issue, and after adding him to the list of players who didn’t play, you’ve got to wonder if both of the teams took a more relaxed approach to their gameplans. The MKG injury doesn’t worry me that much, but his production and development do a bit. While I do believe that MKG is a good player for us, and I do love his potential and hustle, the Bobcats were/are in dire need of young players who can perform and produce at an NBA level virtually instantly. MKG would be a great pick for a team like San Antonio—where he can just sit on the bench and develop—but when you consider that he has a lot of learning to do, added to the unneeded pressure of being the number 2 pick, all combined with becoming a keystone player for a struggling franchise, it all doesn’t really help his case.
Enter Al Jefferson. The team signed him because he is able to make a real impact on this team instantly. Al finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, all on 11-18 shooting. If there’s one thing the Bobcats need to do for the rest of the season, it has to be giving the ball to Al a lot more. Tonight was a good night, and if I were the coach, I’d want Al to take at least 15 shots a game. Why? Simply because he’s our best player. There’s no way around that. When Al is having a good night, it really shows for the whole team. 10 of his points came in the 4th quarter, which is exactly what we need him to do. Granted, Al did go up against a Milwaukee frontcourt that consisted of original-Bobcat Zaza Pachulia, and Khris Middleton, so his success was quite expected, but Al really has a chance to take his career numbers to a different level here in Charlotte. If he can consistently give us 20 points and 12 rebounds—which is completely doable—I think there will be serious all-star talks around January.
Another interesting development of the night was that Bismack played 20 minutes, and in that time, Biz was able to swallow 14 rebounds. Once again, Biz was boxing out Khris Middleton as opposed to Larry Sanders, but getting such solid production from a player as polarizing as Biz, on any night, is a great thing. It’s great to see him do well, because he’s such a high-energy player. He can really become the energy spark for this team with his shot-blocking and rebounding, but there will always be the cloud of expectations that come with being the 7th pick in the draft. It’s such a shame too, because he has such great potential to be a real anchor for a defense. His length is incredible, and his athleticism is deadly. He has improved tremendously from his rookie season, and when you consider that he’s had 3 coaches in 3 years, it’s not hard to see why his development hasn’t taken any huge leaps. But the Biz that played tonight was rebounding well, not fouling, and finishing easy layups. Biz finished with 7 points off 3-4 shooting, and he also got a block. If he was doing this every night, there would be a lot more Biz fans out there. The problems that he will face his whole career will always be that “he shouldn’t have gone that high”, or “wow, he’s not an NBA player”, but I choose to look at it differently: when a young player hasn’t had any type of consistency from their team/organization, it’s really tough for them to succeed. Biz, like MKG, would really flourish on a team where he was allowed time to mature and develop into the player he will be, as opposed to being held to the expectation that he can instantly contribute to a team. It’s a shame really, but it’s reality. Until Biz is able to become consistent, there will always be haters, but for now, I’ll take his success in limited minutes.
Hold on, Bobcats fans, not only are we nearly the Hornets, but we are also making the right moves towards success. It’s only a matter of time until this team becomes a consistent unit, and when they do, they will be competitive night-in and night-out. Tonight was an easy win for them, and that’s exactly what it should have been.