Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Chicago 11/07/09
Aside from the fact that the Bobcats lost, this was easily their best road game of the season coming after blowouts @Boston and @Cleveland. Charlotte had many opportunities to win this one but the ugly truth reared its head again in the 4th quarter as the Bobcats had no answer on the offensive end after the Bulls went on a late 3rd quarter rampage. Chicago outscored the ‘Cats 27-17 in the third after being down 53-46 at the half. With the team on the road, time dwindling and in need of some key baskets, the Bobcats turned to… You guessed it! Everybody Loves Raymond.
1. A Chunky Cucumber Blizzard
I finally figured it out. Raymond, I mean. Why he’s so divisive amongst the Bobcats faithful.
It’s because he’s neither terrible or incredible, rather he is sometimes incredible and sometimes terrible. Often within the same 2-3 minutes span. He’s kind of like ordering a Chunky Cucumber Blizzard from Dairy Queen. You take a bite and you get all tasty ice cream and you’re like, “Wow! That’s good!” And then the next bite you get a nice sour, crunchy chunk of cucumber and you want to vomit. But you are still hungry and in need of food and there’s always hope that the next bite will be cucumber free so you take another but you are not safe. There is going to be more vomit inducing cucumber chunks in there somewhere. Just wait.
Tonight was a quintessential Raymond Felton game. Played very good defense, dished out 10 assists, hit a few key baskets when the team needed one but totally pooed the bed by going 5-17 from the field and looked “Emeka Okafor Level Uncomfortable” during the closing minutes of the game as he forced shot after shot. When the Bobcats are down in the 4th and Raymond starts driving and forcing off-balance twos, just turn off the TV or leave the arena ’cause there is no chance that the ‘Cats are going to win. I don’t even blame Raymond. He’s just doing what the coach tells him to do and since the Bobcats have no other “scoring option” late in the game, then Raymond gets the nod. Someone like Rip Hamilton or Ray Allen would do wonders for Raymond’s career. Hopefully we get to witness something like this in the near future.
2. Turnovers, Turnovers
How can you possibly have a chance of winning on the road when you commit 17 TOs? The Bobcats forced the Bulls into 21 turnovers and had they not, Charlotte would’ve been blown out of this game. The Bobcats starting lineup (sans Tyson Chandler) came up with 8 steals and blocked three shots. The team really hustled on defense for pretty much the entire game and I commend Larry Brown on instilling this team with an “A+ Level” defense. They’d be a Playoff lock if they could just score consistently.
For all of the talk about Raja Bell and Flip Murray putting trade rumors to rest, the duo combined for 6-24 shooting from the field and a total of 16 points. They probably aren’t as good as they were last night against the Hawks but they are definitely not as bad as they were tonight against the Bulls. Ouch.
Joakim Noah torched the Bobcats tonight, btw. When Noah nets 21pts and 16 boards you know pretty much what’s going on: Bobcats are sticking tight to the Bulls perimeter players and Noah is just jumping over and out-hustling Charlotte in the paint. It also doesn’t hurt that both Chandler and Nazr Mohammed were both in foul trouble early in the second quarter so Joakim found himself boxing out Vlad Radmanovic a lot. Watching Noah, you would think that he’s kind of the perfect Center for the Bobcats should the team ever pursue him in free agency or via trade. He hustles, goes after loose balls and is an incredible offensive rebounder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wears a Bobcats uniform one day.
3. Accent-u-ate the Positive
Boris Diaw and Vlad Radmanovic put in solid offensive performances for the ‘Cats though Diaw’s 6 turnovers were a stain on an otherwise solid evening. Boris dropped in 20pts, 7rbs and 5asts and the Radman looked comfortable behind the arc getting all of his 12pts there on 4-7 shooting. And even though D.J. Augustin was noticeably M.I.A. during the game (0pts in 11 minutes), it is baffling why Coach Brown didn’t insert both D.J. and Radmanovic on the Bobcats last play of regulation.
Down three with just under 10 seconds to go and Larry Brown decides that a combination of Flip, Diaw (decent 3-point shooters), Raymond, Crash and Chandler (terrible shooters) would give the ‘Cats their best option to tie the game. Completely inexplicable. Raja, Radman and D.J. were sitting on the bench and inserting those guys into the lineup (playing Boris at Center) would’ve given the team a much better chance of sending the game into OT. Not sure I understand the strategy there but hell, Coach Brown is a Hall of Famer. What do I know?
Bobcats play well enough to win but for a team that lacks a go-to or consistent scorer, they cannot afford to go into a 2nd half funk, especially on the road. Barring a trade, the ‘Cats look exactly like what they are: a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team.