1. Another loss tonight, 79-74 to the visiting Bucks. Once again, the inept Cats drop a winnable home game to a team missing a key player. AP story here, box score here, and game flow from PopcornMachine.net here (so awesome, by the way). My story? Bad basketball by two bad teams who are both missing their starting shooting guards. One team was a little less bad than the other.
2. First off, thanks to my fellow Baseliners for picking up my slack this week. After the Mavs game, I decided not to post; partly because I was beat, but partly because I was so peeved by the Bobcats’ performance I couldn’t think of anything even remotely objective or positive to write.
3. Bits and pieces of DJ Augustin’s Friday night performance against the Hawks notwithstanding, watching the Bobcats over the past few games has been akin to torture. It literally pains me to watch this team right now. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like there were occasional flashes of competence: crisp rotations on defense and some easy baskets on offense resulting, I assumed, from Brown’s “system”.
However, the team looks like a complete mess right now. Regarding the defense, don’t let the low point totals fool you; it’s because we’re playing the slowest pace in the league, not good defense. On offense, if we’re lucky enough not to commit an offensive foul on a bad screen or throw the ball away, we’re usually shooting a jumper with the shot clock running down. There is no semblance of an offensive system or philosophy out there.
We’ve all read how Larry Brown teams often stumble and play poorly before eventually “getting it” and improving, so let’s hope that’s what’s happening. But did the Knicks (or the 2006 USA team for that matter) ever “get it” with Brown at the helm? (Bad sign: the ’08-’09 Bobcats have induced me to invoke the ’05-’06 Knicks as a comparison.)
4. Regarding tonight’s game specifically, the most concerning thing was the team’s body language. Whatever benefit Brown got out of shaking up the starting lineup was short-lived, as the effort was back to piss-poor again tonight. Morrison airballed a 30-footer at the buzzer to end the third quarter, then rolled his eyes on the way to the bench, presumably at having been forced by his teammates to take such a miserable shot. That’s just one example, though – pretty much everyone was guilty tonight.
5. Speaking of Morrison, both he and Carroll particularly seem to have lost all confidence over the past few games. Tonight they combined for 0-9 FG (5-21 FG over the past 3 games).
6. Sean May didn’t play at all tonight, which is all well and good. Even in the limited slices of playing time he’s received, his presence has been extremely detrimental to the team. Need to see to believe?
7. It stands to reason that player morale would be low right now, what with half the team on the trading block. The Bobcats continue to provide fodder for HoopsHype, ESPN’s NBA Insiders and bloggers everywhere with all the news and rumors about trades and acquisitions. Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime on ESPN.com provides a couple of tidbits regarding the Bobcats.
First, Stein claims that the Bobcats and Cavs are still in the running for signing Antonio McDyess if he doesn’t go back to the Pistons. Furthermore, he gives the Bobcats the edge on the Cavs, as we have our full midlevel exception left and Larry Brown (whom McDyess is supposedly fond of). But don’t get your hopes up. Stein gives away the answer when he speculates that McDyess’ flirtation with other teams is just a way to make it look like everything is on the up and up before he simply returns to the Pistons.
Stein also reports that the Bobcats may make another offer for Chris Kaman, especially since the Clippers are overloaded with bigs after trading for Zach Randolph. Stein speculates that the Clippers may be more interested in Jason Richardson than Gerald Wallace, though. So you can add J-Rich to the list of Bobcats involved in trade rumors. Yay!
8. I’ll end on a positive note. DJ Augustin had the play of the night for the Bobcats in the fourth quarter when he used an unreal behind-the-back dribble to get by Tyronn Lue in the open court on the way to the basket for a three-point play. It’s in the video highlight package of the game on ESPN.com, and it’s worth watching.
9. Next game: Monday night, hosting the Sixers at 7:00.