Back-to-backs are difficult for even the best teams in the NBA. When you add in being on the road, playing a very good team, and a lack of depth, you have yourself a pretty good formula for a scheduled loss. I give all credit to the Suns tonight for putting a beat down on the Bobcats. They put their gameplan to work early and they did it well. Phoenix's plan was to penetrate inside, get to the paint, and cause havoc from there. Against a tired Bobcats team, the Suns got the chaos they wanted.
By the third quarter it was quite clear how tired the Cats were. The Suns just kept executing and moving the ball. When you can't stop a team, and you're already tired, it's even more exhausting. Possession after possession the Bobcats' defenders were worn down until they were broken. As they continued to be attacked I realized something. The Bobcats weren't not making rotations. They were rotating and playing the same defense as usual. They were just too slow and tired to react in time against a Suns team that is constantly executing to perfection.
You'll see sometimes when watching the Bobcats that they're okay with allowing a player to drive by them. They're okay with this because they have their interior defenders rotate near the rim and force the player driving to either try and draw a foul or pull up from midrange. The Suns countered this by kicking out to open players who had gotten free from screens. This isn't the first time a team has used this strategy on the Bobcats but usually they're good enough at fighting through the screen or rotating over that they can cover on the kicks. Tonight was not one of those nights.
There were a few positives from the Bobcats tonight. Despite the blowout, the Bobcats never seemed to stop giving effort. They stuck to their game plan and didn't get discouraged. After what happened in the Knicks game when Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points, it was fair to judge the mental toughness of the team. Tonight the team never panicked against the overwhelming force of a very good Suns team.
Speaking of not panicking, Cody Zeller didn't panic tonight. That's a weird thing to get excited about but Zeller has had plenty of deer in the headlight games this season. Tonight he was looked confident and played well. Shooting 4-for-7 from the field, there was one play in particular I remember early on in the game. Zeller caught the ball at the left elbow, he immediately faced up his man and made a quick decision. His decision was to put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. There was a hope when he was drafted that he'd be able to put the ball on the floor and that was a sample that he has the ability. He just needs to perfect it.
Anthony Tolliver provided some excellent minutes off the bench tonight, going 4-for-7, including three long balls. His ability to space the floor is becoming invaluable to this team.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a solid game himself going 4-for-6 from the field for 11 points. He got those points the way he does best with off ball cuts and getting to the rim.
That's about it for the positives. The Suns outplayed the Bobcats in every way. Tonight was probably a schedule loss due to being a back-to-back on the road but if the Bobcats ever want to become a great team then you have to win some of those scheduled losses. Oh well, I've said it before with this team and I'll say it again. It happens.