It's not that the Bobcats can't have comebacks. It's just weird when they do. It's even more weird when they played non-Bobcats basketball for the entire game and somehow still came out with a victory.
At the beginning of Monday's game, the Bobcats looked ready to steamroll the Wizards. They went out to a quick lead and looked clearly better. Then it was like a flip switched and everybody on the team not named Cody Zeller said to themselves "You know, we don't really need to give a crap on defense" and the Bobcats proceeded to play some of their worst basketball all season.
It all started when Andre Miller came in to the game and started to dominate. Thanks to his superior size and post skills, Miller proceeded to post up Kemba Walker on every possession. He picked the Bobcats apart with his passing and creating open looks for his teammates. The Wizards shot 15-for-20 in the second quarter and outscored the Bobcats 40 to 19. It was like the Bobcats had never seen someone operate from the post before. Rotations were slow, shots were wide open and help wasn't there or it was too late. The defense was in total disarray.
On the offensive end, things weren't any better. An open look was created every once in awhile but the team was missing any open shot they were able to create. As a result, there was a lot of settling for bad shots. This didn't really fix itself until the fourth quarter.
The third quarter, while not as bad as the second, didn't go very well either. During this period the team looked dead in the water because of how bad the defense was. No longer was the team being picked off by Andre Miller working out of the post -- no, it was worse than that. Instead the Bobcats decided to play outside their identity. They were allowing open looks from long range, which is completely against their typical defensive game plan.
The offense was again struggling to hit open jump shots, so once again there were a lot of bad shots taken in the third. This resulted in a lot of transition opportunities for the Wizards. The Bobcats are supposed to have the best transition defense in the NBA, but they sure didn't look that way at this point of the night, getting themselves beat in transition.
But you know what, despite all of this bad basketball, the Bobcats had managed to keep the deficit to within 10 just long enough to get their groove back. In the fourth quarter it was like a completely different team was out there.
The Bobcats were back to playing the way that got themselves into a playoff position in the first place: strong defense centered around denying the inside and long ball and using the corner three on offense to open up baskets for Al Jefferson down low. Of course, it wasn't all that simple. Nothing ever goes according to plan and that requires improvisation. However, the only reason they were even in the position where they had a chance to improvise was because they stuck to what got them wins in other games. I don't know what got into them during the middle part of the game but it was awful. They can't play that kind of defense and expect to win games often.
The Bobcats played much better in the fourth quarter and a large reason the score was close enough to mount their comeback was from the great play of Cody Zeller. Zeller had a career game with 15 points, most of them coming from the 7 free throws he made. As awesome as drawing fouls can be, his best basket came on this awesome dunk. It's really a treat to see Zeller attacking the basket, at which he's most effective.
That was a very strange game to watch. It was a game that could send spectators into a roller coaster of emotions ranging from frustration to excitement. In the end, the Bobcats got a gigantic win that they really needed in the race for the 6th seed.