Reality is rarely blunt because it's a massive cloud of mixed signals. The past four games were tantalizing, and then this game was devastating, seemingly indicative of a massive talent gap between the East's elite and the Cats. I don't know what the precise, objectively real, truth is, but I'm pretty certain that on average it won't end up this bad. It's why I've tried to temper the optimism brought on by those recent games. We're better than we were three weeks ago, but that doesn't mean we're so much better that we can start printing playoff tickets. This team still has a long way to go, and sustained success will not come free with purchase of one Stephen Jackson.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.BAD
-- I mentioned this in the game thread several times, but it bears special highlighting here. Larry Brown's decisions probably wouldn't have swung the game, but his handling of Gerald Wallace's "foul trouble" was insane. Crash played 5:31 in the first quarter before getting his second foul, at which point LB removed him and didn't bring him back until the second half. So, of course, late in the fourth quarter, Wallace had played every minute of the second half without committing a foul. Crash played fewer than 30 minutes in this game, but not because of foul trouble. It was because Larry Brown doesn't know how to handle a lineup rotation. Gerald didn't score much (1-6 from the field), but damned if he didn't rebound like mad again.
-- 2-11 from three. This is almost comical now. Stop shooting threes. Put the ball on the floor. Attack the rim.
-- Tyson Chandler has to be a defensive beast to be worthwhile. He hasn't been, whether due to injury or whatever. His offense is what it is, though, and we've got to figure out how best to use him. I don't care that Nazr Mohammed has looked perfectly reasonable in the early season: Nazr Mohammed is the best answer only if you're asking the wrong question. I still have hope Chandler will be the defensive anchor that makes our defense elite, not just very good, but his offense is so grisly that other teams have taken to ignoring him.
-- Flip, my man. If you're the designated scorer off the bench, it'd help to work on your scoring efficiency. 2-12 shooting is pretty bad.
-- Nazr Mohammed scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting in 19 minutes. He's in great shape and playing okay defense, too. Do I hear a second round draft pick and an expiring contract attached to a useless player?
-- Boris Diaw actually scored, going 5-10 from the field, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. 1 assist and 2 rebounds is pretty tough to accept from the power forward position, though.
-- We continue to see Good Felton. Yes, he took more shots than we'd like to see from a point guard, but he was reasonably efficient and turned it over only once.