The Charlotte Bobcats lost their third straight game to start the season, falling 98-88 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Brandon Jennings played a near-perfect game, scoring 20 points on 8 shots, including 3-3 on three pointers, dished 10 assists, and pulled down 10 rebounds, and Carlos Delfino frustrated Gerald Wallace much of the night with his long range shooting, hitting 5-11 on threes.
For the Cats, D.J. Augustin and Stephen Jackson battled to keep them in the game, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Bucks' crisp half-court game and snappy transition offense.
The primary takeaway from this game is that the Cats' identity at both ends of the floor is still in flux. They don't seem to be comfortable in their roles with Augustin at the offense's lead, and I suspect it's because there's a different vibe when the point guard is a shooter, not a penetrator. When Tyrus Thomas isn't hitting his jumpers and Boris Diaw is regressing back to Do-Nothing Boris, that's a formula for dysfunctional offense. On defense, they just aren't showing the kind of practiced rotations and adjustments they made so beautifully last season. Maybe it's just early-season rust, or a poor stretch that happens to be coming at the start of the season. In the end, it's troubling that the Cats' hallmark defense just hasn't been there this season, but also intriguing that the offense has been better than what most people expected. I'm just afraid we've lost more ground on defense than we've gained on offense.
Game thread comments, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
Ourdaywillcome -- The Cats either can’t or won’t block out Bogut. At last count he had roughly 600 offensive boards thus far. Coach Brown is making some pretty questionable substitutions. I’m talking real head-scratchers like pulling D-Brown off the floor after he just scored on a fast break and got back in a hurry to defend at the other end.
WhatAboutBob_cats -- I really want to use profanity but I’ll refrain and just express that I yearn for a trade for a center ASAP
-- Boris Diaw has pretty much established that his level of play from his one exceptional season with the Suns and first season with the Bobcats is not what anyone should expect from him. Rather, he's a borderline NBA starter who's probably best used on this team as a bench guy, one who spends his energy bringing an offensive spark. He didn't score until the fourth quarter, and that was a three pointer and two free throws. That is to say, he finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist, all in 25 minutes. They can do better.
-- It's hard to advocate for Kwame Brown, given how terrible he's been the last few seasons, but Nazr Mohammed is doing nothing to inspire confidence. 3 points and 3 rebounds in 22 minutes is terrible, even against someone as awesome as Andrew Bogut.
-- Tyrus has to stop taking so many jumpers. He shot 3-10 from the field in 21 minutes. Basically, someone needs to get through to him that he's most effective following up on misses, then on the break, then attacking the rim, and only after all those shooting jumpers.
-- Gerald Wallace was 3-9 from the field (though he did get enough free throws to get up to 11 points) and turned it over 6 times. He was also the primary defender on Carlos Delfino, who torched the Cats for 23 points.
-- Augustin was 9-13 from the field, 5-6 from three, for a team-leading 26 points. Though the above worry stands, that his skill set has yet to effectively mesh with the rest of the team's, he's looking a lot like the D.J. of 2008-09, a deadeye shooter and occasional penetrator (as opposed to never driving the lane, like he was last season).
-- Jax's shots were falling. He was his usual swag self, hitting 8-15 from the field, including 3-7 from three, for 23 points.
-- There's got to be a way to get Gerald Henderson and (especially) Derrick Brown more minutes. I don't know the most effective way to do that, but I'm guessing it could be accomplished by killing Diop's minutes, reducing Mohammed's and Diaw's, and taking our chances with Tyrus at the nominal center position.