The Big Picture: The last time the Bobcats and Bulls tangled, on Wednesday, the Cats won thanks to three main successes:
1 -- D.J. Augustin thoroughly outplayed Derrick Rose.
2 -- Tyrus Thomas had a huge game off the bench.
3 -- The Cats turned it over only 7(!) times the whole game.
The game was played in Charlotte, too, which adds a little more benefit, but that's mainly how the Cats won, overcoming big offensive games from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. If we're realistic, we can't expect the same kind of performance again tonight, in Chicago. There's a reason the Bulls are among the league leaders, and it's not some fluky streak of competence; they expect to totally outclass the Cats, I'm sure.
So what, exactly, is the Cats' path to victory in this brave new world of above-average point guard offense?
I think it's becoming clearer with every game that Stephen Jackson is simultaneously underappreciated and overused. Underappreciated in that he can still play defense on any wing in the league, and because there's a real chance his high-volume shooting is providing benefit to his teammates beyond his personal results, but overused in that his personal results have been so poor of late that all those ancillary benefits can't possibly outweigh them and provide positive value to the team.
Early in the season, Jackson had been shooting over 40% from three, but he's since dropped all the way down to his career average, right about 34%, including 18-63 (29%) since Paul Silas took over, and his PER is back below average, probably because of his turnovers as much as the missed threes. In many ways, I wish he was more like Gerald Wallace was last year. Jack can get to the rim and use his size against the smaller wings that will be matched up against him, but he takes nearly 6 threes per game. He's just not a good enough shooter to use the three as his primary weapon, and a change in emphasis might do him good.
By now, the book on him has to be that he's going to take tons of threes, but it's relatively okay, because he could easily go 1-11 from deep. Here's the thing: Jack taking a bunch of threes last year made some sense, because no one else on the team was, historically, a good distance shooter. This year? Crash is outshooting Jax for the second straight season. Nacho is outshooting him from three for the third straight season. Boris Diaw is probably an equal from distance -- and possibly superior, given that he's only been shooting threes regularly for three seasons and has outshot Jack in two of them.
It's time for Jackson to start driving and kicking more. Instead of trying to produce by being the focal point of the offense, the roster's talent distribution is such that Jack probably helps more by reducing his shooting volume and spreading scoring opportunities around.
Musical Interlude: Tal Bachman -- "She's So High"
Key to Victory: Find the matchup advantage tonight and pound it. I doubt it'll be Augustin or either of the wings. Most likely, it'll be Diaw forcing Boozer away from the basket, or Kwame Brown again schooling Kurt Thomas. Either way, it's almost certainly a bad thing if Jackson takes more than 15 shots.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Once, I was mentioned in a San Francisco Chronicle column featuring reader-submitted mondegreens: David Arnott thought that in the Hole song "Doll Parts," Courtney Love sang, "Someday, you will lick what I ate," which is a more alarming statement than "Someday, you will ache like I ache."