In one of the more unusual events of the night, I actually enjoyed watching this Bobcats team play basketball.
Since the trades, I've had a lot of difficulty watching the Bobcats. Aside from generally being busy with schoolwork up to my eyeballs last week, they've just just been unbearably disappointing and unentertaining. The youth had not been playing well or showing much development of skills whatsoever and the veterans looked disinterested.
It was painful and disgusting to watch. And it shows in your comments after games. I mean, Boris Diaw got a death threat, for chrissake!
This was not the case tonight. I attended Bobcats-Clippers at the Cable Box, sat through obnoxious douchebags sitting behind me* and still enjoyed the whole contest, despite the 92-87 loss. Henderson played exceptionally well and Boris Diaw had a pulse!
But as has been the case recently, the Bobcats couldn't find the offense late and their defense wasn't strong enough to keep the Clippers within range as the clock drew closer to the end of regulation.
The Bobcats were pretty decent early, with Augustin and Henderson knocking down shots while the rest of the team was also involved due to effective ball movement. However, there were the usual problems: Kwame fumbling easy passes, D.J. Augustin and the interior players' substandard defense. Defensively, they were slightly even more impressive, generally containing Blake Griffin, much to my surprise (though not too much. He still had 9 points in the first quarter).
As the first half progressed, the Bobcats hung tight with their second squad, led by Shaun Livingston. D.J. White continued his striking performance from the past couple of games with 6 points in the second quarter. His spot-up jump shot is quite solid and he be an effective rebounder. The Bobcats entered the break down two points, 49-47.
In the third quarter, the Bobcats picked up where they left off - playing decently, but gaining no ground. Henderson played exceptionally, hitting much of his midrange shots and finishing difficult shots at the rim. But in this period, the Bobcats inferior interior defense began to weaken, allowing Chris Kaman (!) to have 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
The fourth quarter showed little promise at first. A small Clippers lead escalated as the other Los Angeles team threatened to run away with the game, nearly taking the lead to double-digits. White was no longer hitting the midrange jumpers that he was so adept at, though he was rebounding well. The Bobcats needed Shaun Livingston or Gerald Henderson to step up and score to keep the team in the game. While they did an admirably job trying to stay in it, with Livingston getting three-point plays and the like, they also couldn't get a stop defensively until it was too late. A three-point deficit was unable to be cut any lower and the Bobcats fell to their fifth-straight loss.
Odds and Ends
- Unexpectedly (or expectedly if you do the exact opposite of what I think in the game previews), Blake Griffin never really found his rhythm offensively, struggling with his face-up bank shot. Yet, he still finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
- Also astounding, Boris Diaw had that game everyone's been mumbling about. The Round Mound of Very Few Rebounds was efficient as a scorer and a facilitator of the offense. Taking advantage of Blake Griffin's defensive inabilities, Diaw set to work with his post moves and passing savvy, ending up with nearly a triple-double (19 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST).
- I suspect Dante Cunningham didn't get much time because he's more of a power forward and doesn't have the size to deal with Blake Griffin.
- On D.J. Augustin's defense - It was rough. He was getting beat by Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe due to their quick first steps. Plus he still has a ton of difficulty fighting through picks.
- There was a Hanes Boxers Toss. This is the point where marketing goes too far. Yuck.
*On the obnoxious people who sat behind me: At first I thought a group of kids (read: dang teenagers!) was sitting behind me, due to the loudest having a high-pitched, nary deeper-than a girl's voice. However, he was probably older than I was. This main dude was rude, profane and most of all, extremely obnoxious. He was not a Bobcats fan - he was undoubtedly a bandwagon Clippers fan, brought in via the Blake Griffin revolution. This jerk loudly yelled out his annoyance at the idea of Blake Griffin shooting jump shots instead of dunking, exclaiming "ENTERTAIN ME!" repeatedly whenever Blake did not throw down thunderous, rim-shattering slams. However, this obviously wasn't the case, as if he wanted to be entertained, he would have shut his damn mouth and enjoyed a close game. No, he wanted to be the center of attention. He wanted to be the entertainment. The schmuck also berated the Bobcats at every turn, with sophomoric humor that struck no one's funny bone. At one point during the game, he declared (and I quote), "I am all knowledge." Shortly afterward, his buddy queried as to what number Oscar Robertson wore. "Thirty-two," the numbskull answered confidently.
After a certain unbearably aggravating string of ignorant, booming blatherings, I could no longer take it nor would I (or my father) be able to stomach it for another half of basketball. I coolly turned around in my seat and said, "Look, I didn't come here to hear your commentary every second of the game. Please be quiet." As I expected, there was some snickering and meant-to-be-overheard derision by them at my expense. But I'm a big boy. I made my point and I can shrug off unsophisticated, dull barbs. Having stuck no further chord in me, they shut up for pretty much the rest of the game, talking amongst themselves mostly.
You see, heckling is a tricky art during sporting events. Perhaps the most important, and yet unspoken rule to being a successful and respected heckler is to heckle the opposing team, not the home team! The home fans, as small as they may be, will have a short fuse for such actions. I have further heckling advice, but that's better suited for a later time.