I missed much of the game due to technical difficulties, but what I did catch was frustratingly bipolar, vacillating between encouraging and chin-on-your-hand sighs.
Kemba Walker started the game off hot, scoring 11 points and dropping two dimes in the first quarter. Yay!
Starting point guard D.J. Augustin played only six minutes as what would later be revealed to be a slight crack between two bones in his big toe. According to Rick Bonnell, he'll have an injection intended to seal the crack, relieving his pain. Augustin will be out a minimum of three days, and if the injection works, he could be back by the end of the week. Aw, poop.
Gerald Henderson again showed his versatility on offense, driving to the basket and even hitting a three. Yay!
Walker turned sloppy, making some silly brain farts with his ballhandling and decision-making. Aw, poop.
Bismack Biyombo looked not awful on offense, rebounding well, blocking shots and forcing opponents to change their field goal attempts because of his length, quick hands, athleticism and defensive instincts. Yay!
MarShon Brooks nullified just about any defenders the Bobcats threw at him, including Henderson, on a variety of shots from all over. Aw, poop.
The Bobcats began the game featuring some sharp ball movement and rebounding, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead, before the Nets awoke and began exploiting the Bobcats' weaknesses. Their first 10 points were all in the paint, as Deron Williams just went wherever the heck he wanted to -- in the paint, to the baseline, to Hoboken, to Jay-Z's new shut-down club in New York, anywhere. And then Williams began to post up Augustin. Williams is perhaps the best point guard on the block and recklessly wrecked Augustin in the post. Brooks followed his lead, backing Walker down as easily as someone about a half-foot taller than his defender can. Without a roaming safety to help on defense, Williams and Brooks scored nearly unperturbed. The Nets also overwhelmed the Bobcats' frontcourt with much more strength than they could handle, powering for seven first-half offensive rebounds and 12 second-chance points. Kemba's shot was falling early but whatever success he had early went by the wayside as he shot 1-for-8 after the first quarter. The Bobcats ended the first half down 16 points.
The second half was when I had problems watching the game, so I missed a significant portion of the third quarter. But I think I can fill in the blanks decently well. The Nets transitioned from banging in the paint and slicing to the rim to taking advantage of the Bobcats' poor closing out. Anthony Morrow feasted all night on the Bobcats' perimeter defense. Morrow's such a fantastic sharpshooter that you don't want to give up the three, but if you close out too strong, he'll just fake and dribble a step inside and knock down a wide-open shot. If you don't close in quickly, though, he'll take that inch of daylight and hit the trey. It's a tough cover for the Bobcats, who have to adjust to a weak interior defense, leaving their perimeter defense far too outstretched. And then there's Brooks, who can hit the long ball, but also take even the most talented defensive guard in isolation, including Henderson, who had trouble defending Brooks.
Charlotte would cut the Nets' lead to single digits on the strong play of Bismack Biyombo, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter. I get that those points came against Mehmet Okur and Kris Humphries, hardly defensive stalwarts. But considering this was a guy whose offense was said to be more raw than Eddie Murphy's 1987 stand-up comedy special, he looks to be learning quickly and is impressing me. His post moves aren't pretty. His footwork reminds me of Dave Chappelle's "Little Foot, Long Foot" sometimes. But no one ever said he'd be David Robinson. On the defensive end, he also impressed, as I mentioned earlier. I would also feel remiss if I didn't give Cory Higgins some credit for a fine performance. He's still far too confident in his long ball, but he's a decent defender and makes good cuts for shots at the rim. Well done, kiddo.
Despite cutting the lead to single digits, there simply wasn't enough time left. Nine points in 1:43 isn't insurmountable, but for this team it might as well be. I'm disappointed that Silas didn't send any starters back in the game to at least fight for anything. Kemba fell apart after the first quarter, but who knows if he could have gotten hot. Gerald Henderson undoubtedly would have been an improvement over Carroll. Whatever.
As a final note, I would really like to see Biyombo move into the starting lineup. I understand where he stands. He fouls a lot. His offense is as smooth as Shane Battier's skull. He occasionally gets caught with bad positioning. He also is showing that he's not completely incompetent on offense. He's the physically-strongest player on the team. He forces opponents to rethink their shots in the paint. I'd like to see what he can do in situations other than garbage time. What's the worst that can happen? The Bobcats lose more games? They're already doing that, and how! That Biyombo fouls a lot? Then you can sub him out for Mullens, who I think is close to his ceiling, both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. I want to see Biyombo given the space and time to develop in crucial playing time. It leaves the Bobcats unquestionably weaker offensively in the starting lineup, but it's not like he's on the court forever.
Besides, the Bobcats are freaking 3-14.