I'm in a state of shock.
No, I don't mean the outcome of the game surprised me. I hardly thought the Bobcats would have much success with Henderson out. Rather, I mean the layman's term for the psychological condition arising after witnessing a significantly horrific and traumatic event.
I still am not quite sure how to process such a loss like this. I'm finding myself somewhat absentmindedly and despondently muttering hushed expletives under my breath. My face might be stuck in a permanent look of utter perplexity. My eyes are wide open, as if I'm afraid that if I close them, I may see bits and pieces of the game in the darkness of my mind. Is this what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder feels like? What in the hell did I just watch?
Was that a basketball game? It definitely felt more like an ambush. There I was, minding my own business, waiting to watch some basketball, but instead it felt like all of my senses were attacked out of nowhere. I watched the game by myself in UNC's undergraduate library, surrounded by some other students. I could feel the dread around my slumping shell like a fog and I wondered if it was spreading to my peers. I felt drained by the second quarter, my eyes weary, my brain doing its best to keep me from destroying it against the wood composite desk. As the game wore on, I sunk deeper into my swivel chair. And then when I could slump no lower into the chair, I lowered it as close to the floor as it would go. Maybe if I got so low, the depression emanating from the computer monitor would just barely hurdle my noggin, I hoped.
Sure, the final score says it was only a 17-point loss, but don't let that fool you, it was much worse than that.
The injury-addled Bobcats trotted out a brand-new starting lineup upon the news that Gerald Henderson would sit out with a back contusion suffered from last night's thumping at the hands of the Knicks. This lineup consisted of Kemba Walker, Matt Carroll, Derrick Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens, which probably ranks pretty highly on the all-time list of worst starting lineups ever.
And it was.
The Wizards sprinted out to an 8-2 lead, via the usual modus operandi to beat the Bobcats: points in the paint and offensive rebounding. In the first quarter, Washington scored 22 of their 31 first-quarter points in the paint. Byron Mullens again demonstrated his poor rebounding instincts and defense while Andray Blatche somehow became Good Boris Diaw, finding his teammates easily in the Bobcats' easily-permeable frontcourt. Meanwhile, the Bobcats scored 17 points total in the period. Kemba Walker and Matt Carroll led the way early with six and four points, respectively. The Bobcats' offense hardly moved the ball and struggled getting into the paint. I dare say the team settled for jump shots.
And somehow it got even worse from there in the second quarter. Two minutes and thirty seconds into the stanza, no one on either team had scored. At my desk, I began to ponder if it was too early in the game to consider throwing feces and checking into a mental hospital to avoid watching the rest of the match. To say turnovers plagued the Bobcats would be misleading, considering plagues usually aren't self-inflicted. The Bobcats were sloppy, listless on offense and just made foolish errors. Cory Higgins tried to dunk on JaVale McGee. Kemba missed 8 shots, four of which were rejected. The Wizards defense wasn't exemplary, but played solidly, closing out well on shots and playing strong help defense to help squander the Bobcats' forays into the paint. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Bobcats had tallied an impressive four points, though they would go on to score seven more before the half came to a close. The score at halftime? Wizards 48, Bobcats 28. Charlotte had four assists and 12 turnovers at the break and was losing the battle of the boards 29-17. Walker had 15 field goal attempts.
And that's when I understood why the bad guy from Casino Royale cried blood.
But hey, it couldn't get worse, right? It sure seemed that way, with the Bobcats cutting the deficit to 13 points on a 7-0 run led by Derrick Brown who was determined to get to the paint (funny how that works sometimes, huh?). The defense snapped awake from its slumber as the Wizards got complacent on offense. Wait, did the Bobcats have a shot at turning this thing around?
After a short timeout, Washington regained their focus and went back to carving the Bobcats interior defense. Bismack Biyombo stemmed this a little, but being only one man, and a rookie at that, he still couldn't make much of a dent in the Wizard's penetration. The Bobcats tried to keep up, but lost the handle even more, turning the ball over and frankly, just being really, really awful. They couldn't defend, were inefficient on offense, turned the ball over a bunch, didn't block out, had poor shot selection and poor ball movement. Honestly, I can't blame anyone too much. Matt Carroll was the best scoring option tonight. Kemba took a ton of shots, but my god, this lineup -- there's just not a whole lot that could have been done to save this team tonight. Even with Tyrus Thomas reminding people of his shot-blocking prowess, he couldn't get much going on offense. The team that took the court just had so little talent.
The fourth quarter may show the Bobcats outscoring the Wizards, but it sure has hell didn't feel like it. In a tragedy of errors, we saw DeSagana Diop attempt an 18-foot jumper, Kevin Seraphin out-rebound three Bobcats on an offensive rebound and then nearly out-hustle four Bobcats on a loose ball in one sequence, and the game ended with a turnover as Matt Carroll carried the ball with under six seconds remaining. The Wizards had long checked out of the game and still nearly outscored the Bobcats in the final period.
After a game like this, you can only stare at the box score and question to yourself, "What in the world happened out there tonight? How did a team with two wins absolutely destroy this squad, even as injured as they are? What went wrong?" But really, it would just be easier to look at what went right.
It boils down to just a few players. After miserable performance after miserable performance, Tyrus Thomas finally had a decent game, nearly recording a triple-double on points (13), rebounds (9) and blocks (9), while also tacking on four steals. His offense wasn't very good, knocking down a few jumpers and tip-ins, but turned the ball over a few times and didn't quite have a good handle on the ball. Matt Carroll looked alive for the first time this season, leading the team in scoring with 17 points on 10 attempts. Cory Higgins also played pretty well, with 13 points on 10 shots and a few assists, though he did have four turnovers. He's improving and I like his fearlessness to drive straight into the heart of the defense, but his shot-selection is still spotty as is his control over the ball. Bismack Biyombo also played OK. He rebounded well (7 reb, 4 OReb) and again had a handful of blocks (4).
Considering how those were the bright spots of the game for Charlotte, it's not hard to see that the Bobcats are just a team with players that aren't very good. This roster, especially with D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette and Reggie Williams all injured, could hardly be coached into a much better team, but there are definitely places where one can see lacking areas. They settle far too easily on outside jump shots. Remember last year when the team would at least cut well to find scoring opportunities in the paint? What happened to that? Why can no one seemingly block out? I saw Rashard Lewis beat four Bobcats players for an offensive rebound turned into second-chance points. That's embarrassing. I wonder how much Charlotte really lost when Charles Oakley didn't return for health reasons. He would be decapitating people in the locker room. Oak added toughness to the coaching staff that I think it needs. That's not to say I think Silas is a pushover, but rather that no one is tougher than Charles Oakley BECAUSE HE'S CHARLES OAKLEY.
Anyway, hopefully now that this recap's out of the way, I can repress this game from my memory forever. May Shammgod have mercy on our souls.