There's a good many things to hate about this loss. I'll run down my top three real quick:
- Matt Barnes scoring well. I don't like Matt Barnes. I think he's a punky fart. To watch him drop 19 points like that in such an instrumental role was painful for me. Frowny face.
- Gerald Henderson sitting so long in the 4th quarter. Ben Gordon wasn't shooting well, and when Ben Gordon doesn't shoot well, his defensive deficiencies are not balanced and he weighs down both sides of the floor for Charlotte.
- Having to recap this game because Josh forgot he was scheduled and now I have to pull an all-nighter to do this and finish a take-home final before I go to work tomorrow morning. /kicks Josh in the shins
Still, this game wasn't all bad. It was like a Taco Bell Doritos Loco Taco: it made no sense, you had no idea what you're consuming and you didn't care even if it left you sad about what you just did.
To start, the Bobcats' frontcourt got surprisingly good production against the Clippers' impressive front line. Byron Mullens turned in a strong performance with 19 points and eight rebounds. It was a tale of two halves for Mullens, who was 1-for-6 with 3 points in the first half and 7-for-9 for 16 points in the second half. After making poor passes and turnovers before the break, he looked like a completely different player. Mullens made smart plays to finish pick and rolls, making use of his length. He strode through the space opened up by his screen as his defender, content to leave him to hedge Kemba Walker, gave him a lane to get to the rim. He even made some good passes. But defensively, he really showed a more complete game. He was active on rebounds and bodied his man pretty well. Granted, there were mistakes of letting Blake Griffin get the alley-oop he wanted, but overall, a strong all-around game from Mullens. Bismack Biyombo also played well, playing some strong defense on Griffin, crashing the boards and even posting up Griffin on the block in the final minutes, showing some post game and hitting a little hook shot over Griffin. There's not much you can do about Blake Griffin alley-oops and his ability to imitate a freight train, but the Bobcats refused to be run over easily and they held DeAndre Jordan to being a non-factor, more or less.
But the Clippers' early failure to connect on open threes changed after the half. They went 7-for-13 from behind the arc in the second half, three of which came from Barnes. Yes, make no mistake about it, the Bobcats' defensive rotations still are frustrating. I thought they were better than the last game I saw, but that doesn't say very much.
Also concerning is the continued trend of the Bobcats' faltering in second halves. Ramon Sessions continued his unimpressive play and Ben Gordon couldn't get much going. Yet Dunlap stuck with them late. Even when Kemba returned, Gordon stayed out with them. With Gordon's shot not falling, he was a significant liability. He simply can't get to the rim well and plays a little too fast and loose when he tries to drive, leading to turnovers or hurried forehead slap-inducing shots. Yet, he has the ability to go off like lighting a matchup and bury three pointers like it's no one's business.
Sometimes it works, but often times it doesn't pay off and it makes no sense. When Henderson was out, there just wasn't an option for the Bobcats where they could sub in a guard that contribute decent scoring, even if Gordon's defense left Bobcats' opponents with easier shots. Now that Henderson's back, I'd like to see him play more in the fourth in close games like this. Henderson played most in the fourth at SF with Sessions and Gordon forming the guard tandem. Ball movement struggled and the Bobcats couldn't get much going with ball penetration.
The Bobcats had six free throws in the fourth quarter. One was from a Clippers technical foul, one was an and-one attempt from Bismack Biyombo. All the other four were from Gerald Henderson. Henderson gets to the rim at a decent clip and has a history of playing well in the fourth quarter. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems to me that playing Henderson could help the Bobcats' late game problems when ball movement slows, especially inside-out, and the ball stops going into the paint as much.
As a final note, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was pretty good too. He fought for rebounds and defended well, even though he struggled offensively in the second ha--GOSH DARN IT WE GAVE UP 19 POINTS TO FREAKIN' MATT BARNES AUUUUGGGGHGARGHARGAHRHRHHHHHHHH
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