Hey, cool. I'm 24-3 in my predictions of whether or not the Bobcats will win. Send me to Vegas, baby.
After a subpar effort against the Bulls last night, the Charlotte Bobcats came out with another subpar effort against the most exciting team in the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers. This was one of Chris Paul's many homecomings, although his first as a Clipper, and Paul did not disappoint the 150+ friends and family that came out to watch him trounce the Bobcats.
Early on, this game appeared to be entertaining and somewhat close, but that changed in the second quarter. Paul tallied 8 assists and 12 points on 6/9 shooting before the half. Chris Paul things. There were dozens of highlights for the Clippers, including an unlikely DeAndre Jordan jump shot -- his first made field goal outside the paint in over two years.
The Bobcats, however, did not have the basketball IQ and discipline to compete with the Clippers and quickly fell behind. And stayed behind. There wasn't a lot to take from this game. At this point, we have a fairly good idea of what this team is about and capable of without Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin.
Outside of the usual suspects (Kemba Walker, Corey Maggette, and Derrick Brown), the Bobcats did what they do best: making tons of meaningless, half-assed cuts in their poorly executed UCLA offense that end up being isolation plays resulting in contested midrange jumpers. Yep. That's the gist of it.
This was also another game in which the lack of size and athleticism inside was glaring. Every single player that the Clippers have were able to get into the paint at will and finished with a light contest at most. Chris Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, heck, even Trey Thompkins had a few uncontested layups inside. There's simply no excuse for this. Say the team lacks talent, sure. But even the most stiff player alive is capable of a hard foul.
Tonight's best player was undoubtedly Kemba Walker (19 points on 4/13 FGs, 11/12 FTs), whom despite shooting poorly from the floor took shots within the offense and was able to get to the freethrow line consistently. He makes the right decision more often than not, boasting yet another game with 0 turnovers. His ability to create space is already elite by NBA standards. Give him a year or two to get his stroke right, and you'll have yourself a wonderful player.
Corey Maggette (12 points on 3/8 FGs, 6/7 FTs, 6 rebounds) played well on the offensive end, but was routinely a sieve with poor awareness on the opposite end. This is what I'd consider a standard night for Maggette. Some points, some rebounds, and a matador on defense.
Biyombo didn't get much run, playing only 19 minutes. He didn't match his intensity from last night on either end, routinely being out-hustled by DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. He seems to struggle against tall, athletic bigs, as he doesn't jump nearly as high as he's capable of to match his opponent's ability. We've seen Biyombo easily get his head above the rim. He needs to do that more often against the elite bigs he faces on a regular basis.
Surprisingly, the Bobcats only had 4 turnovers against the Clippers. This is more a product of not passing enough than it is a product of taking care of the ball. The Bobcats are rarely able to get defenses to collapse or shift. With a little bit of ball movement on the perimeter, and a little more reading the defense rather than running the system, the Bobcats should be able to find easier shots for key scorers like Reggie Williams and Byron Mullens.
Williams had a very poor night, shooting 1/12 from the field with little else to show. As mentioned before, more ball movement would greatly benefit him. His ball IQ on the offensive end is ridiculously high, and it's unfortunate that his ability to score is being hindered by his team mates'.
Diop...don't hurt me, here...looked good. The box score won't tell you that, but his presence alone, and by presence I mean his big, lumbering, immovable body, was a great asset to have. He was unable to contain DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, but he did a better job than any other big. Plus, he sets some really good screens.
One issue I'm beginning to have with the Bobcats is their rotations. Some things are clearly working, and others are not. That said, the rotations appear to be set in stone. There is no doubt in my mind that Derrick Brown should be starting over Corey Maggette. Brown has shown a relentlessness in getting to the rim and hustling to every loose ball in sight. This would fit well with Boris Diaw, whom is seemingly allergic to such things in most cases.
If you were able to get past the fact that the Bobcats were destroyed, this game was very fun to watch. The Clippers are arguably the most exciting team to watch since the Showtime Lakers, and tonight was no disappointment in that regard. However, if you were stuck on your sofa, moping about missed rotations and poor shooting, fret not: we're almost halfway through the season. The number one pick is in sight. Hold it together, guys. We're almost there.
And hey, those jerseys looked pretty sweet, no?