The Bobcats really needed to win this game against the visiting New Orleans Hornets tonight for the simple fact that they might not get another shot. With six games remaining the Bobcats are running out of chances to win. The dubious distinction of being labeled the worst team in the history of the NBA becomes more likely with every loss. The Bobcats could always win some of these games but that doesn't seem overly likely. And tonight without starters D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette the Bobcats were in the familiar position of needing everyone to play their absolute best basketball to win. That didn't happen and Charlotte dropped its 17th straight game 75-67.
Games against Chicago (I’m guessing minus Derrick Rose but still), a terrifying Memphis team no one wants to play, a frisky Sacramento Kings team (DeMarcus Cousins should have a field day), the Washington Wizards who just destroyed the Bobcats at home, the always terrible matchup problem that is Orlando (without Dwight Howard but still) and ending the season hosting the Knicks (in a game that somehow is still listed as being on TNT) remain. You could talk yourself into a win maybe, but you’d have a really hard time believing yourself.
And at this point in the season it’s not like wins are really that important, but for the fans' sake and everyone involved with this team it would have been nice to get one last win. Especially against the Hornets when the recent buzz (unavoidable) has been from new owner Tom Benson indicating he will make the Hornets nickname and colors available.
(At this point I’m starting to think it would be worth $10 Million just so we never have to hear this conversation again about changing Charlotte’s name back to the Hornets. Is it really worth that much? That’s a lot of money, even for Michael Jordan. But if he decides to go for it, great. If not, we can only hope he’ll stick with his current plan to build this team regardless of name. For all the people who say they just want to see the Hornets play in Charlotte again they certainly didn’t show that tonight.)
This game was like oh so many other games for the Bobcats this year. Even against a team that doesn’t have a whole lot more talent the Bobcats have to play their best basketball to win. Tonight they had a chance to win but when it was time to take the game only Gerald Henderson did anything about it.
Henderson played the type of game that quite frankly the Bobcats have needed all season. He scored a game high 27 points. He shot 11 free throws, which is what you’d really like to see him do more.
Henderson didn’t start off so hot, making a couple strange, almost out-of-body plays including a no-look behind-the-back pass to Bismack Biyombo (five points, nine rebounds) in the paint. No. No no no no no. If there is one thing every Bobcat should be painfully aware of by this point in the season it’s that a no-look behind-the-back pass to Bismack Biyombo in the paint is an awful idea and worse play. He also had a couple of odd plays of jumping in the air and not really knowing what he was going to do. This isn’t always foreign to a Bobcat but Henderson isn’t typically the culprit.
He did settle down and looked good in this game especially towards the end. But he had very little help. Very little help. Kemba Walker was the only other Bobcat scoring in double figures registering 14 points but needing 16 shots to do it. Walker played 41 minutes, the most of any Charlotte player. He only totaled three assists but on a night when Charlotte scored 67 freaking points he was basically John Stockton.
The real issue for Charlotte was the scoring, or lack thereof, from Derrick Brown (seven points), Byron Mullens (four points), and zero points from D.J. White. White may have been Charlotte’s most consistent offensive weapon this year. Rarely breaking out for huge nights but routinely hitting that jumper from the elbow and giving the Bobcats good production.
Maybe it was the second night of a back-to-back, maybe it was the lack of depth, maybe this season’s grind is just weighing heavy but the supporting cast didn’t do enough tonight for the Bobcats to win. Mullens, for his part did play hard on D and chipped in 10 boards but still got lost on several defensive assignments and switches. But he wasn’t the only one of course.
You have to give New Orleans coach Monty Williams some credit as well. His team is playing without key guys like Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Jarrett Jack, Chris Kaman, and Trevor Ariza. Sure the lengths of those absences varies, but he is a really good young coach and he’s done a good job getting production from guys like Greivis Vasquez (20 points and six assists) and Marco Belinelli (13 points). Throw in 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench from solid Carl Landry and it was too much for Charlotte tonight.
Maybe if the Bobcats hadn’t been outscored 12-8 (12-8!) in the third quarter a win could have been salvaged but they were, and it couldn’t be. Honestly, that third quarter will probably be the quarter people point back to for proof on how bad this season was…you know that or the 50+ losses. The two teams were tied at 47 after three, oof. Seriously, it was hard to hear that score and not laugh. Charlotte shot 12% in that quarter and 30% for the game; New Orleans wasn’t much better drilling a whopping 33% for the game. You get the picture. It wasn’t pretty but there are only six games left.