Mike Dunlap after the game was quite frustrated, and who can blame him?
This game was an abject disaster. Sure, 104-92 seems somewhat close, but no bones about it, this was a mess.
With two of Atlanta's best post presences (Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia) out, the Bobcats' main weakness should have been somewhat neutralized. Instead, it looked just as bad, only against worse talent.
It started from the get-go. Hakim Warrick lost Josh Smith within seconds of the Hawks setting up and Smith received an easy pass for an open layup while Warrick just realized what was happening. The Bobcats started with some decency, switching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist onto Jeff Teague, which helped get the Bobcats into transition. But conversely, the Hawks were pretty keen on upping the tempo and getting to the rim, themselves.
Where things really got hairy for Charlotte was in their halfcourt offense, as often is the case. With their frontcourt deficiencies, the Bobcats must rely on backcourt scoring to jumpstart their offense. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist really is the catalyst here. His ability to get into the paint creates the inside-out passing lanes the Bobcats lack without a serviceable big man that can kick out. Biyombo's not a good passer and Warrick would sooner die than pass up a shot. So when MKG goes out, the Bobcats struggle to find more dimensions to their offense.
Further, the defense really suffers when MKG goes out, too. The Bobcats bench backcourt of Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon, for all they do well on offense, are horrid team defenders. They collapse to the paint at the slightest whisper of dribble penetration from a nearby player who they aren't guarding. Then, like magic, the driving guard kicks the ball out to wide open wings, ready to fire the cannons.
And fire they did. The Bobcats didn't really bother to guard Kyle Korver much at all, and they made Charlotte pay. He hit five of six of his threes, and eight total made shots of 11 attempts against the Bobcats. Jannero Pargo and John Jenkins chipped in with a handful of threes of their own off the bench.
Granted, the Bobcats hung in there for awhile, even though they sure didn't look like they had it in them.
Pretty much just Ramon Sessions turned in the only redeemable performance, scoring a season-high 27 points, and getting to the hoop well. Ben Gordon also had a decent offensive game. That said, the Hawks shot 12-for-25 from three, and they didn't exactly help defend the three well.
Josh Smith and Ivan Johnson absolutely tore up the Bobcats. Smith got strong position near the rim with ease and finished well in the post, while also hitting the midrange jumper he loves so much as well. Johnson just was a force on the glass, snatching offensive rebounds and earning Atlanta extended possessions.
The effort was there but the focus was not. Whether it was bumbled rebounds, horrendous outlet passes to the hands of defenders or just not getting good looks on offense, the Bobcats did't look ready to play.
Considering how beat-up the Hawks were, this should have been a better contest between the two teams. But it wasn't, and that's just sad.