"'Cause I just don't believe we're wicked. I know that we sin but I do believe we try. We all try." - Frank Ocean (We All Try)
I never expected a Frank Ocean song to explain how I feel about a basketball game, but here we are.
This game was interesting. The Charlotte Bobcats started out well, scoring 29 points on 57.1% shooting in the first quarter. Then, they scored 17 points on 25% shooting in the second quarter.
The third quarter was no better. The Bobcats scored 14 points on 22.2% shooting.
Despite their horrid shooting, the Bobcats were only down by 10 after three quarters, due in part to the Indiana Pacers shooting an uncharacteristic 40.5% from the field.
The fourth quarter, though? That's when the wheels came off.
The Bobcats scored 17 points in the fourth on 21.7% shooting while the Pacers scored 31 points on 51.4% shooting. Boo-hoo.
This game was more of a heart-breaker than you'd think by looking at the score. I've gotta give the Bobcats some credit. They played pretty hard on both ends, and for whatever reason, their shots didn't fall and they were blown out.
Frank Ocean raises an interesting point in the aforementioned lyrics. Someone can try to do everything right with the best intentions and still manage to screw up. This describes the Bobcats tonight.
The Pacers are an average 3-point shooting team, averaging 19.3 attempts per game with pace adjusted and shooting 34.1%. Not great, but respectable.
But without David West, and with Roy Hibbert only playing 18 minutes in this game, the Pacers were sure to become more of a perimeter-oriented team. The Bobcats expected this, and they did everything they could to limit shooters to bad shots.
Prior to the fourth, the Pacers shot 3-16 from behind the arc, which is about 19%. The Bobcats' defense played a large role in the Pacers' struggles.
The problem with the Bobcats' defense, however, was that they were so focused on closing out on shooters and denying them the ball that they allowed the Pacers to score 50 points in the paint. Doesn't sound so bad, until you realize that 50 points in the paint, one-game sample size aside, would be good for second most in the NBA.
That can't happen. But it did. The Bobcats compromised their ability to defend the interior by loading up on the perimeter.
But here's the killer. While the Pacers attempted 47 shots in the paint, the Bobcats attempted a grand total of 34. But wait, that's not even the worst part. In the restricted area, the Bobcats shot 3-20. Granted, a lot of those misses were hasty tip-in attempts, but that's not a pretty percentage.
The easiest shot in basketball is a layup. Evidently, this isn't true for the Bobcats.
Another issue for the Bobcats in this game was securing defensive rebounds. They performed well on the offensive boards, but allowed Indiana to grab 18 offensive rebounds, which led to 20 second chance points. Yikes.
Oddly enough, if you take away all of the Pacers' offensive rebounds, they still win the game, and Paul George still gets his first career triple double.
Ah, Paul George. George was phenomenal tonight, finishing the game with a terrific 23 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and two steals. A large number of his assists went to guys under the rim, and five of his own eight made field goals came at the rim. He was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted against the Bobcats.
George also shut down his two match-ups, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ben Gordon. They finished with a combined 10 points on 16.6% shooting.
One player that did have a good game for the Bobcats was Bismack Biyombo. Despite shooting 1-7 from the field, Biz grabbed an astounding 16 rebounds (just one shy of his career high) and blocked four shots. Biz has been more up than down lately, and it's good to see him making some progress on the defensive end. He was drafted to be a stopper and rebounder, and is finally showing some consistency in those departments.
Byron Mullens came out with a typical Byron Mullens line of 19 points on 19 shots and three rebounds. Mully was...not good tonight. Oh, and he attempted his season average of five 3-pointers, and made his season average of one of them. Always fun.
This isn't a game to be down about. The Pacers, even without West, are a dangerous team with one of the best young players in the league. The Bobcats targeted the Pacers' weaknesses, and were destroyed in other areas. I'm usually pretty hard on the Bobcats, but they played pretty well tonight and things just didn't go their way. A solid effort all around.
This is the Bobcats' last game until after All-Star Weekend, so you won't see them for about a week unless you watch Friday's Rookie/Sophomore game. I like me some Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so I'll be tuning in. You should too.
The Bobcats' next game is on Tuesday, February 19th against the Orlando Magic at home. That's a team the Bobcats can beat, so I'm hoping they come back with a fresh mind and grab a win.