What happens when a team with no offense plays a team with no defense? The Charlotte offense and Sacramento defense both ranked 28th in the NBA in terms of efficiency going into Saturday's game, and it seems that after this game, both of those rankings will change, but only Charlotte's will improve.
The Bobcats finished with a 54.2 field goal percentage and a 60 percent mark from three, making this one of the best offensive performances of the season. Was that because of the Kings' woeful defense? Definitely. Was that because, for seemingly the first time in weeks, both their open and contested shots fell? Probably. Was it because Ben Gordon didn't play? Well, I can't rule that out. Regardless of cause, the Bobcats offense thrived at every possible level, scoring on fast breaks following turnovers, scoring 50 points in the paint, and knocking down nine shots from behind the arc.
This offensive prowess was fueled by Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, who had the type of chemistry tonight that normally leads to sitcom deals (or, at the very least, a lot of points). Walker dropped 30 points on 12-for-19 shooting, and Jefferson contributed 27 with an 11-for-21 line, combining for over half of the team's points. Lest you think the effort was coming from only two areas, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, and Chris Douglas-Roberts also put double figures on the scoreboard, and all finished with more points than field goal attempts.
The Bobcats defense didn't look like its usual strong self for a good portion of the game, but it required a shift midway through the second quarter. With DeMarcus Cousins neutralized for most of the first half, Rudy Gay had begun to drive through the lane and get consistently open or easy looks. From there, the defense packed in and let the shooters work while trying to contain penetration into the paint. This didn't always work, and the defense broke down more often than we've become used to this season, but it slowed down Gay long enough to keep the Bobcats in front for the entire second half.
If there was one area where the Bobcats struggled, it was with rebounding, as they allowed the Kings to pull down 17 offensive rebounds from 50 missed field goals. Individually, Jefferson had 9 rebounds, while Josh McRoberts led the team with 11, but no other Bobcat was able to come up with five, leading to a lopsided 52-38 margin in total rebounding in favor of the Kings, despite the Kings missing more shots than the Bobcats.
It should be mentioned that Anthony Tolliver continues to slide in nicely to his three-and-D role, shooting 2-for-2 from the perimeter (and 2-for-3 overall) to raise his already-strong season three-point percentage. He occasionally struggles against more athletic small forwards, and we saw some of that against the Kings, but if his ability to guard multiple positions stays the way it has been so far, he could be a valuable defensive contributor due to his versatility.
Other assorted notes:
- Bismack Biyombo fouled out after playing only nine minutes, but he played good defense during his short time in the game.
- Cody Zeller looked good tonight, seeming to thrive in a faster-paced game than the Bobcats typically play. He didn't record a block, but used his athleticism to alter the paths of shots, and made many plays on that side of the ball. He only managed two rebounds in 11 minutes, partially due to the role he was playing keeping him away from the defensive glass, but also had two assists.
- Along with that, the Bobcats' ball movement looked good tonight. Occasionally their passing has been listless and just a way to slow pace, but tonight it looked purposeful on almost every possession. It was a good team night on offense.