The Bobcats have reached a groove this season and look the best they have in years. After tonight's victory against the Grizzlies, we're gonna have to stop asking ourselves if this team can make the playoffs, and instead what seed they're going to finish at.
The game was a slugfest, with two defensive teams going at it and trying to overpower each other from start to finish. There was a lot of contact but the refs let them battle for every bucket. You could tell early on the winning team would be the one that managed to tough it out.
Surprisingly enough, in a game like this you would expect a player like Al Jefferson to excel. Jefferson is one of the best big men in the game and handles contact well. The Grizzlies decided early on they were not going to let Jefferson be the player to beat them. They threw everything they had at Jefferson: double teams, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and the kitchen sink. Jefferson went 2-13 and only scored six points. He still managed to grab nine defensive rebounds, but he was noticeably frustrated on offense.
The rest of the Bobcats had to step up and step up they did. Kemba Walker took on the scoring role for the team, shooting 9-20 for 31 points. He also made all of his 10 free throws and hit three 3-pointers.
As great as Walker was, however, he wasn't the key to the Bobcats victory. That honor goes to the Bobcats' second unit.
Anthony Tolliver continued his season of lights-out shooting, nailing 3-5 from long range, including a huge 3-pointer late in the game that put the Bobcats up by 10 points.
While Tolliver helped on the offensive end, the second unit's defense was suffocating the Grizzlies' offense, highlighted by some big time swats from Bismack Biyombo. He had two blocks, including one he followed up with Dikembe Mutumbo's finger wag.
Cody Zeller had a fantastic spin move around his man to get himself to the rim. However, he also committed some dumb fouls. And Ben Gordon played tonight! Yes, the soon-to-be-banished Gordon actually played meaningful minutes. He only shot 1-7 and his best moment was an assist that led to a Biyombo dunk -- but hey, it was something.
The Bobcats are heading into the toughest stretch of their season with games against the Spurs, Heat, and Pacers coming up soon. Luckily, the Bobcats are playing their best ball of the season. Now, we get to see how they fare against the top teams in the NBA.