So there's some good news. The Bobcats scored 100 points against the Spurs! The same Spurs that took the Heat to seven games in the Finals last year, and are third in overall win percentage in the NBA this year! That's good! Even if the Spurs didn't have Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Marco Belinelli. But they're still the Spurs, with Tim Duncan and everything, and the Bobcats scored 100 points against them, and that's something that I like to see.
Really, it was a good game overall for the Bobcats, but, you know ... Spurs. Despite the final score, the defense did hold up for a while, holding San Antonio to 41 first-half points, on 38.5 FG% / 46.2 3P% / 83.3 FT% shooting. The Spurs are always going to do some things well, but holding them to 38.5 field goal shooting percentage in the first half is a pretty big accomplishment. That changed in the second half, but in the Bobcats' defense, it's hard to play strong defense when Patty Mills hits just about every shot he takes, regardless of things like where he is on the floor, and the number of defenders in his face. Mills, who came off the bench, finished with 32 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the floor.
Mills led the Spurs past the Bobcats in the fourth quarter, and he was helped out by good performances down the stretch from Nando de Colo, Cory Joseph, and ... sigh ... former Bobcat Boris Diaw. Despite that subpar halftime figure, the Spurs finished the game with a 46.8 field-goal percentage, and topped off their scoring with 35 in the final stanza.
That's enough about the Spurs, though. Here's the player grades for the Bobcats.
Josh McRoberts: In the first quarter, when everything seemed to go right for the Bobcats, McRoberts grabbed four rebounds, which led the team through that first frame. He didn't get another rebound for the rest of the game. He shot well, going 3-for-5 for seven points, knocking down one of his three attempts from behind the arc. It was a game of ups and downs for McRoberts, who also committed a terrible turnover at perhaps the worst possible time, attempting to follow up a steal by making a quick outlet pass to Kemba Walker. But a Spurs defender got in the way and either deflect the ball or hit McRoberts' hand -- you be the judge -- but only after he was allowed to get right in McRoberts' space. This happened with a potential comeback mounting and only about 30 seconds remaining in the game. Grade: C-
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: As usual, MKG played a solid defensive game and was tasked with guarding multiple positions. It's become a staple of Steve Clifford's defense that players like Kidd-Gilchrist, McRoberts, Gerald Henderson and Anthony Tolliver (among most of the other players, to be fair) will have to guard players of varying sizes and skill sets across the game, and it's a strategy that's mostly worked, due to Kidd-Gilchrist's terrific play this season. He finished tonight's game with a season-high twelve rebounds, half of them coming on the offensive end, in large part to positioning and an aggressive, high-motor playing style. While he finished with only four points on 2-for-7 shooting, all but two of his attempts came at the rim, so he's becoming more efficient (even without a reliable three-point shot), and it's paying off for the whole team. Grade: B
Al Jefferson: I never expected to say this, but the turning point for San Antonio came when Jefferson's defender switched from Tim Duncan to Boris Diaw. Jefferson couldn't miss in the first quarter, but finished only 12-for-21, which, to be fair, is still terrific, but coming off a 6-for-7 start meant he finished ... ahem, *only* 6-for-14 for the rest of the game. Okay, Jefferson's played really well recently, and this game wasn't an exception. If it wasn't for Jefferson, the great start to the game wouldn't have happened, and the game definitely wouldn't have finished this closely. Grade: A-
Kemba Walker: Kemba was playing well. Then he missed a bunch of shots. Then he hit a few in a row. In between, he set up his teammates for a lot of buckets, finishing with eight assists. I'm not sure how much of the Patty Mills breakout game I can blame him for, given that Tony Parker didn't play particularly well, but I don't think Kemba stood out defensively by any means. He definitely could've done much better than 7-for-19 shooting, but his 18 total points were nice. I still don't think he's at 100%, and maybe that played a factor, but he wasn't the Kemba Walker we're used to tonight. Kemba fouled out too, which was weird; I didn't even notice he was in foul trouble until he had to go to the bench. Grade: B
Gerald Henderson: Henderson's line looks remarkably like Kemba's: 8-for-19 for 23 points (I mean, one more made three-pointer here, a couple extra free throw attempts there and maybe if you squint and look at them together). Henderson got five rebounds and four assists, but also turned the ball over four times. His defense was again solid, and he provided points that this team so desperately needed when the Spurs offense started scoring. There was a lot to pick apart and criticize, but Henderson filled in the team's needs pretty well tonight. Grade: B-
Anthony Tolliver: I feel like every time I cover a game, Anthony Tolliver does something right. Today it was his 2-for-4 mark from three-point range and seven rebounds, plus his defensive versatility that I alluded to in the section on Kidd-Gilchrist. He made some mistakes on the defensive end, but not enough to cancel out his positive overall impact. Grade: B
Cody Zeller: Zeller was made physically uncomfortable by the much-larger Duncan and Diaw, and, at times, Jeff Ayres too. The Spurs were just too physical for Zeller, who will need some time to improve that area of his game, and he could really only offer value in help defense, as he was his usual self on offense tonight. On the bright side, his disadvantage on the physical end of things might have resulted in his getting to the line way more often than usual. He hit four of six from the line. Grade: C-
Bismack Biyombo: If you've read my posts, you might know that I'm usually Team Bismack. Keeping that in mind, he had probably his worst game of the season tonight, offering very little help on the defensive end, which is where he typically creates all of his value. Due to his normal impact on offense -- he missed one shot -- Biyombo finished with a -13 +/- in only ten minutes. I know +/- shouldn't be used in small sample sizes, and probably not for individuals, but I can't ignore how bad of a mark that is. And he looked that bad tonight. Grade: D
Ramon Sessions: Sessions is the only bench player that can realistically be called upon to add double-digit points (and given that McRoberts and Kidd-Gilchrist are definitely not in that role, it's important for someone outside the starting unit to be able to add significant scoring), so it was good that he offered up ten points on 4-for-9 from the floor. He has been turnover-prone for most of the year, but he only lost the ball once tonight, and was pretty proficient with ball movement, adding five assists. I can't complain about what Sessions offered tonight. He did well, and it was great to see the Kemba-Sessions backcourt work well together again. Grade: B
Jannero Pargo: According to the official box score, Pargo played ten seconds. I'm inclined to believe the scorekeeper. Grade: Incomplete