For the first time since 2010-2011, the Bobcats have 30 wins in a season. This is a major accomplishment for a franchise that's trying to move forward and get rid of the losing aura that has enveloped them for so long. The team has to be excited to enter their rebrand next season with something to actually look forward to.
The Bobcats came out on top tonight and I'd go so far as to say they won handily. Charlotte went up by double digits fairly early in the game and it never felt like they lost the control they gained. The Nuggets would go on mini runs occasionally but never anything too threatening to the lead. The Bobcats looked like the better team.
Part of why the Bobcats looked so much better was how poorly the Nuggets played at time. When you're playing a team as good on defense as Charlotte you need to play better than whatever it is Denver had out there tonight. It started off with sloppy ball security at the start of the game. Ten of the Nuggets' 15 turnovers came in the first half and it wasn't because of suffocating pressure defense or anything special, just taking care of the ball horribly. They cut down on the turnovers in the second half but that doesn't even scratch the surface of their problems when you consider the underwhelming defense they played and lazy shot selection.
Their rotations were god awful, partially due to a bad roster, but why would you ever go big with Jan Vesely, J.J. Hickson, and Darell Arthur? Arthur definitely is not a 3 and that frontcourt is so bad it gives me a headache. Then to go small they tried a lineup of Aaron Brooks, Ty Lawson, and Randy Foye? Maybe this lineup would be okay if Lawson was primary ball handler but for whatever reason they had Brooks bringing it up. I understand Brian Shaw doesn't have a fantastic roster to work with but these lineups were putrid. I still can't get past why you would ever take the ball out of Lawson's hands when he's the only guy producing; it's mind boggling.
As far as the Bobcats went, it was business as usual for them. Get the ball to Al Jefferson, who had 26 and 13 on 12-for-23 shooting, and run the offense through his shooting and decent passing skills. When they weren't doing that they were attacking from the perimeter with Kemba Walker (24 points on 6-for-15 shooting including 12 made free throws) using his speed and penetration skills to create good looks for himself and others. The defense was as good as always, doing a fantastic job of preventing Ty Lawson from penetrating and stopping most fastbreak opportunities before they could start. The Nuggets played slow most of the game, easily their worst play style and it was all thanks to the Bobcats defense.
What added to the Bobcats' offense for a little surprise was Gary Neal's powerful impact. Neal came off the bench and decided to score 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting with three triples. His scoring punch was greatly valued in a game where, despite a lot of good looks, the Bobcats struggled to hit shots. But that's going back into normal territory as far as the Bobcats offense goes.
As the season comes to a close the Bobcats appear to have found a consistent strategy on a night-to-night basis. While the defense has been the same for most of the season, we've seen the offense go through an adjustment here and there. Over the last few games the team has a clear idea of how they want to run things and what kind of game they want to play. There are only 18 games left in the season and with the Bobcats getting closer to a playoff lock it's good to see they have a consistent strategy down.