Last night, the Bobcats beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Charlotte before hopping on a plane to Memphis for tonight's game. After logging close to 40 minutes yesterday, the Bobcats' starters looked exhausted against the Grizzlies, and rightfully so -- they've played five games in the last seven days. So, if the Bobcats were to win against the Grizzlies, their bench had to step up. It didn't.
That's no surprise, however, as the Bobcats' bench has lacked consistency all season. There isn't a go-to scorer off of the bench, nor a defensive stalwart or energy ball. Bismack Biyombo had a decent game (six points, five rebounds and three blocks) but his efforts alone were not enough. Cody Zeller picked up five fouls. Gary Neal missed six of his nine shots. Luke Ridnour accomplished two points on six (!) shots. Anthony Tolliver shot better than 50 percent but was otherwise invisible. Don't expect to win many back-to-backs when your bench comes up short.
Let's not dump this loss on the bench, though. They played last night as well and they too looked tired. It's hard to hit your jumpers when your legs don't cooperate, and moving defensively isn't any easier. Basically, I don't want to blame anyone. The Bobcats were physically and mentally drained. I mean, they turned the ball over on a five second call halfway through the first quarter.
Their defense was uninspired, tentative, and selfish. Help rarely came on time (if it did at all), allowing Mike Conley to drain five of his seven 3-point attempts and Kosta Koufos to throw down a few dunks. Overall, the Bobcats gave up 15 points from behind the line and 60 points in the paint. The Bobcats also failed to get back on defense, which resulted in 17 fastbreak points for the Grizzlies.
Offensively, the Bobcats were the same. The ball didn't move well without the help of Kemba Walker and Josh McRoberts, and most possessions ended in isolation jump shots. Al Jefferson looked fresh early in the game, spinning baseline for easy, open looks at the basket against the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol. However, he failed to convert most times and ended up turning 17 shots into 17 points in 26 minutes.
Chris Douglas-Roberts filled in nicely for the injured Gerald Henderson, scoring 15 points on 10 shots. He's been excellent since arriving in Charlotte. I've always been a huge fan of his game, and it's nice to see him maturing. Douglas-Roberts is far too talented to float around the league. Kudos to Rich Cho for picking him up.
All in all, this loss is a write-off. The Bobcats never got into a groove and the game slipped more and more away from them as time went on. I'm not mad, though. You can't fix exhaustion without adequate rest. Luckily, the Bobcats get just that next week with only three games on their schedule.