To paraphrase Roger Ebert, I hated this game. Hated hated hated hated hated this game. Hated it. In one of the worst offensive games I think I've ever seen a Charlotte basketball team play, the team put up 45 points in the first three quarters while offering up their entry for the least competitive NBA game of the year.
Like usual, just going by the final score doesn't really tell the whole story. The Hornets were down by almost thirty points at one stage in the game, before the Raptors decided they weren't going to try on defense for most of the fourth quarter (a defensible decision, as they're a playoff team in need of resting their starters, and also because they were up by a lot of points). The Hornets shot .283 from the floor in the first three quarters. To give you a sense of how terrible that is, here's an interesting stat: The last player to shoot .283 or worse in a full season played in 1952. He's so old that he still was allowed to play professional basketball even though his name was Howie. And the Hornets, as a team, amounted to Howie.
Want further context for how bad that is? The Hornets were doing that poorly against the Raptors, who rank 26th in the league in defensive efficiency. Yeah, they scored 45 points in 36 minutes against a bottom-five defense. At one point, thanks to two early three-pointers by Jeff Taylor, it looked like the Hornets would stay with the team that they've already beaten twice this year. Nope. They would stink for the rest of the game (until the deep bench-on-deep bench lineups the teams used in the fourth quarter).
If nothing else, this season has been an interesting experiment into finding out just how much emotional turmoil a team's fanbase can endure before suffering a complete mental breakdown. I'm not even convinced we've reached the lowest point yet. The Hornets have to play in Atlanta in two days, and I'm not sure that they'll break double digits. On Monday, they host the Rockets, and James Harden might outscore the entire team. Anything could happen. ESPN and Grantland's Bill Simmons once coined "The Tyson Zone," named after popular boxer/unpopular actor Mike Tyson, where someone's actions became so unpredictable that you'll believe any story you hear about them. The Hornets have now sunk so low that they've started to occupy a different space entirely, wherein I'll believe anything that shows how bad they are-- an area which I'll call "The Twilight Zone." It's not named in reference to the classic TV show, but rather due to the fact that at this point, the only thing worse than watching the Hornets would be sitting through a marathon of the Twilight movies.
It's just one of those games where nobody escapes blame. Obviously the poor shooting was the primary reason (we'll start with Marvin Williams failing to make a shot, and Mo Williams and Gerald Henderson both shooting 4-13 didn't help things either), but we can't just stop there-- not after a defeat this thorough. Bismack Biyombo still isn't a factor offensively outside of working the boards for put-backs and tip-ins. Kemba Walker scored 15 points, but not efficiently, and that's troublesome for the point guard on a team that suffers from a lack of scoring. Jeff Taylor hit a pair of shots early, but struggled on both ends of the floor after that, and he's thought of as a solid defensive player. Jason Maxiell grabbed two rebounds in 18 minutes, and doesn't seem to do anything other than be large. P.J. Hairston couldn't hit a shot until Toronto's scrubs entered the game. Noah Vonleh looked incredibly raw and a little overwhelmed by the strong Raptors frontcourt. Troy Daniels and Brian Roberts...actually played alright, but neither of them got any real burn until the Raptors also went to their deep bench. Steve Clifford's offensive system definitely didn't do the players any favors tonight (also the reverse is also very true, but nobody escapes blame for this game). Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller are injured, thus proving their lack of invincibility, and I'd just like to see better effort from them on that front. Rich Cho could have done way better with this team, like trading Jannero Pargo for Klay Thompson, or something (I'm not actually mad at Cho, he's done the best he could, but nobody escapes blame). There was probably also some food vendor who spilled someone's drink on their head. I don't know, nobody escapes blame, it could've happened. Twilight Zone.
Anyway, look forward to *looks at schedule; mutters obscenities to self* uh, the draft lottery, I guess. I think at this point the Hornets are owed some good karma, so maybe they'll end up with a high lottery pick.