The Observer won't tell you
the most important reason the Bobcats beat the Milwaukee Bucks last night, 102-92
. Rick Bonnell generally does a fine job as a reporter, but his commentary is severely lacking, and this is one instance in which to whom he assigns credit for the victory shows what he is missing. Andrew Bogut, the Bucks' starting center, was a late scratch due to back spasms. Dan Gadzuric started in his spot, Francisco Elson got some run off the bench, and Charlie Villanueva was forced into an uncomfortable center role. All of this had a cascade effect that led to the Bobcats' win.
Let's get an idea of who the Bucks' backups are. Instead of getting a 13/12 per 36 minutes guy in there, as Bogut has been this year (his true talent is probably somewhere closer to 14/11), a combination of Gadzuric and Elson played. Ideally, Gadzuric would play Bogut's minutes, and Elson would play Gadzuric's minutes. Unfortunately, going from Bogut's true talent to Gadzuric's is going from 14/11 to 11/10, and going from Gadzuric to Elson is 11/10 to 9/8. I'll go ahead and make the huge assumption that the man and help defense goes unaffected (In this game, to my eye, it didn't). It's not hard to imagine that losing Bogut's scoring and rebounding abilities cost the Bucks in the neighborhood of 8 points per game.
Once Bogut was declared inactive, we still needed two heroes to step up: Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace. Luc Mbah a Moute had his hands full trying to contain Diaw, who continued his torrid run since coming over from the Suns. During his time in Charlotte, he's essentially played to the level he did in his career year, 2005-06. The thing is--and I hate to be That Guy who points this out--it would be a major miracle if Diaw sustained the run because while his line looks the same, he's also turning the ball over a lot more, and his uptick in scoring is predicated on doubling his three point attempts and making them at a ridiculous 50% rate. The best three point percentage for a season, ever, is 52%. Diaw will fall back to his established 30%-33%, and then we'll find out if he's changed and can find other ways to contribute, or if he's the same guy he's always been, just on a hot streak.
Wallace started the game slowly, but he took over the game and took things into his own hands when it mattered. The turning point came when Scott Skiles, probably frustrated with the poor play of Gadzuric and Elson, went small for small's sake. This is almost always a bad idea, as going small only works if the team also changes its style and tries to fly by the opposition instead of working methodically in the half court. In this case, it was doubly bad, because when the Bucks put Ridnour, Bell, Redd, Jefferson, and Villanueva out there, it meant the defensive assignments were all screwed up, so the Bucks went to a sort of zone. Villanueva struggled with Okafor in the paint. But more important, Jefferson was taken off Wallace, and Gerald capitalized.
-- The game was out of reach, but Charlotte let Milwaukee almost make it interesting. The 10 point win was actually a bit more dominant than that might indicate.
-- Ryan Hollins: inactive. Alexis Ajinca: 1 minute, 17 seconds. Everyone loses! I mean, it's not hard to manage this issue. Both dudes need to play and get coached. If one is going to be inactive all the time, send him to the freaking D-League. I understand Larry Brown wants to mold Ajinca personally, seeing as Brown is widely considered responsible for drafting him, but good organizations don't waste their inactive players
. Send Sean May to the D-League to play his ass into shape. Send either Hollins or Ajinca to the D-League to play thirty minutes every game. And keep the last slot for injured players.
-- With Zydrunas Ilgauskas out for at least a month
, might Emeka be the leading candidate to back up Dwight Howard at center for the Eastern Conference?