The Bobcats lost to the Jazz 110-102 Saturday night. Coach Larry Brown pulled the starters with more than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, save Gerald Wallace, probably figuring the game was headed for garbage time. However, the reserves mounted a comeback, led by D.J. Augustin, getting within six. There just weren't enough possessions, though, and Utah's crunch time lineup managed to hold on for the victory.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.
-- There has to be a certain point after which we can't just disagree with the decision to play Stephen Graham, but try to do something concrete about it. LB played him about 10 minutes before garbage time. Graham has proven this season that he's completely useless to this team, and this game was no different. If he's just going to be filler on the wing while Stephen Jackson takes a breather, why can't Gerald Henderson do it, if only to put the NBA game and its speed in front of him? I've never said Henderson would certainly be a difference maker for the Bobcats, but I'd like to find out if he might be, yet we know hardly anything about what he can do because LB refuses to play him in favor of the proven mediocrity.
Henderson hit a three pointer and played unembarrassing defense in garbage time, which happened to be against the Jazz starters. He should get some of Stephen Graham's minutes. Derrick Brown got a DNP-CD. He should get some of Stephen Graham's minutes. Graham played the bulk of those early 10 minutes after Boris Diaw got his fourth foul in the third quarter, and LB went with a lineup of Felton, Jackson, Graham, Wallace, Chandler. That seems like the perfect situation to play either of the rookies, but apparently Stephen Graham is the coach's son, or something.
Graham in 2009: .154 3P% (2-13). 11.1 Pts/36. 5.0 Reb/36. 1.5 Ast/36. 8.7 PER. This is insane. That I'm highlighting this and we're already a quarter of the way through the season is insane. If I took over player personnel decisions, the first thing I'd do is cut Graham and bring back Dontell Jefferson or another D-League swingman. Make it stop. I beg you, Coach Brown.
-- I was happy to see Tyson Chandler spending most of his time on Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap instead of Mehmet Okur, but Boozer and Millsap torched the Cats, and Chandler couldn't get anything going on offense. He didn't rebound, either, ending up with 2 points, both free throws, and only 5 rebounds in 32 minutes.
-- Boris Diaw scored 8 points in the first quarter, and then not at all the rest of the game. He did get 5 assists, but he also only managed 3 rebounds. I'm leaning more and more to the point of view that Jax makes Diaw's uniqueness less an advantage than a liability. We'd probably be better off on the first unit with an more traditional power forward than we are with Boris's reverse skill set. Here's an idea: when Augustin is in, he makes an ideal front court partner because they have similar skill sets, and that redundancy from those positions might be particularly difficult to address.
-- Gerald Wallace played 45 minutes and was a game changer the entire time. Take your pick of highlights: 30 points on 16 attempts from the field (10-13 from the line), or 13 rebounds, or his ridiculous block on Ronnie Brewer's fast break layup attempt, or the ridiculous block he made on a Deron Williams shot that was ruled a goaltend (I wasn't sure from my upper deck angle). In all respects, Wallace looked like the best player on the floor, right there with Boozer and Williams, All Stars through and through.
-- D.J. Augustin was handed the keys to the offense in a low-stakes situation, and he made the most of it. In the first three quarters, most of his minutes were against Jazz backup point guard, Eric Maynor, but in the fourth, when Augustin did most of his damage, he played against Williams, a far bigger, stronger, guard. D.J. finished with 16 points on only 6 attempts from the field, thanks to a three pointer and going 9-10 from the line. He only got 1 assist, but that's who he is. He's a good scorer in the Damon Stoudemire mold, and when he's at his best, he's also got a little of Devin Harris in him, driving the lane to create contact. When he's allowed to be himself, this is the kind of game that can happen.