CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 10: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Houston Rockets drives pas Matt Carroll #33 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 10, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
In a game dominated by defensive plays and missed jump shots, the Bobcats lost to the Rockets, defeated by an 82-70 score. The Bobcats struggled to generate any offensive flow throughout the game, leading to long stretches with little to no scoring. Despite playing relatively close to an expectedly decent team for much of the game, the loss is as discouraging as any the Bobcats have faced during the young season. More on what ailed the Bobcats' tonight and player comments after the jump.
This was the worst performance I've seen from the Bobcats thus far this season. On a night when two of the Rockets' three best players (Kevin Martin and Luis Scola) turned in very poor games and the third, Kyle Lowry, played below average by his standards, the Bobcats failed to take advantage. It's an understood point that the Bobcats are going to lose most of their games, and that's perfectly acceptable. They're a rebuilding team. However, that doesn't mean progress and quality play can't be pursued. Tonight, the Bobcats were completely stagnant as a unit, without energy, direction, or a general understanding of how to attack a Rockets' defense that's been frequently abysmal to open the season.
Two things particularly bothered me about tonight's game: the Bobcats' virtually nonexistent offensive movement and inability to take advantage of weak interior defense. The first problem mentioned was a huge issue Tuesday night, as many Bobcats' possessions ended in mostly unsuccessful Boris Diaw, Kemba Walker, or D.J. Augustin forced iso sets. These rarely worked and created few open looks for the Bobcats. The second problem, that of little interior post-ups or penetration, has been a frequent one for the team. This problem is twofold, partly due to a lack of big men able to succeed in post-up opportunities and guards that have failed to make the necessary passes. Besides Byron Mullens's quality night, the Bobcats were unable to find many open looks inside the interior, a critical failure against a team like the Rockets.
In any case, the Bobcats' loss isn't the central problem. The primary issue lies in the team's inability to show offensive improvements or develop players through quality possessions. Players can learn and improve more easily through legitimate offensive movement, and the Bobcats failed greatly in that aspect tonight. I'm fairly confident that'll differ in a positive way as the season continues, but this game was not one to remember.
D.J. Augustin: Augustin struggled to find other open Bobcats all night, providing only three assists in 29 minutes. He also struggled to score (4-13 FG, 11 points), and looked generally out of sync. Grade: C-
Gerald Henderson: Though Henderson didn't have a particularly efficient night (6-14 FG, 12 points), he seemed to be one of the few Bobcats able to create an open look for themselves. In a game like this, that was enough to earn a mediocre grade. Grade: C+
Boris Diaw: This was the worst game of Diaw's season, as he scored only four points on 2-14 shooting. It's difficult not to wince at that line. His eight rebounds weren't enough to make up for such putrid shooting, though his continued determination to shoot and miss shots can be partly blamed on the Bobcats' lack of offensive movement. Still, this was a thoroughly terrible game from Diaw. Grade: F
DeSagana Diop: Diop played only 13 minutes and was ineffective in pretty much all of them. One rebound and three turnovers indicate his performance pretty accurately. Grade: D
Matt Carroll: Not a great night for Carroll (four points on 2-6 FG in 17 minutes), but the same could be said for almost every Bobcat. Grade: C
D.J. White: The usually efficient White shot only 4-10 from the field for nine points, but managed to provide six rebounds in 26 minutes. A mediocre night, I'd say, and a below-average game from him. Grade: C+
Byron Mullens: Mullens was the lone bright spot for the Bobcats on Tuesday night, providing 15 points (5-11 FG) and a sterling (especially for Mullens) 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. Mullens continues to both play well and garner deserved, significant minutes. Grade: A- (Note: This grade was given mostly for his unexpected rebounding.)
Kemba Walker: Not a particularly good game from Walker, as the perimeter defense of Kyle Lowry and others bothered him and Augustin throughout the night. Eight rebounds in 31 minutes is good, but only three assists and three turnovers isn't. Grade: C
Bismack Biyombo: Biyombo played only ten minutes and provided little (two rebounds, 0-1 FG), good or bad. He still seems to only have one primary post move (a simple hook shot), but that will change with time. Grade: C+