For some reason, I'm not as downbeat as I was last night.
And yet, I don't feel like complaining. Oh, were there plenty of things to complain about, though! (But we'll get to those later) Maybe I've reached the 'loser's nirvana", where the result doesn't concern me. Last night, I was more or less embarrassed to say I watch the Bobcats play. They didn't hustle and were thoroughly dominated in all aspects save for free throws and blocks. Tonight it was the same story. Charlotte wasn't quite as astonishingly bad on offensive boards, but were still dismantled by an even-worse team.
Or maybe it's because the rookies played well. Kemba Walker was as efficient as his statline suggests, and more so. He had 16 points on eight field goal attempts, to go with two assists, two steals, two rebounds and two turnovers. He also looked much better on the pick and roll, finding the big man. Unfortunately on multiple of those situations, the good passes were negated by an offensive foul elsewhere, or Byron Mullens uncharacteristically missed a wide open jumper. Bismack Biyombo was pretty good, too. I am well aware Ben Wallace is practically a ghost, but one doesn't just lose rebounding fundamentals. Biyombo had a couple nice rebounds against him, but did not score against the five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team center. Biyombo really impressed in the first half, when in only eight minutes on the court, he tallied five blocks and had good quick hands on defense. Brandon Knight will have to think twice about driving with Biyombo waiting the next time these two play against each other.
Without that, I probably would have been more despondent about this game. Hit the jump for more reactions.
Usually I take notes during the game to make note of specific plays, trends I'm noticing throughout a quarter/half/game, or just whatever pops into my head. Tonight I wrote one note: "Defense porous. Not physical". And that pretty much sums up why the Bobcats lost this game. The Pistons were deeply rooted into the paint all night, giving the Bobcats a two-hour-long metaphorical colonoscopy. Greg Monroe established deep position on Byron Mullens all night. The Bobcats starting frontcourt doesn't have the strength to defend someone like Greg Monroe. On the other side of things, Boris Diaw had his own fair share of trouble with the quicker, longer Jonas Jerebko, whose finishing touch stymied his defenders from tipoff to until he left the hardwood. With the third quarter in the books, the Pistons had 50 points in the paint, while the Bobcats had 50 points total at that time. The Pistons would go away from the strategy in the fourth, adding only two points in the paint in the final quarter.
Tyrus Thomas once again started at small forward, guarding Tayshaun Prince. He was okay on Prince, defensively at least, though Prince is hardly a big offensive threat. Thomas' offensive performance was hardly notable either. He hit three of his four made field goals on spot-up jumpers. Only one Thomas field goal was made in the paint. The problem with Thomas at small forward on offense is that he can't handle the ball. He's too tall, and as such can't keep a low dribble.
The other really bad idea of the night was zone defense. Featuring slow (and sometimes non-existent) rotations and close-outs, the Bobcats defense permitted the Pistons to transition from dominating the paint to extending into the midrange and the land beyond the arc. In the fourth quarter, Detroit hit four threes in consecutive possessions, ending any hopes or intentions the Bobcats had on closing the scoring gap. If the Bobcats did any communicating on the court on defense, it must have been in whispers or via ESP.
As for the rest of the Bobcats, they were mostly forgettable. Byron Mullens and D.J. Augustin are really becoming quite comfortable with each other on the court, forming quite the duo. I lost count of how many alley-oops on which the two connected. Yet, as good as Mullens' hands are in grabbing a lob out of the air, he's still a wholly unimpressive rebounder. He's also a poor defender. He's not strong enough to guard big men on the block and his feet aren't quick enough in reacting on pick and rolls. Augustin was wheelin' and dealin' as a distributor, but didn't become aggressive in finding his own shot until the second half. Still, I can't be mad at 13 assists and two turnovers. Gerald Henderson and Boris Diaw were both practically invisible. Diaw's stat line suggests otherwise, but he really wasn't good tonight on either side of the court. He never found his shot (nor did he make a truly concerted effort) and struggled maneuvering in the paint.
At least the rookies both turned on their 'Don't Play Like Utter Poop' switch and gave me something to like about tonight. Now if only some of the other guys would turn on that switch, too.