The Charlotte Bobcats lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 94-87 Saturday night. Here's a look at what went wrong, and what to build on in the future.
What player shot 1-3 in the first quarter, 1-9 in the second quarter, 5-7 in the third quarter, and 1-2 in the fourth quarter?
I'll give you a clue.
He took 11 of his shots from midrange, an area he is shooting 30% from on the season.
Need another clue?
His name rhymes with Dyin' Lulzins.
You're right! It IS Byron Mullens. You're so clever!
Mullens single-handedly carried the Grizzlies to victory tonight. I know, I know. I've never particularly liked Mullens, but if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I've warmed up to him considerably this year. He's been playing inside a bit more, is rebounding better than ever, and is playing a hair of defense.
Tonight, however, I was reminded why I don't like him. His shots weren't in the flow of the offense; every shot he took was forced.
Ben tweeted a fun little stat earlier: the Bobcats are 0-4 (now 0-5) when Mullens takes 19 or more shots. I'm just as surprised as you are.
Other stuff happened, too.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was limited to an unfortunate 21 minutes because of foul trouble. Foul trouble is becoming a bit of a trend for Kidd-Gilchrist, and while it isn't entirely his fault, he needs to be more aware of his situation. When he plays, he's a machine. He stockpiles rebounds, points, freethrow attempts, steals, and blocks with ease. In his limited time tonight, MKG tallied 12 points, 8 rebounds, 10 (!!!) freethrow attempts, a steal, and a block. That's ridiculous.
I understand the reasoning behind benching MKG, but Dunlap should let him figure it out on his own. His impact is immeasurable, and there's no doubt that the Bobcats play their best ball when MKG is on the floor. He's the catalyst for their offense, along with Kemba Walker.
Walker wasn't the dynamo he's usually been this year. He took 17 shots and only converted six of them, and also had four turnovers. Walker was bound to come down a bit, and considering his matchups (Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless, and Tony Allen), I'm comfortable with his performance. Conley is a known pest. Bayless is a huge, strong guard. Allen is one of the best defenders in the league. It's easy to criticize Walker for a subpar performance, but with his showings so far this season, tonight was an anomaly.
The Bobcats struggled to score against the Grizzlies, a product of an unusually stagnant halfcourt offense. There was a lot of standing around. A lot of letting other guys do stuff. A lot of forcing shots when touches were received. It was ugly. 28 of the Bobcats 85 shot attempts were from midrange. They converted seven. 13 of their attempts came from behind the three-point line. They made four. This cannot happen.
The only time the Bobcats scored with any consistency was on the break, where they had great success, scoring 24 points. This team is built to run, but they didn't until the fourth quarter. By then, it was too late.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a very, very good team. And despite the loss, the Bobcats kept the game close. They trailed early, but never let the Grizzlies break away and blow out the game. This is a welcome change from last year's team. If the Bobcats had made their freethrows (they shot 19-28 from the line, or 68%) they'd have won. Baby steps.
I don't think anyone expected the Bobcats to win this game, but it was nice to see them stick around and give the Grizzlies a scare late in the fourth quarter. When Henderson returns, this team might upset a team like Grizzlies in the future.
Overall, an entertaining but ugly game, and one that should bring fans back to earth. There's still a long way to go.