Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Bobcats wrap up their four-game west coast swing tonight in Denver, thankfully. Charlotte has yet to win on this trip, has lost 14 straight and is giving up and average of 112 points per game in the last three.
Gametime: 9:00 PM EST
Big Boi ft. ASAP Rocky & Phantogram - Lines [Lyrics] (via iKrissParkins)
Even though this 14-game losing streak is starting to give off the same bobcat carcass smell of last year's epic run to the bottom, it's not there...not yet. Hopefully we won't plunge to those depths again this year but 14-game losing streaks can bring back memories like that real quick.
We know this team is light years away from whatever that was last year, and that is good news. Last night Bismack Biyombo recorded his first double-double of the season (12 points, 14 rebounds and no turnovers), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had another nice outing (12 points, six boards), Kemba Walker had a heck of a first half (16 points, did nothing in the second), and Gerald Henderson had a great game (23 points) until tweaking his right leg late, but he did return. As of right now it's not definite that he'll play, so we'll see.
So there are some good things. (*Repeat to self: "There are some good things.")
But the bad are outweighing the good right now and have been for some time. The Bobcats rank last or close enough to last to taste it in so many defensive categories.
- Opponents' field goal percentage: 26th.
- Opponents' three-pointers made: 30th.
- Opponents' three-pointers taken: 30th.
- Opponents' three-point percentage: 30th.
- Opponents' points per game: 30th.
- Opponents' offensive rebounding: 27th.
And that last one is of particular concern tonight. Rebounding has been an issue for the Bobcats since there were Bobcats, and tonight they face a team that ranks first in offensive rebounds, sixth in defensive rebounds, and second in total rebounds in the league. The Nuggets' offensive rebound percentage is also first in the league. In case you were wondering the Bobcats' defensive rebound percentage is last in the league. Yeah-huh.
Kenneth Faried has a lot to do with those impressive rebounding numbers. He grabs about 10 a game, good for 11th in the league. But Faried also runs the floor with the controlled chaos of the Predator and chips in 12 points per contest to show for it.
Point guard Ty Lawson leads this team, although perhaps not as well as some thought before the season. It's not that Lawson isn't a good leader or a great point guard, but he sometimes fails to make a point of making is impact on the game. Lawson is lighting quick, and watching him go against Kemba Walker tonight should be fun. He can get to the rim whenever he wants and has good vision to find guys cutting or camped out beyond the three-point line (WARNING WARNING WARNING). His scoring may be the thing that Denver wanted to see more of. He's only averaging 14 points per contest, but is dropping seven assists to go along with that. His shooting from the field hasn't been great and he's curiously shooting just 69% from the free throw line.
Danilo Gallinari is a main beneficiary of many of those Lawson dimes. Averaging almost 16 points a game to lead the Nuggets, Gallinari can score inside and out.
Denver has long been billed as the team without a superstar but Andre Iguodala played for Team USA last summer, and is a veteran leader who ignites their defense, whilst still chipping in 14 points, five boards and four assists per game.
JaVale McGee comes of the bench for the Nuggets to delight anyone who has an Internet connection. McGee has been the author of some of the best comedic basketball plays over the last two seasons. His work goes viral almost instantly. But he's a physical freak, has cut down on those oddball plays and is a serious contributor for George Karl's team. His freakishly long arms and pogo-stick hops will be a problem for the Bobcats inside.
In (not so) short, the Nuggets are a more talented team than the Bobcats and that's nothing new for this team. It's also the second night of a back-to-back and that doesn't bode so well for the Bobcats either. If you want, through the altitude thing in there too. Despite all of those positives, the Nuggets are still just one game over .500 and after being billed by some as a dark horse title contender, have yet to show that potential just yet. This will be the Bobcats' last game until after Christmas when the Heat come calling and the last game of this west coast trip, thankfully.