Let's be honest: none of us expected the Bobcats to win this game. None of us expected the Bobcats to keep it close. But I don't think any of us expected the Bobcats to be beaten to such a degree.
Even without Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton, the Chicago Bulls are the better team on paper. They're bigger, stronger, more experienced and better coached. Thibodeau is one of the better coaches that the NBA has to offer, and the Bulls proved that with an abusive performance against the Bobcats.
I'll give credit where credit is due: the Bobcats are a terrible team offensively, and the Bulls are an exceptional defensive team. I actually had a wager with a friend before the game. I bet five dollars that the Bobcats would score more than 65 points tonight. He said less, and I am now five dollars poorer.
There wasn't a lot to take from this game. The Bobcats appeared to come out strong in the first couple of minutes, but their inability to hit shots and hold onto the ball quickly allowed the Bulls to establish themselves. By the end of the quarter, the score was already unacceptable. The Cats shot 31.8% for 16 points while the Bulls shot 52% for 30 points.
A returning Corey Maggette (4 points, 2/7 FGs, 3 turnovers in 13 minutes) offered little help on either end, showing no apparent rust but electing to continually launch 22 foot jump shots early in the clock. The one time he did drive (after passing up two very open jumpers), he was stripped by Joakim Noah and Paul Silas had enough mind to take him out soon after.
Tyrus Thomas (2 points, 1/5 FGs, 3 blocks in 23 minutes) also looked terrible in limited minutes. You know, the usual. Pulling up for contested jumpers 18 feet from the rim and fouling on both ends. He did block a few shots, but what really stood out was an incident in which he yelled at Bismack Biyombo. Couldn't hear what he was saying, but it was loud and he was furious.
A bright spot for the Bobcats was the play of Bismack Biyombo (8 points, 3/5 FGs, 10 rebounds in 30 minutes), who inexplicably appeared to be the only player with any awareness on either end (save Reggie Williams, I guess). Biz looked better than I've seen him this year. The stats don't stand out like in some of his other games, but the development he has displayed in such a short period of time is very encouraging. He knew where to be on defense at all times and was aware of the rotations that he needed to make. He had a few lapses, but that's to be expected. It was also great to see him attack the Bulls' brawny front line with some success. Noah could not get an easy rebound tonight. He had to fight Biz on every possession.
As I alluded to earlier, Reggie Williams (6 points, 3/10 FGs in 27 minutes) had a decent game despite his poor shooting. Outside of Diaw and Augustin, he's easily the team's best passer and probably has the most awareness on the offensive end. He reads the defense exceptionally well and rarely makes the wrong decision. Unfortunately his shot wasn't falling tonight, and neither were his team mates'. In the second quarter alone, Williams would have had 5 assists had any of the Bobcats made a shot. But alas, such is the reality of a rebuilding team.
The majority (and by majority, I mean almost all) of the Bobcats' plays were isolations that ended in contested midrange jumpers (or turnovers, if you're a masochist). The team sorely misses D.J. Augustin, as Kemba Walker (9 points, 2/11 FGs, 5 assists in 31 minutes) is not yet prepared to run an offense effectively. Kemba had a poor night as well, occasionally hidden by would-be highlights. He did, however, have 5 assists and 0 turnovers. The potential is undoubtedly there, he just needs a year or two to figure it all out.
By contrast, the Bulls were dominant inside. Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah all had their way with the Bobcats' bigs, combining for 41 points on 51% shooting. I had yet to see a game until tonight where the lack of talent at center was so apparent. Diaw is not a viable option, nor is Mullens. And Diop? ..................
All in all, this game finished the way everyone thought it would. It was ugly, it was a blow out in which little could be learned from, and it wasn't over soon enough. As I've said in the past, this season isn't about this season. It's about next season and the season after. It's about assessing the talent that the Bobcats have now, and preparing to add pieces with the draft and free agency. This team has talent. There's no question about that. When healthy, the Bobcats are certainly not the worst team in the league. And things can only get better.