ART THOU OUR SAVIOR, POPE MULLENS? - Streeter Lecka
In one of the most exciting games of the year, for the Cats, they end their 7 game losing streak against a tired Celtics team.
That was fun!
That's the statement that immediately came to my head as the final buzzer sounded and the Bobcats wrapped up their victory. It's nice to say that because it's not something Bobcats fans get to say often these days. Even if this one had ended in a loss, I'm fairly sure this game could have been called a fun game. Sure, it would have been more frustrating and the things the Bobcats did wrong - and yes, they did a lot of things wrong - would have been magnified, but the game was far too fun for all that to last long.
Let's start off with the negatives. The Cats again suffered from bad decision making as a team, especially in the 4th quarter. Too many times you see a guy choose to charge the basket despite Paul Pierce waiting for him ready to take the charge. Bad shot selection plagues every NBA team but this one seems to suffer from it the most. Contested jump shots, shots being taken from just inside the 3 point line, lack of passing, and lack of talking and movement on defense (WHY DOES THE INTERIOR NOT KNOW HOW TO MAKE A ROTATION?). These are all problems that the Cats have suffered from all year and will probably continue to suffer from the rest of the season.
A new problem we saw tonight was a random night of bad free throw shooting. The Bobcats took 30 free throws, which is excellent. The only problem was they missed 10 of them. This has not been a consistent problem all season but it shows its ugly head occasionally. The 4th quarter alone was rife with mistakes. I found the decision to not put in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist during the 4th quarter was interesting. The Sessions, Henderson, and Mullens were all playing well at the time so this isn't really a complaint but more of an interesting observation. What I really didn't understand was the decision to not get Mullens the ball more during the 4th quarter. Mullens was 10/16 with 25 points at the end of the 3rd quarter, problem? He finished with 25 points 10/16 from the field. Your highest, most efficient scorer of the game and you can't get him open?
All right, enough negativity, what about the positives! OK, I'm just going to start off with the Byron Mullens heat check. During the 3rd quarter Mullens got warm and was making shots. After a jump hook on the right block to give Mullens 20 points, the Bobcats came up court after a rebound following a Celtics possession. Mullens ran up to the 3 point line, caught the ball, and immediately launched a three. Can you say heat check? And the best part? He made the shot, everybody went nuts, and I died laughing. Mullens didn't just score tonight, either; he had 18 rebounds including a key board that locked up the victory for the Cats after the Celtics missed a last second 3 point attempt.
Bismack Biyombo had a few blocks tonight and appeared to have an idea of what he was doing on the defensive side of the ball. His help defense is terrific this year which has been a great positive for the team regarding his development. Kemba had another solid night and Henderson made some big plays. Another thing I liked is Mike Dunlap's continued development from college head coach to NBA head coach. He's using his timeouts at better times and is showing some improvement.
All in all, tonight was one of those nights where all the improvements the team has made this season shined against a very tired Celtics team. I don't want to rain on our parade but we have to remember this Celtics team was coming off a triple OT loss on a back-to-back. They were incredibly tired, not an easy game for them. Actually this was a game that most teams are supposed to win. At home, other team on a road back-to-back and you know what? The Cats did win. That's the biggest improvement of all. The Cats won.
Bobcat of the Night: Byron Mullens 10/16, 25 Points, 18 Rebounds, 4/5 from 3, 4 Assists