TSP Andrew: My apologies for the latness of this recap, but a fever has had me under the weather since Wednesday. Fortunately Bruce put this recap together for me to share with you guys. Thanks Bruce!
Here we are again. It’s Wednesday and the Bobcats are in Phoenix for what feels like their umpteenth double-double of the season and we aren’t even out of December yet. Worse yet, they get one whole day off before they open up yet another double-double on the road to finish out the week. Phoenix has been struggling to stay above the .500 mark this season which means that the Bobcats should have a fighting chance if last night’s adrenaline flood in Los Angeles didn’t wash all the energy out of the team. Would they be able to put together a solid chance to steal victory number 8? Or would they find yet another way to suffer a heartbreaking loss? Well, the headline provides your answer, but if you want to know how it all went down, I’ll be waiting with the info on the next page.
Partially for the sake of some brevity but mostly because it wasn’t terribly exciting, I’ll tell you that the teams spent most of the first quarter trading baskets. The most optimistic sign for Felines Fans was that, unlike last game, the biggest Bobcats bodies were involved at the outset. Michael Kidd Gilchrist and Byron Mullens were both active in the opening minutes and each got busy aggressively attacking the basket. After the first, Phoenix held a slim lead at 28-27.
Quarter two was where Charlotte began to struggle. I’ve assailed the Bobcats defense fairly regularly of late and always feel badly about it after the fact, but for most of the quarter the Suns pretty much scored at will. Slow rotations and blown assignments were frequent. Phoenix didn’t need to actually run a pick & roll, all that had to do was yell the words and mismatches suddenly seemed to appear. The Bobcats combined their sluggishness at the defensive end with what I can only describe as their “Attention Deficit Disorder Offense.” They shot two for twelve in the first ten minutes of the quarter – when they managed a shot at all. By halftime the Cats had committed 10 turnovers including such unforced errors as a trio of shot clock violations and a back-court violation caused when Kemba dribbled the ball off the arch of his own foot. The Suns raced out to a 20 point lead before Charlotte chopped a pair of points off to close the half. It brought the Cats’ shooting up to 3 for 15 for the quarter while coughing up 36 points to Phoenix. Even Deadmau5 and Skrillex couldn’t find a good spin in those numbers. Halftime score; Phoenix 64-Charlotte 46.
As painful as that second quarter was to watch, I couldn’t help but feel like all the Cats needed to do was put up a bit of a fight and they could climb back into things. I looked at the first half stats and it was easy to see that the guys were playing with as much hustle as a snail with a broken foot. I’ll just give you one example. The Charlotte Bobcats bench produced a grand total of four (4) points for the entire half. They negated that by committing 4 of the Charlotte turnovers as well. The only surprise was that Phoenix failed to reach triple digits.
It took Shannon Brown 43 seconds of the third to score twice and stretch the lead out to 22 points for the Suns. Despite four tries inside the paint in a single possession, the Cats failed to put points on the board. The Charlotte starters were standing around like recent graduates of the Boris Diaw School of Offensive Nonchalance. Energy? A package of generic AAA batteries in the dusty 10 for a buck bin at Big Lots would give off more energy. The Suns lead grew to 27 before slowly sliding back to 21. I truly wish I were joking. The broadcast team literally resorted to showing highlight clips from the Lakers game in an effort to keep the last couple of dozen viewers tuned in. Shannon Brown was a one man wrecking crew for the Suns, scoring almost double his season average before the fourth quarter even began. Ben Gordon provided a late spark for the Cats, scoring six points in the closing moments, but when the third quarter mercifully ended it was all over but the yawning. Coach Dunlap finished a World of Warcraft quest on his I-pad and had started playing Uno with Tyrus Thomas behind the bench when the horn finally sounded. Blowout in progress score after three; 97-68.
For those thinking I’m being too harsh on this team we all love so much, I’ll say this in my defense; the first minute of the fourth quarter was almost over before Fox South bothered to return from the commercial break. That by itself speaks volumes. Unbelievably, the Bobcats opened up the quarter with a 10-0 run against the Suns scrubs before a Phoenix trey restored a semblance of reality to the proceedings. At just about that time, Stephanie Ready reported on the mood of the Bobcats during a timeout. Dell Curry asked her if the guys were still a bit demoralized from the Lakers game. She replied that the mood was actually very optimistic and excited. I had to wonder if she accidentally visited the wrong bench. Oddly enough, the Cats continued to beat on the Suns. At the midpoint of the quarter the Suns lead had slid to 15. It was enough to bring the Phoenix starters back into the game, but Charlotte was in far too deep a hole to mount a serious threat. The Suns simply ran down the clock and then rained in the threes. The final score; the Suns high over the Bobcats 121-104.
The Suns game turned out to be just as boring as the Lakers match was exciting. There were times tonight where the Bobcats defense sucked so badly that Coach Dunlap broke out in spontaneous hickies. To his credit, Mr. Mike took full responsibility for the loss saying that the team’s failure to come to the arena properly prepared was, “totally on me.” Unlike one of our former coaches however – *cough* *cough* Larry Brown *cough* *gag* - Coach Dunlap’s comments were full of sincerity.
If there are bright spots to be found in the carnage of such an exhausted performance they are in the performances of Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd Gilchrist. Kemba continued to make a strong run for NBA Player of the Week consideration, pouring in 27 points and dishing a half-dozen assists. MKG bounced back from a night of war with part-time Ghostbuster Dwight Howard to stuff a career-best 25 points into the face of Howard’s former teammate Marcin Gortat. He also added a dozen rebounds to end the night with an impressive double-double.
After a day off to lick wounds and mentally regroup, the Bobcats will resume action with the tougher half of their left-coast swing on Friday against Golden State. Game-time is 10:30 which means the first Steph Curry reference will occur at roughly 10:01. Once again I’ll be glued to the tube so I can be your sap wit’ da recap. See you then!