Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 12/20/11

There were games not between the Lakers and Clippers last night?  Yes, yes there were, and in one of them something happened that you don’t often see in an NBA game of any sort; preseason, regular season, or postseason: how ’bout a rookie taking over down the stretch to the tune of his team’s final five points in a 79-77 victory.  That’s what Kemba Walker did for the Charlotte Bobcats last night as he nailed a jumper and converted on a floater between four Hawks to give the ‘Cats the lead two times over.  His fifth point came at the stripe, where he failed to put the game out of reach, but did make it a three-point game with just seconds to go.  I think we can forgive him for one missed freethrow.  After all, he went 9-11 from the line in the game.

Kemba missed on 9 of his 13 shots as he scored his game-high 18 points.  Am I any less impressed by his first (preseason) NBA game because of it?  Not really.  As a matter of fact, he could’ve taken all the same shots, failed to make a single one, and still impressed at the offensive end, because the most telling thing he did was take the big shots, not make them.  Remember, this is a game which holds no real consequences for a missed shot.  It’s not like the Bobcats would’ve dropped a close one to a division rival because Kemba was unable to convert.  So that means there was no pressure, right?  Wrong.  Preseason is time for a young player to show and prove.  Yeah, you’ve done it in college, but can you do it for us?  By taking those two shots, Kemba proved that he has the combination of talent and confidence to get good looks in isolation situations.  The Bobcats happen to be in desperate need of a player who can do such a thing.

So, the fact that he made the shots makes it something to write a blog post about, but it really isn’t what makes the showing impressive.  Kemba stepped up and created two good looks out of nothing.  He knew he was the only scoring threat on the floor, so he made sure he was the one to take the shots, even under great duress.  He was forced to pass the ball to DeSagana Diop prior to that tough floater, but he made sure he rushed to Diop to take the ball back before any mistakes could be made.  He then split two defenders off the dribble and floated the ball up over two more despite being a little off balance.  As soon as that ball hit the rim Kemba had completed a play that no one else on the floor could’ve made.  The ball then happened to fall through the rim, so the Bobcats won the pointless game and all 327 fans in attendence celebrated vigorously. 

I’m not trying to sit here and say there’s no difference between made and missed shots, because there obviously is.  What I’m trying to say is that the first step towards making big shots in meaningful games is stepping up to take big shots in meaningless ones.  It’s a helluva step to take in your first game as a professional… but he took it, and now he can move on to the next one.

Another Bobcat who looked great in this contest was Derrick Brown.  He was the game’s most active player from start to finish with 10 points and 10 boards, which included a pair of beautiful putback dunks.  Here’s the one that I thought was second best…

Can’t find the other one.  Other observations I made during this game include the following: Brad Wanamaker is what happens when Gilbert Arenas and Ron Artest have children.  Pape Sy is of extraterrestrial descent (not gonna link to a photo because I can’t find one that makes him look as strange as he did during the game).  I was very disappointed that Ismail Muhammed didn’t do anything like this, and I thought Tyrus Thomas and Josh Smith took way too many jumpshots.  Tyrus actually made a few of his, but I’d still rather not see him take five or six of them.  Josh Smith… I think he took three, two of which were airballs.  He should probably completely refrain from taking jumpers.

As for the Blazers and Jazz… here’s the box score.

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