Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Indiana 12/16/09
The Indiana Pacers never trail in this game as they force Charlotte to play the game their way, winning 101-98. Bobcats fall into 8th place in the Conference at 10-14 while the Pacers improve to 9-14, just a half game back in the standings.
Last Friday, I got together with a few friends to screen Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – a post-apocalyptic love story starring Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron and an outstanding Robert Duvall (still bringing it almost 40 years after the Godfather). For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ll save you the trouble: Pretty much one of the most depressing films ever, just slightly less cheery than Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark and on par with The Charlotte Bobcats bleak journey away from home this season.
The Bobcats 1-11 road record is second only to New Jersey’s 1-15 but don’t lose hope Nets fans, every NBA team plays the same amount of away games and I’m sure that the Bobcats will equal your team’s ineptitude eventually.
Tonight’s game was a continuation of a disturbing trend in which the ‘Cats come out flat and stay unmotivated, keeping the game reasonably close until around the midway mark of the 4th quarter, then collectively hit “Turbo” in hopes that it will be enough to pull out the win. Sorry guys, the LA Lakers you are not.
At the two minute mark late in the third, I tweeted that Tyler Hansbrough must have forgotten his meds because he was starting something in the post with Stephen Jackson. Now, this was something like the third semi-dangerous elbow Tyler swung in this game. After the second one on JAX (which almost sent Stephen on his first Bobcat melee) I officially pulled a 180 and became a fan of Psycho T.
As an overrated, coddled local college star, Tyler Hansbrough was nothing more than a low-post, low-skilled Adam Morrison. A great white hope who would finally receive his comeuppance once he had to play with real men in the NBA. He was also a four-year senior, old by League standards. His selection in the lottery by the Pacers looked Bobcat-esque at the time.
Tyler’s transformation into a hard-nosed, underrated, hustle-stats, full-motor role player in the NBA has done the unthinkable. It’s made Psycho T likable. The “I don’t give a f**k” elbows and chicken wings that he threw at Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace suddenly made me think: Wow, what if Mark Madsen actually had skill and some athletic ability? Hansbrough’s fearlessness could eventually turn him into a sort of a frontcourt Raja Bell – a “Bosh Stopper” – within a few years. The NBA doesn’t have enough guys who really give a damn on every play and watching Hansbrough tonight, even though he shot poorly and fouled often, reminded me of his value both to his team and the League.
NOTE TO MJ: You Won Six Championships with the Team That Drafted You, Ya Think The Draft is Important?
Another game, another reminder of how poorly the Charlotte Bobcats have drafted over the years. Pacers superstar Danny Granger was out (selected just a couple of spots behind Sean May in ’05) but recent Pacer picks Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, A.J. Price and the aforementioned Psycho T were all major contributors this evening. While the Bobcats played only two drafted players: Ray Felton and D.J. Augustin (a combined 6-17 for 18 points and 9 assists).
Being a fan of a sub .500 team isn’t so bad when the organization is developing young talent and sticking to a long-term plan. This is not what the Bobcats are doing. No, MJ and Larry Brown have basically mortgaged the team’s future in the hopes of winning 39 games this season and sneaking into the Playoffs. This is ostensibly what’s happening today on Wall Street and in DC: Small, short-term gain in exchange for severe long-term pain. Let’s hope that the John Cusack movie was right because I’m not sure that any of us will want to be around after 2012 to watch this disaster in the making.
- As in Tuesday’s victory against the Knicks, both teams turned the ball over at a high rate, 37 combined for the game.
- What put Indy over was the fact that they shot 48% from the field against a usually solid defensive team.
- One play in particular that gave the Bobcats fits was the Jim O’Brian Special that swings the ball in transition back to the trailing big man Troy Murphy at the top of the 3-point line. Murphy has always been one of the League’s best shooters from dead-on but this new wrinkle makes the shot unguardable. At almost seven feet, Murphy might be the second best shooting PF in the game behind Dirk Diggler.
- Gerald Wallace played his tail off again going for 29 points and 12 boards. His turnovers continue to be a problem (5 more tonight) but Crash isn’t really a natural playmaker so the high TO rate shouldn’t be unexpected.
- Wallace and Stephen Jackson combined for 51 points and are proving to be every bit as potent as the Wallace/JRich combo three seasons ago.
- The Bobcats still need some low post presence to balance out the effort from their two wings. Brook Lopez, anyone?
- Tyson Chandler had his “best” game as a Bobcats going for 13 points and 13 boards. His -14 plus minus didn’t look so hot though. Maybe the Baseline Readers can help me figure out a way to convince Tyson Chandler to opt out of his contract this offseason. Any ideas?
Until next time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…