11 layups and 4 dunks – that goes a long ways towards a team shooting 59.7% from the field, as the Hawks did against the Bobcats yesterday. Recording 15 (or 13, according to ESPN) offensive rebounds to your oppenents 17 defensive rebounds would also contribute mightily – again, this is what the Hawks did yesterday, picking the Bobcats' carcass for any little scrap of meat it could find. Having managed to gross myself out, I will end this part of the recap by saying the Bobcats had their worst defensive effort of the season (yes, even worse than the Phoenix game), giving up 1.25 ppp. Moving on.
The Bobcats managed to also have their best offensive day of the year, though it fail a bit short of the lofty standard the Hawks set. Charlotte managed to pump in 1.15 ppp yesterday, their new season best by 0.04 (achieved in the opener). The main culprits? Well, Jason Richardson for one – he carried over his solid performance from the Miami game, and dropped 27 points on 19 shots, and added twice as many assists as turnovers (4 to 2). Put it all together, and he helped the Bobcats to 1.21 points per possession while he was on the court. The player who had the best offensive numbers for the night, though? Not Jason. Or Gerald, or even Felton (too many turnovers, with 5). It was Jeff McInnis – leading the team at 1.22 ppp for the game. Solid shooting (4 of 7) and a 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio (6 assists on the game, do the math) did the trick. I am not quite ready to rescind my comments about the Bobcats decision to bring him back…but he is making me at least consider it.
The Queen City Hoops Greatest Lineup Ever goes to Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Jeff McInnis, and Matt Carroll. This fearsome fivesome actually did a solid job on defense, at 0.92 ppp, and a spectacular job on offense, scoring at a rate of 1.45. How did they do it? By getting absolutely destroyed on the glass – yes, I realize that would seem to be a negative thing, and it is, but part of the reason they lost the battle of the boards was they outshot the Hawks, 58% to 38%. The Hawks managed to grab 6 offensive rebounds to only 2 defensive boards by this group of Bobcats, but it was not enough to matter. I would not advise them to try this approach to often, however; I doubt it would be a consistently successful approach.
Despite the loss, there were some positive signs to take away from the game – namely, Jason Richardson and the offense getting on track. It also, once more, underscored Emeka's importance to the team – limited by foul trouble, he managed only 8 boards and 2 blocks (and was party to a lot of those dunks and layups by the Hawks). The Bobcats continue to struggle when Emeka is not a monster on defense, and they will continue to struggle in those situations, because of their depth in the frontcourt. But there is hope – Ryan Hollins is already becoming a valuable defensive player for the team – for the season, the defense is at 1.03ppp with him on the floor, 1.04ppp without him. It is not much, but it is a drastic change from last year, when the opposition put up video game scores against him (1.21 ppp against last year with Ryan on the floor).
More good news for the Cats? The Sonics are coming to town Saturday, bringing their own version of Adam Morrison with them, in Kevin Durant. Cheap shot, I know – but Durant is only shooting 38% from the floor so far, so he is taking plenty of shots to get his 20 points a game. If the Bobcats can keep him from raising that mark, you have to like their odds to move back over .500 this weekend.
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