Well, the Bobcats lost…but it is the pre-season, so that is not terribly important. Even the fact that they lost by 24 points (123-99) matters little. Having said that, there are some things to be learned from the game.
1. The starting 5 played very well together. Ryan Hollins, Emeka, Crash, Jason Richardson, and Raymond Felton were on the court together for 15:08 of action, the most of any quintet the Bobcats sent out. During that time, they outscored the Magic by 10 points by playing stifling defense and scorching offense – they allowed only 0.85 points per possession, but scored at 1.27, a very strong differential. They did this by shooting the ball very efficiently – 12 of 22 from the floor (54.5%), protecting the ball (3 turnovers versus 5 turnovers forced), strong defense (Magic shot just 10 of 24 against them, for 41.7%), and a large edge at the free throw line (8 attempts to 0). The negative for the group? I cannot really come up with anything as they even managed to hold their own on the boards (3 offensive rebounds, 10 defensive and allowing 4 offensive boards for the Magic, with 8 defensive rebounds).
2. Jeff McInnis did not play well in place of Raymond Felton. In 3 minutes and 11 seconds of action with the starting five minus Raymond, McInnis led the Bobcats to a 11 point deficit. The offense struggled mightily, scoring 2 points on 7 possessions, and the defense was as atrocious, giving up 13 in the same 7 possessions. This is not to say that it is entirely Jeff's fault, but it is worth noting the difference in performance for the same group with the 2 point guards.
3. Walter has had better nights. Walter had a very forgettable night – 0 for 4 from the field, 1 of 2 at the line, 2 fouls, 1 point. And that is it in his boxscore line. But it actually gets worse – during Walter's brief stay on the court, all 508 seconds of it (8 minutes, 28 seconds), the Bobcats were outscored by 17 points. The Magic scored nearly 2 points per possession, with 35 points on only 18 possessions. To be fair, here are the 2 lineups that he spent the bulk of his time with:
Adam Morrison, Gabe Muoneke, Jeff McInnis, and Jermareo Davidson – for 4 minutes and 13 seconds. 0 projected starters, 1 guy who is not going to be on the opening day roster (Gabe) and another who is likely to spend a lot of time this year on a bus in the D-League (Jermareo).
Adam Morrison, Jeff McInnis, Jermareo Davidson, and Matt Carroll – for 3 minutes and 12 seconds. This lineup managed to force one missed shot on 7 attempts – and the Magic managed to grab that solitary miss and score. Again, a lineup I hope to never see during the regular season (unless the Bobcats are up 30).
4. Crash and Emeka – One Dynamic Duo of Defense. When Gerald and Emeka were on the floor together, the Bobcats only allowed a point per possession (50 points, 50 poss), but without them, 1.52 points/poss (73 on 48). The main difference? Opponent shooting percentage – 53.9% with them and 74.4% without them. The first number is far from good, but when only allowing 2 free throw attempts over 25:18, it can be forgiven – especially when 11 turnovers are forced during that same time. During the 22:42 seconds when they were not both on the floor, there were 15 free throw attempts by the Magic, and only 6 turnovers.
5. There were signs of offense – expected, and only hoped for. Jason Richardson did what he was brought in to do: Score, as he delivered 17 points on 10 shots. Adam Morrison also showed an efficient scoring touch (for him), with 13 points on 11 shots (6 of 11 from the floor, but no fta).
So, despite the ugly loss, there were enough positive developments for me to be pleased with the results. Going forward, however, I would like it if the team managed to hold the opposition to less than 60% from the field – even in the pre-season.
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