For the detailed boxscore, go here: Queen City Hoops Stats Page
Score: 96-79 Cavs
Bobcats Record: 0-1
Meritorious Player: Jason Richardson – 24 points (18 attempts), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
The Bobcats started the season with a bang: The loud bang of a balloon popping, waking up all the people dreaming about them being ready to compete; I would be included in that category. And I feel a little silly and kind of disappointed right now. Previewing the game and remembering how tough the Bobcats played Cleveland last year caused me to brush over the fact that this team showed no offensive cohesiveness in the preseason and was without a power forward who could contribute meaningfully. Lesson learned (for now – I am still a fan and with it comes a short memory, hopefully).
So, about the offense: It looked just as good tonight as it did in the preseason, with the Bobcats scoring 91.9 points per 100 possessions. Of the two major causes in the preseason, poor shooting and turnovers, one was improved. The Bobcats only turned the ball over 12 times tonight, with Augustin the worst offender with 4. The shooting…had not changed. The Cats made good on 33.8% of their attempts and were even worse from behind the stripe at 3 for 12, 25%. The issue? Still a lot of jumpers – Emeka and Nazr combined for 9 fga. While Sean May had 6 as well, about half were from the perimeter after he was viciously stuffed by Ben Wallace a couple of times. The play by play has the Bobcats with 12 makes on jumpers – and 28 misses: 30%.
Regarding misses (the missed shot kind, not the female kind – speaking of, prophetic words from the Queen of Queen City Hoops: “Watching the game tonight will be haunting enough”, in response to asking if she was interested in finding a haunted house to visit tonight. Said in jest, but sadly true): Raymond Felton was back to his shot happy way: 1 of 10 from the floor for 5 points. It was not entirely his fault though, as we saw a lot of something tonight I had hoped not to see: Felton and Augustin playing together. That is right, Larry Brown took one night to put the two points together, and force one of them into shooting guard. 10 minutes and 41 seconds with the two supposed 6 footers playing together – the Bobcats lost that time by 16, while giving up 186.7 points per 100 possessions and scoring at a rate of only 75. I assume it is supposed to be the high-octane offensive attack, but I will save Larry Brown the time: It will not work if Raymond Felton is playing shooting guard. Trust me, I have seen it tried before.
Enough about the offense, what about the defense? It was not good either. 110.3 points per 100 possessions, even worse than the Bobcats were last year. And the main culprit was not who you would have expected: It was not King James who torched the Bobcats, but Daniel Gibson. The former Longhorn put up 25 points on 14 attempts from the floor, knocking down jumper after jumper. The Bobcats really struggled with Gibson coming off the screen on the perimeter, as the Cavs consistently went to the play, and the Bobcats consistently failed to defend it adequately. There should be plenty of teaching points for Larry Brown in the film session tomorrow, and defending shooters coming off screens needs to be near the top.
The other defensive inadequacy that was exposed: No surprise, the Bobcats still cannot rebound the basketball. The Cavaliers grabbed 13 offensive rebounds – the Bobcats grabbed 20 defensive rebounds. That is not a good percentage, it is not even a bad percentage, it is (Bill Walton voice) an atrocious percentage. When Sean May and Nazr Mohammed play a combined 28 minutes and grab a total of 2 defensive rebounds, it is a good bet the Bobcats will struggle. I have to ask: Why did Andre Brown where a suit and not a uniform tonight?
To finish on a good note: Gerald Wallace had an ok game with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. While he was on the court, the defensive was actually quite solid, allowing only 96.5 pp100p. Emeka grabbed 12 rebounds. And Adam Morrison showed signs: He started quickly making 3 of his first 4 shots, but wound up going 4 of 9 for 9 points, with 1 board and 1 assist in 23+ minutes. Despite the low rebound total, he was making an effort both on the glass and defensively, using his length to try and disrupt Cleveland's jumpshooters. It was nothing spectacular, but it was a decent start back.
That concludes this recap of a forgettable season opener for the Bobcats. The home opener against the Heat is less than 48 hours away, and the Bobcats have a lot to improve on in that short time. Let's hope signs of encouragement wait us.