|Josh McRoberts, PF 29 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +4
About the best O-fer you’ll see in the NBA. Michael Jordan called McRoberts the team’s “connector,” and you could see why tonight. Eight assists aren’t common for a big man, but Charlotte really needs that kind of effort. Without shooters to space the floor, the team has to work for as many clean looks as it can get. Having a facilitator like Josh makes a big difference.
|Bismack Biyombo, PF 37 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5
It’s still early, but Biyombo has looked like the Bobcats’ most-improved player so far. Granted, he had the most to improve, but it’s still encouraging to see him play to his strengths and find ways to contribute on offense. The majority of his points came off easy dunks, but he also flashed a smooth baseline jumper and a few herky-jerky post moves. Especially encouraging: just one turnover. If he keeps playing like this, he deserves to cut into Jefferson’s minutes.
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -1
Until he can rebuild his jumper, this is exactly what you want from MKG. He was very active on defense, pushed the tempo whenever possible, and looked terrific close to the basket and in transition. His six rebounds also helped cover for the power forwards, who struggled in that area. Kidd-Gilchrist’s overall efficiency will be always be low unless he learns to shoot or draw fouls consistently, but that’s hard to be too upset about when he contributes in other ways.
|Kemba Walker, PG 38 MIN | 8-14 FG | 4-8 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 23 PTS | +16
The turnovers weren’t great, but everything else was. Kemba continues to look like a different player at home, probing the Cavs defense with his drives and making some beautiful shots around the rim. It was a complete game, too, as he helped hold Kyrie Irving to a pedestrian night, passed and rebounded well, and hit all three of the team’s 3-pointers. The last three was the biggest, as Walker drilled the clutch shot that put the Bobcats up for good. It was the kind of game that gives you hope for both Walker and the team.
|Gerald Henderson, SG 28 MIN | 2-10 FG | 6-8 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +5
A pretty bad night for Gerald. His mid-range shot wasn’t falling, but not for lack of trying. Playing Henderson down the stretch could have been a mistake, but all’s well that ends well. His final two free throws iced the win.
|Cody Zeller, PF 19 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +2
A much better game from Zeller tonight, but he’s obviously still feeling things out. His mid-range shot was falling, which helped, and even the ones he missed generally looked on target. You’d ideally like to see him mix it up inside more often, but if you’re open, you’re open. It’s hard to justify giving him more minutes until his defense improves, but the effort is there.
|Jeff Adrien, SF 11 MIN | 1-1 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +1
We’re all happy the team kept Adrien around, right? He’s a solid deep reserve, bringing high effort, reliable play and cool hair.
|Ramon Sessions, PG 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +4
Sessions had a very Sessions game, with a handful of assists and some steady ballhandling that kept the second unit afloat while Walker sat. He has less value when he’s not earning trips to the line, but the offense probably flows better when he’s not dominating the ball.
|Jeffery Taylor, SG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -6
There’s a big push from some fans (and some beat writers) to play Jeff Taylor over Kidd-Gilchrist, but Taylor’s superior skillset hasn’t translated into regular-season performance yet. He looks less tentative to take shots this year, but they just weren’t falling, especially from long range. His defense means he’s a plus on the floor, but MKG still seems to have the advantage in most regards other than shooting.
The team looks happy, committed and much less chaotic than last year. On offense, ball movement is improved, and it’s resulting in better looks. The defense is running hot and cold, but the highs seem higher. Some of that has to be from natural growth and development, but Clifford still gets to share credit.
Four Things We Saw
- I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Charlotte looked good against a poor three-shooting team. Three-point defense was one of the team’s glaring weaknesses last year, and it looked problematic in the pre-season as well.
- Related: This team desperately needs shooting. 3-of-12 from three won’t cut it against many teams, and things get stagnant when they’re forced to drive over and over.
- Another DNP-CD for Ben Gordon tonight. The team clearly misses Gordon’s shooting, but it’s hard to argue with the results, especially on defense.
- Easy mistakes almost ruined this one. After turning it over only twice (!) in the first half, the Bobcats got very sloppy with the ball, giving it up 13 times in the second. Likewise, if they hit a league-average amount of their free throws tonight (21-of-34), they cruise to a much easier win.