Kemba Walker was a dismal 2-14 from the field on the night, but with less than 10 seconds to play he had an ISO set, exploded to the basket and hit a clutch floater to put the Bobcats ahead for good, propelling Charlotte to a 68-64 win and a 2-0 record in the Vegas summer league. Walker led the team in scoring with 13 points on the game and was 9-11 from the charity stripe.
Charlotte certainly didn’t put on an offensive clinic as they did in their debut against Sacramento on Friday night. Tonight was about scrapping to get a victory in any way possible and for the Bobcats that ended up coming on the defensive end of the floor. Charlotte caused 24 Cleveland turnovers while only committing 12 themselves. As on Friday night, the Bobcats applied the suffocating 2-2-1 full court press. Cleveland handled it well in the first half, breaking it down and getting into their half court sets. Slowing the game down against the Dunlap chaotic style defense came easy in the first half for the Cavs, but the second half was a different story. Cleveland likely ran out of gas, not able to continuously handle the Bobcats pressure. Charlotte, on the other hand, is proving that they’re already a very well conditioned squad that can constantly force the tempo.
The Bobcats were embarrassing on the offensive end for most of the night. They finished the night at 30.7% from the field and shot 2-21 (9.5%) from behind the arc. Nonetheless, Charlotte figured out a way to persevere for the win, which makes the victory that much more impressive.
Jeffery Taylor added 12 points and 7 rebounds and Carlon Brown (Colorado) finished with 11 points for the Bobcats. Biz and Mullens both pulled down 8 rebounds to lead the team. Mullens continued to not be shy shooting the basketball, even when it was clearly evident it wasn’t his night- he was 4-17 from the field and 0-7 from behind the arc.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sat out tonight’s games due to a sore knee that he injured on Friday night against the Kings. The injury does not seem to be serious and keeping him out tonight was simply a precaution.
Charlotte will face Minnesota on Tuesday night at 10:30 ET.
Jeffery Taylor: B-
Taylor is an absolute fabulous defender and understands basic defensive concepts, which always has him in the right position. He’s athletic and extremely active on both ends of the floor. Tonight, Taylor was making a constant effort to get to the rim off the dribble. 10 of Taylor’s 15 FGA tonight came from within the arc and for a guy who is regarded as a deadly outside shooter that’s a great sign of him understanding what part of his game must improve for this level.
Bismack Biyombo: C+
Biz probably deserves a better grade than this, but eh, it was an average performance. Don’t get me wrong, Biz is definitely making strides on the offensive end and looks much more comfortable when he gets the ball on the block. What Biyombo must work on the most, as NBA TV’s Sam Micthell pointed out tonight, is working on his release point with his shot. Biz releases the ball on the way down and must work on getting the ball out of his hands at his highest point. The footwork looks awesome from Biyombo, though, and I believe he’s in for a much more productive season playing next to Brendan Haywood.
Byron Mullens: C-
The shot selection is just abysmal. Seven 3PA? Why? After you missed the first 4 why are you still firing away? There are tons of questions that jog my mind when I watch him play. Bottom line is this- if Mullens is going to continue to take 15+ shots/night that far away from the basket then he’s got to be used as a stretch PF, coming off the bench for Charlotte. Looks stronger on the glass and also more aggressive around the rim in general. Problem is, it’s so hard to get him to be in the paint, consistently. So much potential at his size, but is extremely frustrating to watch and has a long way to go.
Kemba Walker: C+
Overall, it was not a good performance for Kemba tonight. What’s impressive about it, though, is the fact that he stuck with it, kept grinding and found a way to win the game for his team scoring Charlotte’s last 5 points. Kemba had just 4 assist, but some of that can be attributed to the fact that the team shot 30.7% from the field. Only one turnover is very encouraging though. Is he a PG? I still just can’t get on-board with that yet, but you can see all the room for growth/improvement and it’s just hard to convince myself that he won’t get there.
(Wild Card) Josh Owens: B+
Owens only played 13:31 minutes tonight, but this kid can play. If, for instance, the Bobcats chose to not bring back D.J. White and miss out on Jamison, then I think there’s an outside shot that Owens lands a roster spot with Charlotte. Owens scored 6 points on 3-3 from the field. He’s an above average athlete that’s extremely active on both ends, runs the floor well and is a good defender on the block. A bit undersized for a PF at 6-8 and it’s not clear of whether or not he can knock down the mid-range jumper, but he’d be a great young, cheap and energetic rotation player for the Bobcats. Don’t think he’ll end up with a roster spot, but I think he’s a player to watch for the rest of summer league.