Score: 99-89 Charlotte
Bobcats record: 6-10
Offensive Efficiency: 104.2
Defensive Efficiency: 94.7
Meritorious Player: Gerald Wallace – 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
94.7 points per 100 possessions – that represents the Bobcats 2nd best defensive outing of the season, and a one-night reminder of the defensive force the team was last year. Looking down the Rockets lineup, the only name that jumps out (with Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks out) as an offensive threat is Kevin Martin, yet they still manage to rank in the middle of the NBA in efficiency. Well, the Bobcats had the same thought I did: Contain Kevin Martin and see what happens – and it worked out for them. For the year, Martin is scoring 1.6 points per field goal attempt, but against the Cats Friday night needed 17 attempts to get 16 points. Nice work, Stephen Jackson and mates – limiting dangerous offensive threats is one of the things Jax is getting paid to do – and something he can contribute every night, unlike his somewhat sporadic offensive output (sporadic more in efficiency than in actual output).
Gerald Wallace got the nod for MP, but a strong case could have been made for Boris Diaw as well, though part of what makes Boris’ line stand out is uniqueness is that it is primarily unique to him: Double digit rebounds. A constant criticism of Boris as a big man is that he does not rebound well for his position – but for a night anyway Diaw played big, finishing the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds while scoring several baskets in the post. Boris put his best asset to use last night – a rear end the Queen has noted a tea cup could rest on – and created space to operate and dominate in the post, though I diminish the meaning of the word when referencing what is a relatively pedestrian boxscore line for some of the leagues other notable bigs.
On to Saturday and the disappointment that it entailed:
Score: 104-101 Milwaukee
Bobcats record: 6-11
Offensive Efficiency: 112.2
Defensive Efficiency: 113.0
Meritorious Player: Gerald Wallace – 19 points on 12 attempts, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and Crash held John Salmons to 4 points on 0-6 from the field and 4-6 from the stripe in about 19 minutes where he had the defensive assignment. Yes, that leaves the rest of the team holding the bag on 12 points in about 18 minutes on 6 of 9 shooting.
With Stephen Jackson getting a quick toss, the Bobcats were short-handed from not long after tip-off. The Bucks aren’t impressed – they were missing two starters and and a third rotation player in Andrew Bogut, Drew Gooden, and Corey Maggette. Take away Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and Tyrus Thomas from the Bobcats for a night, and I would think a 40-point loss may be in the offing. The most obvious consequence of the missing Bucks? Defense: Coming into the contest the Bucks were first in the league in defensive efficiency, but with Bogut, their defensive cornerstone out, the relatively benign Bobcats offense gained some teeth, with the Cats posting their third highest offensive efficiency of the season.
Unfortunately for Charlotte, they surrendered a season-high tying defensive efficiency, continuing their season-long trend of lapsing defensive prowess. Did Stephen Jackson’s absence contribute? Perhaps – maybe the Bobcats can hide D.J. defensively a bit more if Jax is available to switch onto Brandon Jennings, like the Cats did against Utah. Or Shaun Livingston gets more minutes to try and take on John Salmons, while D.J. languishes on the bench and Jax handles Jennings and Shaun and Stephen split point duties. The point being: The Bobcats have more options if Stephen Jackson is still on the court. The Cats are already missing a lottery pick in the backcourt with Gerald Henderson out – Jax picking up two more technicals to continue his march to a league-mandated suspension was not beneficial.
- Strong offensive showing for D.J. Augustin – 26 points on 15 attempts on a night he made 0 threes is quite impressive, as D.J. made up for the lack of success from deep (0-4) by getting to the line, where he went 8-8. The bad news: As mentioned previously, Brandon Jennings had 32, of which 29 came while D.J. was on the court, making Augustin largely culpable for the scoring outburst.
- Shaun Livingston had an even more efficient scoring night than D.J., missing a single shot on his way to 16 points – 5 of 6 from the floor, 5 of 5 on freebies. The area of concern: 2 assists in 28 minutes for the backup point guard. Yes, he was playing alongside of D.J. more last night, but that number is consistent with his output so far this season: 3.9 assists per 40 minutes of play. For the season, Shaun is at 2.3 assists per 40 minutes when at the 2, and only gets up to 4.8 dimes per 40 when manning the point. Even in a slow offense like Charlotte’s, that’s not a lot of distribution. Just an area to keep an eye on.
- After scoring 26 points in 35 minutes against the Knicks, Tyrus Thomas has logged a total of just 34 minutes in the last 2 games, scoring a combined 12 points in those outings.