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Blogcat's Take, 4/12

After surviving a series of increasingly bizarre cliffhangers, the Bobcats finally dropped the girl from the zip line last night against the Boston Celtics. The Bobcats’ defense, which has been more ruthless than the Putin regime all season, gave up 1.082 points per possession last night against the C’s, according to TeamRankings.com. Let’s hope this was all just a terrible anomaly, like the music career of David Hasselhoff.

It had to be, because the Celtics normally shoot 3-pointers with 33.2% accuracy, and last night they shot 47.8% from distance, scoring more times downtown than a pack of sailors on leave. They did it in a variety of ways, too, springing themselves like slinkys on high pick-and-rolls and carelessly flinging pull-ups like t-shirt giveaways, but with lethal accuracy. Twice coach Steve Clifford turned a Tom Coughlin shade of red and called timeouts only because he didn’t have a gun handy. “We just didn’t put much into the game,” Clifford said afterward of the Bobcats’ half-assery. In fact, I doubt Clifford would have even rated the effort that highly; he probably would have given it no better than an eighth of an ass.

That might be true, although I have to say that it didn’t look to me like a lack of hustle or effort—at least, not totally. I’m always quick to get annoyed when someone like Bill Simmons takes an extremely solipsistic view of the reasons for his teams’ losses. If you listen to or read Simmons, you know that whenever the Patriots (for example) lose, he generally rank-orders the reasons for the loss as follows: 1) the Patriots played badly, 2) the Patriots were unlucky, 3) the Patriots were injured, and 4) the referees made terrible calls. And then last and very much least: 5) the other team played well (or more often, the other team got lucky in one particular area). So I’m trying to consciously buck that trend here and say that the Celtics—coincidentally Bill’s team—just played really well. Brandon Bass knocked down 4 mid-range jumpers, and on two of them the Bobcats were a little slow to rotate, but on the other two Al Jefferson was draped on him like a zombie on an open wound; what are you going to do, those were just good shots. Similarly, Avery Bradley went 4-for-6 on 3-pointers, two of which were transitional and in less rhythm than Robin Thicke. Another resulted from a splendid behind-the-back pass from Phil Pressey, and the last was with Gerald Henderson charging him like a credit card. Meanwhile, Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green were borderline unguardable and marauded the Bobcats from all over the floor, all night. These are NBA players and they’re all capable of going off, and tonight several did it simultaneously.

For sure, some portion last night’s atrocity can also be explained by Kemba Walker’s absence—perhaps a large portion. Walker was out with an injured right groin (for some reason, team doctors felt a need to specify which side of the groin), and although he’s no Gary Payton, he’s done an extremely competent job on defense this year. ESPN unleashed their new “Real Plus Minus” stat with subtlety of a Doberman this week, and Walker’s currently sitting 15th among PGs in defensive RPM (0.62), while 82games.com has him holding opposing PGs to a 16.9 PER. Again, these aren’t eye-poppingly fantastic, but when you take him, injure his groin (either side), and replace him with Luke Ridnour, it’s like replacing a Honda Accord with a fat kid on a tricycle. Ridnour’s sporting a -2.61 defensive RPM (71st among PGs) and “holding” opposing PGs to a 20.6 PER. Essentially, he transforms every guard he faces into Kyrie Irving. And I don’t mean to just pick on Ridnour (although it’s certainly a side benefit), because as a team, the Bobcats actually have the second-best defensive rating with Walker on the court (behind MKG), 99.3 PP100Ps, which plummets like Bran Stark when Walker’s not there to 105.3.

Wow, I didn’t know the difference between Kemba and no Kemba was that, um, “stark.” Maybe it really was injuries that cost us last night. I should have done the research before I wrote that condescending third paragraph about Simmons. This is what happens when you’re so pissed off that your team just dropped a critical game to a bunch of shithouse tankers that you can’t sleep and can’t think of anything positive to write about, so instead of looking for something worthy for inspiration you look for un-prescribed Vyvanse. You know what, the Bobcats played like crap and were injured and the Celtics got lucky. Plus the refs screwed us at the end of the third quarter with that b.s. technical foul on Anthony Tolliver—Anthony Tolliver?! Are you kidding me?! This is a man who when he’s not tweeting about Jesus is building shelters for crippled orphans. He got a tech? Ridiculous. That one point ended up totally costing us the game.

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    I was shocked by how dysfunctional our backcourt looked Friday night without Kemba.  After seeing that performance I think we as Bobcats fans should all be heartily praying for the health of Kemba's groin... Is that allowed??

    I hereby authorize it. After this near-disaster against the Sixers, I'm about to start a "Save Kemba's Groin" fund-raiser. Or a kickstarter fund. "Groin Kickstarter."

    Until he returns to the lineup, we should all use the following hashtag on twitter