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Bobcats Flirt With Competence But Can't Get Her Number

The Bobcats entered Tuesday night’s game in Memphis with 12 straight road defeats, while the Grizzlies had 12 straight home victories; nothing had to give. Through three quarters, though, the Bobcats trailed by just 5 points, and Jannero Pargo opened the fourth with a 3-pointer to make it 63-60. But then all normalcy broke loose, as the Grizzlies went on a 15-0 run. The bloodshed lasted just 3.5 minutes of game time, although coach Dunlap frantically called three full timeouts during that span, defibrillator-style. Sadly, the Bobcats couldn’t be revived.

It’s a shame, and a weird shame at that, because all but two of the points during that violent outburst came from Austin Daye, Jon Leuer, and Ed Davis. Prior to that, the Bobcats had done a decent job (at least, defensively) on the Grizzlies stars, who—except for Mike Connelly—all started the fourth quarter on the bench. Marc Gasol went just 4-11 for 8 points and 6 boards, as Bismack Biyombo did a remarkably nice job keeping the fiendish Spaniard in check. I often criticize Biyombo for providing less offense than Johnny in Johnny Got His Gun, so just for the record: good job, Biz. A remarkable job, in fact. I totally remarked on it. Meanwhile, Zach Randolph was pestered all night with double teams and could only fork over 11 points and 13 boards. A frustrated Randolph would eventually retaliate in the only sensible way possible by flipping the ball at an innocent bystander in the crowd (to his credit, Randolph went over and hugged the fan, who probably felt that a simple apology would have been sufficient). Thus when Pargo buried that 3 like drug money to start the fourth, I was psyched.

Soon I was sick. Jon Leuer’s name feels like it could use a few more consonants, but he demonstrated how well he could shoot when left wide open. Meanwhile, not only were the Bobcats missing all of their shots, the rebounds were especially unfortunate; after every Charlotte brick, it felt like the rim was making long outlet passes to the Grizzlies.  As one would expect from an 18-point fourth quarter, the Bobcats made just 5 field goals, missing an uncanny 7 shots in the paint. Josh McRoberts was the chief culprit here, as he delivered a brutal 3-for-11 performance despite playing 41 minutes. Once upon a time I was falling in love with McRoberts, now I’m only falling apart.

Actually, McBob remains our best bet at the power forward spot. His PER since joining the Bobcats has been 13.2, the highest it’s been since the 2010-11 Pacers (three teams and roughly seven hairstyles ago). It’s also nearly a full point more than Byron Mullens, his predecessor. McRoberts has no post-up game whatsoever (even less than Mullens) and he still takes far too many spot-up shots (and—more crucially—misses them), but he’s much better on the offensive boards. Defensively we’re basically comparing a turnstyle to a bowling alley, but McRoberts is slightly better than Mullens. On a pure points-allowed-per-possession basis (according to Synergy, my stats muse), Josh is ranked 325th in the league. This was a stat I found jarring until I saw that Mullens is ranked 387th—I didn’t even know there were 387 players in the league. McRoberts also works better within his 5-man unit, as the Bobcats’ net rating is -9.6 points/100 possessions with McRoberts on the court, compared to -13.2 when he’s off. For Mullens, everything moves in the totally wrong direction: -7.9 when he’s off, -16.2 when he’s on.

Sorry, I got pulled in again by Basketballrefrence.com, NBA.com and Synergy, the three deadly statistical sirens in my life. I could easily burn hours on those websites while my house burns on actual fire. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are off until Friday, when they’re somehow playing the Detroit Pistons again. Let’s hope for four full quarters of basketball this time. Or at least not getting embarrassed by the other team’s subs. Or at least not by Charlie Villanueva. Or at least not by Villanueva and four other subs while in the fourth quarter.

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