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Blogcat's Take, 11/10

The Bobcats were in an excellent position to go 4-2 this week by playing a rematch with the Knicks, whom they just beat. Amazingly, this would have kept both the Bobcats and the Panthers over .500 for the first time since...2005! (note to self: go back and research that stat. Could that be right? Was the last time I felt good about both hometown teams really the same time I also felt mildly let down by the remake of King Kong?) Instead, the whole thing unraveled faster than a Homeland plot. The Knicks went down to Charlotte and squashed the Cats like a casserole on 12-for-26 3-point shooting, many emanating from Andrea Bargnani, whom the Bobcats left more wide open than his perpetually agape mouth.

One thing about Bargnani: in case you’ve ever wondered why you secretly hate him, it’s not just because of that dopey-looking open mouth, it’s because he is a stone-cold Bobcats skinner. Take a look at the stats: 36.3 points per 48 minutes against the Bobcats last year, 31.6 in 2011, 25.1 in 2010, 26.4 in 2009, etc., etc. The man stands just stands there, plays no defense, and crushes the Bobcats; he’s an Italian loafer...of death! Except in the Wednesday rematch, he wasn’t. He actually put the ball on the floor and completely confused everyone, perhaps even his own teammates. Whereas his shot chart normally looks like a bunch of X’s and O’s at the top of the 3-point line like a sutured wound, this time he hit six from circa-18-feet and two in the paint. Just this little bit of diversity from Bargnani kept the Bobcats two steps behind on defense all night; they either sacrificed open shooters on the 3-point line or they allowed Carmelo Anthony to destroy them in single coverage. The Bobcats are still the 13th most efficient defensive team at 100.5 points per 100 possessions, but on Wednesday they gave up 106.6.

Still, 3-3 for this team is nothing to thumb your nose at...especially when it’s the bloodied, mangled nose of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who’s rapidly turning into the team’s Indiana Jones. MKG whacked his honker on the tattooed hulk of Kenyon Martin in the first matchup with the Knicks and didn’t skip a beat (well, he did come out momentarily to sop up his dripping fluids, but he was right back in on the next dead ball). His individual defense against Melo probably saved the game for Charlotte, and I was happy to see his efforts praised the next day in Harwood Paroxysm. Someday I hope to not have to go on the internet equivalent of an archaeological dig to find positive reviews of MKG. I admit, his jump shot is uglier than John McEnroe in 1982, but he’s somehow hustled his way up to a 17.7 PER, due to his finishing skills at the rim and the fact that over half the time he puts it up he’s getting fouled. He’s still turning the ball over too much (1.9/36 mins) and fouling too much (4.1/36 mins), but the hustle is there, and one shan’t knock it.

Meanwhile, Ramon Sessions is drawing fouls like they’re peace signs on a 10-year-old’s trapper keeper. He’s up to an astonishing 13.5 fouls drawn per 36 minutes, with handouts coming on 95.9% of his shots. This is Dwight Howard territory. Collectively he, MKG, and Gerald Henderson are keeping the Bobcats in games by going to the line (they’re currently 3rd in the league at FTA/FGA)...which is necessary, because the Bobcats continue to shoot diarrhea sprays on offense. According to TeamRankings.com, the number one team in offensive efficiency is the Miami Heat. Comparing the two team’s shot charts is like comparing Usain Bolt’s X-rays to Keith Richards’. The Heat shoot 10.99% better than the Bobcats at the rim and 19.4% better from the corner-3. And they take way, WAY more corner-3’s. Miami is already up to 55 corner-3 shots this year, while the Bobcats have just 21. Big Al Jefferson will allegedly help with the spacing issue, but until the day he can call himself an ankle-sprain survivor, I fear the Bobcats are going to keep launching shots about as well as the government launches websites.

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