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Bobcats’ Defense Functioning Like a Well-Oiled Oilfield Fire

"We got a lot of guys with pride and a lot of heart,” said Gerald Henderson after the Bobcats’ failed semi-comeback against the Knicks on Friday night, “We just couldn't come up with it at the end of the game." An answer for J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony is the “it” with which the Bobcats couldn’t come up. In fact, in the first half, the only thing more unstoppable than Smith was his tattoo artist, as the former Zhejiang Golden Bull went 9-for-11 and attacked the hoop as if it were a New Jersey traffic court judge. Between him and the diabolical Anthony, the Bobcats found themselves trailing by 30 points in the first half, and although they were able to cut the deficit to 7 with about 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, they couldn’t close the deal. "You like to win big when you are up big, but to me a win is a win," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson, whose opinion of wins is in line with the generally-held perception of them.

The following night’s results in Philadelphia—a 9-point loss—were the same but acquired differently. This time the Bobcats squandered an early lead but played neck-and-neck throughout until they let a guard take control late. Jrue Holiday, who was in the midst of a 2-for-13 shooting debacle (which doesn’t include his four missed free throws), came alive with 11 points in the 4th quarter to save Allen Iverson Bobblehead Night for the Sixers. Holiday’s versatility was impressive; he hit 3 jumpers and blew past the Bobcats’ guards twice for layups. Thaddeus Young and Royal Ivey combined for 5 steals as well, and the Sixers’ overall 52% shooting was enough to force the war-torn Bobcats to surrender.

Speaking of opponents shooting 52%, that’s exactly the eFG% the Bobcats are allowing for the season. They aren’t so much allowing open shots as welcoming them with open arms, and opponents know it and hug them right back again and again, occasionally squeezing them inappropriately on the buttocks. Synergysports.com tells us that opponents spot up on the Bobcats 22% of the time (the majority of which are 3-pointers) and average 1.04 points-per-attempt, which has the Bobcats ranked 29th in the league in that department. (Synergysports.com also tells us that she is all-powerful, and that we must worship no other god but her, and that we will turn our lives over to her alluring stats and easy-to-use interface). I would advise the Bobcats to try to force teams to run some other plays, except the only thing the Bobcats defend against at a better-than-average rate are cuts. Everything else--pick-and-rolls, post-ups, isolations--is just a bonfire of burnt Bobcats.

Knicks TV commentator Walt Frazier, wearing a leather suit that I can only describe as “cow camouflage” and that might sentence him to eternity in Hindu hell, pointed out repeatedly that it was poor effort by the Bobcats that led to so many New York buckets. That’s certainly the case in some aspects, such as defensive rebounds. The Bobcats only grab 70.7% of their defensive rebound opportunities (29th in the league). Byron Mullens leads the team in DRR with 22%, and need I say more? I needn’t but I will: he’s ranked 18th among PFs in that category. It might not be just an effort-thing, though, because Bismack Biyombo, who is often praised only for his effort, pulls down just 20.3% of available defensive rebounds, which is 29th among centers.  It’s a similar story with the guyards and swingmen. And they’re terrible at this even though coach Dunlap’s defensive scheme has them packing the paint. If you’re going to give up all of those spot-up shots, there should at least be a few guys down low to pick up the misses, one would think. One would be wrong, though; the Bobcats are giving up a ton of spot-ups and also not rebounding them. They’re not having their cake, nor are they eating it.

So the fires of defensive futility will continue raging until they burn themselves out in mid-April. Bobcats fans, their morale fried to a crisp, can only hope to be hosed down by a mobile defensive big in the (back)draft, while idiotic bloggers ignite stupid metaphors like these amidst the ashes of another inferno of a season.

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