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Unlike “Diff’rent Strokes,” Bobcats Have No Answer For Webster

Only the Bobcats could make Martell Webster look like an unstoppable offensive force. The career journeyman connected on 4-of-8 3-pointers for 20 points, enabling the Wizards to humiliate the Bobcats, 104-87. The loss extended the Bobcats’ North American Humiliation Tour to 10-straght games on Saturday, thanks to Webster, as well as Trevor Ariza, who jumped off the bench like it was covered with pigeon turds and scored 26 points. Webster and Ariza had plenty of open looks, because the Bobcats were busy trying—and failing—to stop Washington center Nenê, who burned them down low like a Brazilian wax. Nenê’s stats—19/8/4 with 2 blocks—weren’t staggering, but his frequent body checks into Kemba Walker sure were, and the Brazilian’s overall dominance stripped the Bobcats of any hair of a chance in this one (he finished with a game high +26).

This wipeout followed the previous night's shenanigans in Charlotte, where the Bobcats bowed down to the awesome glory of Hashim Thabeet and his backups, the Oklahoma City Thunder. As expected, Thabeet led his still-developing supporting cast with 4-of-6 shooting, at times showing his impatience with their overall lack of skills and maturity. The good news for the Bobcats was that they improved upon their previous results with the Thunder by 51%; the bad news was that this meant they still lost by 22 points.

If these last two games had anything in common—well, other than the Bobcats stinking up the joint worse than Chris Christie after five bean burritos—it was a desert-like stretch of offense from Charlotte in the second quarter. Against OKC, the Thunder opened up the second quarter on a 19-0 run. "At one point in the second quarter,” said Gerald Henderson afterward, “we were down 18 and we didn't know how we got there.” This was an odd thing for Hendo to say, since the Bobcats’ scoring drought lasted nearly 6 minutes and featured 6 straight missed shots, the first four of which Henderson watched from the bench and the last two he took himself. The following night in Washington, the second quarter gridlock was even more insufferable: the Wizards went on a 23-6 run midway through the second quarter to go up by 21. The Bobcats were able to chip away at the lead for the next 15 minutes or so and make things interesting—or, at least, less inevitable—but the closest they could get was 9.

The Bobcats’ second quarter problems probably stem from the loss of Ramon Sessions, Charlotte's main contributor on the second team. Sessions is out 2-4 weeks with a sprained MCL, meaning the Bobcats are without the player with the second-highest usage rate on the team and the highest offensive rating. The result is bad losses to good teams and even worse losses to bad teams. On the other hand, I just checked the offensive efficiency ratings and saw that for the last 3 games, the Bobcats have had the 4th-most efficient team in the league. So the problem has been defensive efficiency (where, sure enough, the Bobcats have been the 29th-most efficient team in the league over the last 3). Defensive efficiency has nothing to do with Sessions, who couldn’t defend a game of Space Invaders in beginner-mode.

So I throw up my hands in confused anger, much like coach Dunlap did last night, as he watched the Wizards score 104 points, even though Washington passed the ball like gun control legislation (23 assists against 16 turnovers for the 25th-ranked A/TO team in the league). "It's like herding cats sometimes," the coach said afterward. He gets a few days to stew, plot, and presumably recognize his own puns before revenge-minded Boston comes into town on Tuesday.

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