(Courtesy – Don Ryan – AP)
· Game Breakdown
This one wasn’t even close…at all.
The Cats traveled up to Portland last night, one night removed from playing the Clippers in LA. After putting up one of the (presumed) worst second halves in franchise history, one would expect major changes and adjustments to have been made for a game against a team many consider to be one of the best in the NBA. Instead, what resulted was poor rebounding, and an even more disappointing defense. Portland took advantage of every mistake that Charlotte made, and continued to show the NBA why they are legitimate contenders in the Western conference.
To start things off, the Cats were outscored 39-21 in the opening quarter. Portland was taking note of the poor defensive rotations that Charlotte was making, and drained five 3pt shots like they were nothing. The Cats looked flustered in their zone defense, and there was simply too much that Damian Lillard can do with a basketball that the Bobcats can’t. This quarter really set the tone of the night, and a look at the FG% will tell you why: Charlotte shot 8-21 in the 1st, where Portland shot 15-22. It was raining buckets in Portland, and the Cats were definitely in the rain without an umbrella.
The second quarter was more of the same, and Portland continued to execute with precision on offense while the Cats struggled to make any serious defensive impact on the game. Wesley Matthews effectively carried Portland throughout the quarter, going 3-4 from the field, while Marvin Williams and Damian Lillard continued to connect on outside shots. For the Bobcats to have started off the season so well on defense, it was painful to see them get ripped to threads by these long-range bombs. Too many open shots were given up, and I can imagine that Steve Clifford is livid that his defensive pressure has fallen off during this 5 game losing streak.
The second half was even worse, as Charlotte only made 17 total baskets throughout the half (17-37 from the field). Many of these were more of what we’re used to from the Cats, wing-drives to the rim, and Al Jefferson post-ups. While they did hit six 3’s, they just could not keep up with Portland at all. And frankly, that’s the gist of it.
Teams like Portland are contenders for a reason; they play at their best every single night, and they are able to make the proper adjustments throughout a game to take full-advantage of the weaker team. In order for the Cats (or Hornets) to play at this level, they’re going to need more all-around talent than they’ve got. When MKG gets back from injury, the defense should pick up once again. I have full confidence that on a night like tonight, having MKG’s defensive intensity, athleticism, and rebounding, Portland wouldn’t have had such an easy time around the 3pt line. Games like these are still good for the team because we can see exactly just how far away we are from being legitimately good. Tonight, we learned that when Kemba is shooting 20% from the field, and Lamarcus Aldridge is swallowing up every rebound, we have a bad night.
With the loss, Charlotte falls to 14-20, good for 8th in the East. Let’s hope they really focus on making the proper adjustments as they get ready for Sacramento on Saturday—another team that can really rebound well.
· Stat of the Night
Portland made 21 three-pointers. 21.
That’s a franchise record for them, and it shows just how terrible the defensive rotations/close-outs were for Charlotte. Combine that with Portland out-rebounding the Cats 52-30 and you can really start to see just how easily Portland won this game tonight.
· Player of the Night
Chris Douglas-Roberts; 20pts, 4rbds, 1 block, 1steal.
That’s a decent stat line no matter how you look at it. In 20 minutes of action, CDR was incredibly reliable on offense, going 6-8 from the field. He provided energy and hustle, and he was even able to stretch the floor a little by hitting 2 threes. Let’s hope his play inspires a few of his teammates next game.
I've been wondering about our current losing streak, so I started looking back through some of our archived articles from days gone by. Did you know that historically, the Bobcats have always seemed to falter on this west coast road trip? There always seems to be some sort of struggle that hinders our ability to win games on this trip, this time of year. Perhaps it has to do with our horrible back-to-back schedule. NBA high with 21…13 of which are home-away or away-home. Last night's game was the second game of a back-to-back on the road. Tomorrow will end this road trip, and our Bobcats will head home. They'll get a whole 2 days of rest before facing the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena. Washington has Toronto tonight, Golden State on the 5th, and us on the 7th. They have a record similar to ours, and will have only 1 day of rest before facing us. If we are able to rise out of the slump and get a win against the Kings tomorrow, with 2 days of rest, we should have some good motivation to show that we are the better team. I'm still trying to find out a timetable for MKG's return to action. We are desperately missing his hustle and determination. What he brings doesn't always show up on the stat sheet, but it is seen and felt in the game. Where Kemba, Hendo, and Big Al are faltering, hopefully his return will boost their spirits and their gameplay. Honestly, MKG hasn't gotten to play with Big Al being at 100%. It should be fun to see.