Lacing them Up
After a brutal performance against Indiana on Friday night the Raps headed to Charlotte in hopes of rebounding. Both Franchise and I had a good opportunity to express our displeasure in the last re-cap and we were both anxious to see how the team would respond. Despite Bosh wearing street clothes this looked like a winnable game. If there is any team out there that has suffered its share of injuries this year it has been the Bobcats. Morrison and May are both out for the year and Gerald Wallace is also on the shelf. In the case of Morrison or May neither are stars, but they are both strong pieces of the foundation for this franchise. Young, talented and good contributors.
Well, the result was far from what we expected or desired. The Raps again struggled mightily and ended up losing 110-98. It is another tough pill to swallow but here’s the reality. This team is going to struggle without CB4 and will have a tough time beating mediocre teams. Fully healthy the Raps are an above average team and can match-up fairly well against anyone. When playing the elite of the NBA you don’t really expect them to win but feel there is a chance for them to steal one. On the flip side against the lesser teams you expect the Raps to walk away with the W. Without Bosh however the landscape changes. For a team that is weak on the glass and is lacking in a dominant low-post presence, losing its best big-man is devastating.
Think about the offense for a second. High-pick and rolls. Feeding the post. Kicking out of the double team. Almost all of our offensive sets somehow involve CB4. The team also relies heavily on his rebounding. Now with him out is it surprising that the offense looks disjointed and the team is getting dominated on the glass? I don’t find it surprising at all.
Basketball is a game of stars and without its lone star the Raps are going to struggle. You can call out Moon, Delfino and others for not playing at a higher level but the harsh reality is that they are complimentary players who in many ways rely on CB4 for their open looks and their offensive opportunities. The game just gets harder when Bosh is not on the floor. I am not try to make-up excuses here, the rebounding really was atrocious tonight and I am a firm believer that rebounding is all about effort, but CB4's presence is felt in almost all facets of the game. Again, not an excuse, just reality.
A Numbers Game
Offensive rebounding was the story of the game as the Bobcats had 18. The Raps? Try 6. The end result was the Raps getting shut-out in the second chance points category while the Bobcats essentially got a free quarter’s worth of points. Yup, the rebounding was so bad that it was the equivalent of the Raps having 4 quarters of possessions and the Bobcats 5. What makes it even worse is that the Raps shot over 50% from the field yet the Bobcats were a mere 42.6%. If the rebounding had even been slightly better this could have been a much closer game.
The Turning Point
Never in a million years did I ever think I would say this but the turning point is when Rasho cooled off. The big man played extremely well in the first quarter but from then on in it was all Bobcats all the time. The Raps small line-up in the second quarter wasn’t all that bad at the beginning. Joey at the 4 once again proved to be a useful exercise and he played some of his best ball of the year. His step-back jumper was smooth. Nevertheless, it was mid-way through the second quarter where the Bobcats started to assert their will on the glass and that pretty much did the Raps in.
Hot - Jason Richardson - Dude can play. Plain and simple. His shooting percentages may not be the best and he may not get to the line as much as he should but he is a great swingman. When he gets into a groove he is lethal on the offensive end. A great deal for the Bobcats in my opinion (albeit I am very biased as he is one of my favorite players) and he is still developing as a player.
Hot - Anthony Parker - He may have been the lone bright spot for the Raps the past two games bearing more of the scoring load and elevating his play. We saw this last year out of Parker when late in the season he started to be more assertive on the offensive end. It would help ease the burden on Bosh if he could have these sorts of nights when Bosh is on the floor.
Cold - Sam Mitchell - I thought tonight was another example of Sam simply just not adjusting properly. Hump played ok and didn’t see the floor nearly enough in my opinion. Same with Graham. Not once did I feel like Mitchell was trying to make Coach Vincent adjust. The only positive to take out of this is hopefully Bosh’s absence makes Mitchell look to draw up new schemes on both ends of the court. How about a play for Kapono? Remember last season when every opening play was the curl from Mo Pete? Let’s try that with Kap-One. Tonight’s coaching was simply baffling.
Hot - Jared Dudley - Loved this kid in college and it looks like the Bobcats got a steal late in the first round. He may not be the most polished of players but he likes to bang and do the dirty work. His double-double and +25 is a solid night at the office.
Not sure how the Raps are going to break out of this funk with a tough match-up against the Magic in Orlando. Dwight Howard could have an absolute field day. One thing the Raps cannot afford to do right now is allow this losing streak to continue much longer. There is a deadly west coast swing around the corner and if this team is not careful any hope of home-court advantage could disappear.