Let's start with the good news. We saw more effort out of the team as a whole than we have since the debacle in Philly. This was a loss, but it was an honest loss. It was not a repeat of the Washington game. I think everybody can live with that. If there are shortcomings in our team, so be it. We can deal with those. More importantly we can see a game and still applaud and feel decent at the end. This wasn't our greatest game, but it was a game that you could feel OK about.
Now for the bad news: our defense was downright awful tonight. You pretty much knew going in that the high-powered (or at least medium-powered) Bobcats guards along with Gerald Wallace were going to be a handful. We made it pretty easy on them though. This team gets few assists. We gave them 21. They shoot a poor percentage. We allowed them to shoot 47%. We left shooters open. We let their athletes run by virtue of our careless ball handling. A quarter of their point total came off of our turnovers. You're not going to win when that happens. Again, it wasn't hard to predict these things would happen, but the reality probably exceeded even the Bobcats' expectations.
Other than some fine shooting from the three-point arc and the free throw line (finally!) this wasn't our sharpest offensive game either. We need to find a way to get easy buckets, whether that's on the break, in the post, or off of cuts and motion. We've become a jump-shooting team almost exclusively now and jump-shooting teams just don't win in this league. It's one thing to take what the defense gives you. It's another entirely to take what the defense wants you to take. We aren't even pushing the issue anymore. We happily hoist 18-23 foot jump shots and abandon all control of the paint. It doesn't matter how well we shoot, we just won't score enough that way to overcome the easy points we cede.
It didn't help that we also got blown out of the water rebounding for most of the game. It was pretty sick at some points. This is such a chronic issue for us. It's not like our guys are dogging it, they just don't have the bulk, intensity, or technique to succeed.
Combine the rebounding deficit and the turnover differential and you get something roughly equivalent to Time of Possession in football. It doesn't always show up in the score or indicate wins and losses, but if you're losing the battle week after week you're in trouble. The other team is going to win by controlling the ball (and thus the game). To this point our opponents are averaging 7 more shots a game than we do. Keep in mind we are not playing last year's slow-down game either. Even if they only convert 3 of those 7 shots that's 6 points we're spotting the enemy every night. You can't win that way.
--Lamarcus Aldridge got into foul trouble early and never really got into the game. He played 20 minutes, took only 6 shots, and got 1 rebound. I feel safe saying we will win exactly zero games this year when that happens.
--Brandon Roy's woes were exacerbated by Lamarcus' absence. He didn't get a second of daylight tonight. You have to give Charlotte credit. They played him just like they wanted to. Roy hit only 4-13 shots. But on the bright side he drew double-digit foul shots for the second game in a row. We really need that from him. It's good to see him driving and getting respect from the refs, both qualities being unique to him on this team. He also got 5 rebounds and 5 assists to go along with his 17 points. Even a so-so game for Brandon is pretty darn good.
--It's a complete injustice that Martell had a fairly non-descript box score tonight. The first half he put together was better than any game I've seen from him. He was the guy bringing energy, hustle, and spirit. The only stat line that comes close to describing it is his amazing 4 blocks. His 6 rebounds was pretty nice. Neither one show what he really brought. He was playing on a different level than any other Blazer. Complete standing ovation for him tonight.
--Joel Przybilla also got into foul trouble tonight. He had some nice defensive stands but only played 14 minutes and registered 1 rebound. That won't cut it. He looked tired towards the end of his stint as well. I still wonder if he's physically ready for the role he's being called upon to play this year.
--Jarrett Jack had another spark-plug game. In fact it looked for a while like he and Martell might carry us. 6-9 shooting, 5-5 free throws off of some great drives, 18 points. We need him to make that kind of contribution every night.
--Steve Blake had a great stat line. 5-8 shots, 4-5 from distance, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. He didn't help a ton on defense that I could see. Also the fact that he's never finishing off of the dribble is really starting to hurt us. His drives don't affect the defense at all. Nobody moves except his own man who stays in front of him. We need him to at least be a credible threat off the drive otherwise half of his effectiveness is taken away.
--Channing Frye had his best night as a Blazer. 9 points, 8 rebounds isn't bad for him. He gave more energy tonight too. He's still not close to looking like the answer to anything but maybe this is a step.
--With the foul trouble for the bigs Travis got 33 minutes. He did get 5 rebounds and he shot reasonably well but I saw him as one of our defensive problems also. It's hard to be satisfied with the way he's playing.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
For a change the supporting cast came through tonight while the key players faltered.