On their way to getting trounced by the Cleveland Cavaliers by a pitiful score of 122-95, the Charlotte Bobcats submitted a disgraceful performance on the defensive end. More times than not, it looked as if they were waiting on Lennay Kekua to hedge or come with help-defense.
Cleveland was already ahead 100-67 at the end of the third quarter, which led them to sit their star Kyrie Irving for the entire fourth quarter. That’s right. The Cavs scored 122 points and Irving only played 28 minutes.
To begin with, the Bobcats were out-rebounded 45-37 by Cleveland, including allowing the Cavs to grab 10 offensive boards. For Charlotte, this is one of the things that they can’t allow to happen. They are such an inefficient offensive team, 28th in the NBA at 42.4 percent, that they can’t afford to give their opponents extra shot opportunities. It digs too large of a hole.
One of the more surprising lines from the night is that the Bobcats only forced the Cavaliers to commit six total turnovers in the game. Charlotte is averaging more steals per game, 7.4, than they forced turnovers on Wednesday night. That is pretty indicative of a lack of focus and intensity on the defensive end.
The Bobcats have consistently struggled with their perimeter defense this season and their interior defense has been up-and-down. Cleveland made them look abysmal in both regards, though.
For the game, Charlotte allowed five Cavaliers players to score in double-digits, four of them having 16 or more points. In addition, all 13 of the Cavaliers players on their roster touched the floor and 12 of them scored.
To make matters even worse, the Bobcats allowed the Cavs to shoot 56.5 percent from the field. That would be bad enough, but Charlotte made it more abysmal by allowing Cleveland to take 92 shots. Even being one of the worst defensive teams in the league, the Bobcats only allow 83.5 opposing shot attempts per game, so to allow 92 attempts in a game is just plain awful.
But what made the Bobcats’ defensive performance on Wednesday unbearable, even more than the lop-sided score and the statistics, was how disinterested Charlotte became in the game. They jogged up and down the floor, didn’t hustle to close out on shooters, didn’t help when primary defenders got beat and seemed to just not care that they were playing a basketball game.
Whether this team is 11-37 or 48-0, a lethargic and apathetic performance like that is unacceptable in the NBA. You may not be hitting your shots, getting the calls or be able to contain your opponent, but that never warrants not putting in an effort.
If the Bobcats are serious about building a franchise that’s capable of competing, they already have the deck stacked against them because of their losing-trend in recent years. And if you couple that with a team that’s not going to try all of the time, nothing is going to change in Charlotte.
Sometimes, it’s just not a team’s night and they get blown out. That’s fine. Sometimes, your opponent is on fire. That happens. Those things can be moved past, but visible apathy on the court can’t be. Charlotte’s shameful defensive performance on Wednesday has to be addressed firmly.
And after that, hopefully it won’t happen again, because it was downright sickening.