The Charlotte Bobcats left Oklahoma City Monday night scratching their heads after being thumped 114-69 by the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game was essentially over when Charlotte was down by 40 points at halftime and fans were seen heading for the exits, to presumably get an early start on wrapping gifts from Black Friday.
Was this just a bad night? Did the injury bug finally catch up with the Cats, or are they just that far away from being a top tier franchise? It could very well be a combination of all three. After enjoying the comforts of home for four straight games over a week ago, the Bobcats took to the road Saturday and struggled mightily to defeat the winless (0-12) Washington Wizards in double OT 108-106. A win is a win in this league, but when is a loss more than just a loss? When you lose by 45, questions certainly will abound.
With such a young team, struggling on the road is to be expected. Head coach Mike Dunlap is also juggling his lineup on a game-to-game basis, dealing with nagging injuries to Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas and second-year big man, Bismack Biyombo. Those are three key guys who see significant minutes for Charlotte and it has caused the team to rely more heavily on rookies to fill the void.
Jeffrey Taylor, the first-year guard from Vanderbilt, has a tremendous upside and has played well this season. Being assigned the daunting task of chasing around three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant for 48 minutes is enough to keep any veteran up at night, let alone a rookie in the 13th game of his career. With that said, the stage seemed a little overwhelming for the upstart franchise. The Thunder won the western conference last year and faced the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. They have two legitimate superstars in Durant and Russel Westbrook, and OKC head coach Scott Brooks was named coach of the year only two years ago.
If you are a Bobcats fan, Oklahoma City is the type of team you would want to model your franchise after. If you have an older brother, then you have surely suffered some lopsided defeats to him in the backyard. The Bobcats will surely learn from the beat down they suffered, but they will take that measuring stick that they carried to Oklahoma City and put it back in the closet at least until the All-Star break. The season is not even a quarter complete, but Charlotte has managed to duplicate its win total from a year ago (six) in just 13 games. With a turnaround like that, expectations can reach into the stratosphere. Nothing like a showdown in the backyard with your brother to stick a pin in that balloon and remind you to get back to work.