Let's Talk about the Bobcats Game

The Bobcats had no idea what was coming - USA TODAY Sports

This is an attempt to look at the Bobcats game in context ... to see what kind of dominance it really was ... and to do so without either shrugging the game off or making it mean more than what it was. Because although it was just one game, although the Bobcats lose a lot — domination like Friday's game is NOT commonplace

What did that game mean? Well, since a couple months ago I infamously wrote that you can't tell much of anything from a single game, I'd be a little inconsistent to claim this win means ... well anything beyond itself.

But it's also worth noting that this doesn't mean the accomplishments should be discounted either. Let's put this win in context, particularly in context of the Bobcats' season because, as we are reminded again and again, they are terrible.

Specifically, let's look at what the Jazz did against the Bobcats and then see how often this has happened this year.

  1. The Jazz won by 30 points.
  2. The Jazz held the Bobcats to 68 points.
  3. The Jazz held the Bobcats to 9 first quarter points and 24 points in the first half.
  4. The Jazz outrebounded the Bobcats 62-24.
  5. The Bobcats shot under 36%.
  6. The Jazz defensive efficiency was 78.1 pts/100 possessions
  7. The Jazz had an offensive efficiency of 112.5 pts/100 possessions.

So let's look at each of these accomplishements, one at a time. And lest we forget, let's honor those who made this win happen:

Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Randy Foye, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeremy Evans.

Everything you're about to read was done primarily by them:

1. The Jazz won by 30 points.

This matches the Bobcats' 2nd worst loss of the year. Just for fun, let's look at the Bobcats' worst losses and see who did it.

  1. 45-point loss to Oklahoma City
  2. 30-point losses to Utah, Chicago, and San Antonio
  3. 27-point losses to Cleveland, Dallas, and Indiana
  4. 24-point losses to Indiana and San Antonio
  5. A 23-point loss to Atlanta
  6. A 22-point loss to the Clippers

Aside from a single outlier (Cleveland), that is a lot of high quality teams on that list. In other words, the Jazz did NOT beat the Bobcats in the way everybody beats them. The Jazz beat the Bobcats in the way an really good teams occasionally beat them.

This was not a normal win. The Jazz did not play like a typical NBA team.

2. The Jazz held the Bobcats to 68 points.

That was the fewest points the Bobcats have scored all season. Here are the Cats' games in which they scored 80 or fewer points.

  1. Loss to the Thunder (69 points scored)
  2. Loss to Chicago (75 points scored)
  3. Losses to Philly and Indiana (76 points scored)
  4. Loss to Indiana (77 points scored)
  5. Loss to the Spurs and Toronto (78 points scored)

No other team has held the Bobcats to 80 points or fewer.

3. The Jazz held the Bobcats to 9 first quarter points and 24 first-half points

Now the Bobcats are a crummy offensive team. As in 2nd-worst-in-the-NBA crummy. So let's look at what kind of futility for a single quarter and single half the Bobcats have had this year:

Points scored in a quarter

  1. 12 points (OKC)
  2. 13 points (Houston)
  3. 14 points (Indiana)
  4. 15 points (Chicago twice, LAC, LAL, Brooklyn)
  5. 16 points (Indiana, New Orleans, Toronto)
  6. 17 points (7 times)
  7. 18 points (8 times)
  8. 19 points (5 times)

Put it together and you see a team that regularly scores under 20 points in a quarter. But not only have the Bobcats never had a single-digit quarter besides the Jazz game, only three other times has it been under 15. Again we see that the defense was unusually good — even considering the quality of the opponent.

Points scored in a half

  1. 24 against Oklahoma City
  2. 33 against Indiana
  3. 36 against Indiana
  4. 37 against Chicago, Philly, and San Antonio
  5. 38 against Memphis, Miami, Brooklyn, Houston, and Chicago
  6. 39 against Indiana, Toronto, and Clippers.

So not only did the Jazz force them to tie their season-worst (24 points), nothing else is even close.

4. The Jazz outrebounded the Bobcats 62-24

This one's funny. Only seven times in the history of the NBA has ANY team been outrebounded by 38 or more. Before Friday's game, the last one was in the 90's. In fact, the other six all happened between 1989 and 1998.

Now back to the Bobcats. The worst they have been outrebounded in the past two years have been by:

  1. 29 rebounds (Indiana)
  2. 25 rebounds (Atlanta)
  3. 24 rebounds (Indiana)
  4. 20 rebounds (Philly twice and New York)

Of these games, only two have occurred this season (29 by Indiana and 20 by Philly). In fact, a team has outrebounded an opponent by 25 or more rebounds only four times all year. Two have already been mentioned (Jazz +38 Friday and Indiana +29 against the Bobcats). Minnesota got +25 against the Heat, and the Heat got +25 against Toronto.

And a funny point of comparison: the Jazz have only outrebounded a team by 30 three times in the history of the franchise. In 1990 they outrebounded the Warriors by 30, and in 1997 they outrebounded the Raptors by 30. That's it.

And let's talk about Kanter's 22 rebounds. The Bobcats have allowed a player to get 20 or more rebounds only one other time this year: to Lavoy Allen of the 76ers. The next best games are Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah getting 18 against them.

5. The Bobcats shot under 35% (34.6%) from the field

This has only happened to the Bobcats five additional times this year:

  1. 29.1% against the Thunder
  2. 30.7% against Philly
  3. 31.7% against Indiana
  4. 33.3% against Chicago
  5. 34.7% against Indiana

Again, the although the Bobcats are consistently terrible, the Jazz held them to an unusually low percentage ... even for them.

6. The Jazz DRtg was 78.1

This is harder to look up unless you want to look every game one at a time (BBR does not have the ability to search for games with DRtg or ORtg as criteria). But look at the averages:

The Bobcats Offensive Efficiency for the season is 100.8 points per 100 possessions. The Jazz held them more than 20 points below their average! That's terrific.

The best defensive team in the league (the Pacers) allow 98.8 points per 100 possessions. The Jazz held them more than 20 points below this. Again, this is terrific.

Again, while the Bobcats are often bad, they are almost never THIS bad. The Jazz game was unusually dominant ... even against this crappy team.

All the defense together

This was the biggest defensive butt-whooping the Bobcats have had all season long. It wasn't just another typical Bobcats game, it was extraordinary, elite, and just dominant. The Jazz made the Bobcats shoot terribly, kept them from scoring, and got almost every rebound. That's a trifecta of hoplessness that is really hard to match. Here's the only comparable games this year:

Oklahoma City beat the Hornets 119-74, holding the Hornets to 35.1% shooting and outrebounded them by 23.

Chicago beat Atlanta 97-58, holding the Hawks to 29.3% shooting and outrebounded them by 20.

And how about we get into some Jazz history? Let's look at game the Jazz won by 25, held opponents to 75 points or fewer, forced 37% shooting or worse, and outrebounded the opponent by 20. Here's how many times this has happened:

Three times.

November 18, 2000: Jazz beat the post-Jordan Bulls 109-64, held them to 34.6% shooting, and outrebounded them by 21.

December 18, 2001: Jazz beat the Heat 95-56, held them to 27.7% shooting and outrebounded them by 29.

And Friday night against the Bobcats.

7. The Jazz had an ORtg of 112.5

This is better than the team's offensive efficiency for the year. And yes, it was just the Bobcats ... but it was also slightly above what the Bobcats give up on average (111.1 per 100 possessions). So amid all this crazy defense, the Jazz were actually slightly above average offensively.

And this is noteworthy, because the claim is that sans Al Jefferson the team will struggle to score. Well, it did just fine that game.

But there's more ...

Four players were terrible against the Bobcats: Kevin Murphy, Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson, and Marvin Williams. They combined to shoot 0-7, score 1 point, and give up 6 turnovers. Isn't it interesting that even though they were playing against the dreadful Bobcats, Marv, Earl, and Jamaal crapped themselves offensively? So let's see what the team's offensive efficiency would be like without these three dragging it down:

How about 124.6 points per 100 possessions.

That's no longer slightly above average. That's really good.

But it was just one game

So let's talk about this. Will Kanter put up 23 & 33 every game? No. Will the C4 have a 124.6 ORtg every game? No. Will the C4 lead a defense that has a 78.1 DRtg, hold opponents to under 35% shooting and under 70 points while outrebounding them by 38 ... every game? No.

But before we shrug it all off, let's look at reality:

  1. Only four players in the history of the NBA have averaged 20 & 20, and nobody has since 1969.
  2. The highest ORtg in the history of the NBA is 115.6, by the Showtime Lakers in 1987.
  3. The lowest DRtg in the history of the NBA is 91.3. The lowest two since 1975 is 94.1 (Spurs in 2003-04) and 95.0 (Spurs in 1999).
  4. The biggest rebounding differential I can find for a season is Boston in 1974-75. They outrebounded opponents by 7.1 rebounds per game.

So while this performance cannot be the norm, it has nothing to do with youth, inconsistency, or whatever. This performance is unsustainable because it is impossible to do. Nobody sustains this ... not even the best teams in the history of the NBA. Not even the best players in the history of the NBA.

* * *

I'm reminded a bit of James Harden. His scoring efficiency was insane last year. 49% FG, 39% 3P, 85% FT, 66.0% True Shooting Percentage. As he became the featured scorer for the Rockets this year, there were many who expected his efficiency to drop because he was going from a 3rd option and 6th man to a 1st option and a starter. And his efficiency did drop.

But it didn't drop because he's not a first option. It dropped because his season last year was historically good—as in no SG in the history of the NBA ever had a true shooting percentage that high while being even a #3 option. Because the only way to sustain his performance last year over an entire career is to be God. His drop has nothing whatsoever to do with becoming a #1 option.

And for all the brouhaha of his drop, he's still the tenth most efficient scorer in the league. And of the top 20 only Durant, LeBron, Kevin Martin, and Tony Parker have comparable scoring roles.

So no ... the C4 won't pull off a game like that every time. Because it's impossible. But that also doesn't mean they won't still be terrific given an entire season of leading the team. In fact, this game tells us little more than what we already know: they play defense well, they rebound the ball well from all positions, and their offense is still a work-in-progress that, at times, lets us feel very hopeful.

There's nothing earth-shattering there.

* * *

So instead of dousing us with qualifiers, let's celebrate the game for what it was:

  1. The most dominant defensive performance by a Jazz team in a decade.
  2. One of the top 5 most dominant defensive performances by any team this year.
  3. One of the seven most dominant rebounding performances by any team in the history of the NBA.
  4. The most dominant rebounding performance by any team in over 15 years.
  5. A good offensive performance that was only kept from being elite by three terrible vets and one 2nd round pick who may not be an NBA-caliber player.
  6. Enes Kanter's 20 & 20 game that was the 7th youngest in NBA history and one of only 24 in NBA history that involved shooting at least 80% from the field.
  7. Jeremy Evans showing us that he has a jumper—which changes everything about him as a player if he can hit it consistently.
  8. Only the second 30-point win of the year for the Jazz, one led completely by the C4—and this is important—who were still imperfect.

That gets overlooked too much. It wasn't a perfect performance at all. It wasn't a dominant game that happened only because everything went right. It was dominance with room for improvement.

Whew.

I can't be the only one drooling for he chance to see them get more opportunities to lead the team. Right?

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