Ten things I have heard or learned since the Bobcats last won a game, Nov. 24 in Washington (double-overtime):
1. When Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap told TNT analyst David Aldridge he didn’t “trust” the 7-5 start, it might have been the most telling moment this season. I had the same misgivings. They beat some bad teams, some injured teams and one team (Indiana) that was flabbergasted they’d play a matchup zone.
2. Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry thinks Dunlap has great technical knowledge of basketball and consistently gets his teams to play hard. They know each other from the time they spent in Colorado. But Gentry, who grew up in Shelby, asked about Dunlap’s gruff, intense persona. Sometimes Dunlap has a stare that could melt brick.
3. The Bobcats have become the kings of shot-clock violations. They’ve committed four 24-second violations in the first two games of this West Coast trip. Some teams go a month without four shot-clock violations.
4. The Bobcats gave up 61 percent shooting from 3-point range Wednesday against the Suns. They have the third-worst 3-point defense in the NBA, allowing more than 37percent for the season. The Bobcats were maybe the worst team in the league last season at giving up baskets at the rim. The things they’ve done to address that (zone or emphatic double-teams) now make them susceptible to spot-up shooters all along the 3-point line. It must be on every NBA scouting report that the 3 will be open.
5. One of the things that accounted for that 7-5 start was the Bobcats going 4-1 in games decided by three points or less. They don’t have the firepower to blow out most teams, so they have to exploit close games. Since those first 12 games, they’re 0-3 in games decided by three points or less.
6. Ramon Sessions, clearly the best free-agent signing in Bobcats history, is fallible. He was 1-for-4 Wednesday for two points against the Suns.
7. Rookie Jeff Taylor offers enough defense that you can live with a shooting slump. But it should be noted that he is 7-for-27 from the field in his past four games. He’ll adapt, but he isn’t there yet.
8. Addendum on the Taylor point: About a week ago I was inundated with calls for the Bobcats to pursue the best trade they could for Gerald Henderson as soon as possible, because clearly Taylor is the answer. A rush to judgment? Yes.
9. Fans get on Byron Mullens for his 37percent shooting, but Dunlap has praised Mullens frequently of late. That’s because Mullens has 26 rebounds over his past two games. Mullens knows the more he rebounds the more he’ll play.
10. The Bobcats are neither as bad as last season, nor as good as that 7-5 start. They’re young, with three starters having less than two full seasons in the NBA. Management has told Dunlap to value player development over short-term gains. That’s as it should be.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell