It was a statement on the Charlotte Bobcats’ big-man problem that even when his four power forwards and centers shot 3-of-17 Wednesday, coach Mike Dunlap sounded reluctant to shift the rotation.
“Unfortunately that graph line hasn’t shown any change,” Dunlap replied about whether playing Tyrus Thomas or Gana Diop made any sense going forward.
The Bobcats lost their 16th straight at home Wednesday, falling to the Atlanta Hawks 104-92. The lack of interior scoring isn’t a new problem, but it certainly came to a head Wednesday. Power forwards Hakim Warrick and Jeff Adrien and centers Bismack Biyombo and Brendan Haywood combined for 16 points over 88 minutes played.
The Bobcats (10-32) are a guard-driven team and there’s only so much guards can do to drive NBA basketball. Reserve point guard Ramon Sessions scored a season-high 27 points. Kemba Walker added 11 and Ben Gordon came off the bench for 15.
That means no Bobcat taller than 6-foot-3 reached 10 points Wednesday. That’s going to lose most nights in the NBA.
Particularly so when matched against Hawks forward Josh Smith. Even while committing seven turnovers, Smith was spectacular Wednesday with 30 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
The Hawks (24-18) were shorthanded Wednesday; their two best big men, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia, both missed the game with leg injuries. So Smith moved from small forward to power forward and became a matchup nightmare.
“When he plays that type of game, he’s one of the best all-around players in the league,” Sessions said of Smith. “He’s a small forward, but he can post up. That’s a tough matchup for anyone.”
Smith’s assaults on the rim actually provided one of the few Bobcats highlights Wednesday. Biyombo blocked Smith at the basket in a play that made him look like shot-blocker extraordinaire (and ex-Hawk) Dikembe Mutombo.
There was little else to get the home crowd out of their seats. The Bobcats are now three home losses away from tying the longest such losing streak in NBA history. Their next three opponents in Time Warner Cable Arena: The Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics next month.
Despite Horford’s and Pachulia’s absence, the Hawks grabbed an eight-point first-quarter lead and never trailed after that. Dunlap took the blame for that on himself.
“We definitely weren’t switched on, we didn’t give it a good go,” Dunlap said. “It’s the head coach’s job to get them ready to go. So that’s on me.”