Matt Carroll missed all four of his 3-point attempts Friday. Must've had a bad game, right?
Actually, no. He played longer (271/2 minutes) in the victory against the New Orleans Hornets than he did in the other four regular-season games combined.
The reason: On a team with a glut of shooters, Carroll showed coach Larry Brown he can do more than shoot.
He had four rebounds, three assists and a steal – cradling in the ball along the sideline in a play Brown singled out for praise in the team's video session Saturday.
“He made great hustle plays,” Brown said. “He defended well, he rebounded, he made the best play of the night with that steal. And he never got beat” defensively.
“Everybody knows he can shoot the ball. Do the other things – drive the ball, try to defend.”
Brown doesn't accept that players must be specialists. He thinks anyone good enough to play in the NBA has the athletic ability to be respectable in all areas.
For a reserve, Carroll represents a large investment; he's owed an average of $4.5 million over this and the next three seasons. So if he wants to stay here, playing with the versatility he did Friday is important.
“You never really know how long you'll be in there, coming off the bench,” Carroll said. “I tried to be just as aggressive as I could on the defensive end.
“I was trying to do the things that keep me on the court.”
Forward Gerald Wallace says this team never played better team defense than it did against the Hornets.
“We communicated better and were in much better position,” Brown said. “And Emeka ( Okafor) was phenomenal – running out on screens, real active, he rotated (to unguarded opponents) better than he ever has before. And we were getting to (outside) shooters, which we haven't.”
The challenge now is doing all that more than occasionally. Brown says the Bobcats just aren't talented enough to get away with playing inefficiently.
“We won (Friday) with defense, by sharing the ball, by rebounding. All the things we've been talking about.”