Bonner is actively hurting this team right now. And I'm not saying Bonner was some horrifying monster in OT. He was actually playing better d than he did the whole game. The main point is that it's a 48 (or 52, in this case) minute game, and Bonner’s worst defensive possessions are so much worse than anyone else on the team. He tends to have 4 or 5 of them every game, too. It’s not just crunch time. He forces our good defenders to overcommit. In this game, Tim had to over-help off Scola way, way too often. The Rockets just kept running a play where Martin would drive it through Bonner, Tim would have to help to prevent the layup, and then Martin would pass out to a wide open Scola in his sweet spot. Every time. And it was money. While Bonner was just fine in overtime, you can’t just praise a guy or excuse their overall play for showing up on D for 5 minutes.
Now, I'd stop short of putting the entire game on Bonner. Pretty far short of that. But I do think Bonner deserves a lot of flak right now. Because Hill, Blair, and Neal have all had their moments in the last 3 or 4 games. Bonner has had zero moments whatsoever. He looks virtually gone. We need to switch up the rotations, somehow. There are certain teams he’s valuable against — Miami, possibly OKC, Hornets, etc. When there aren’t too many scoring bigs on the court, he can do some stuff, because you can hide him on D. Joel Anthony is not going to score on Bonner, for instance. Perkins may not be able to either. But if you can’t hide Bonner on D (and with Chuck Hayes on the block and Scola at the 4-spot, you cannot possibly hope to hide him) you simply can't play him more than 15 minutes unless he’s canning 50%+ of his threes. You just can’t. Not if you want to win comfortably.
The reason Bonner gets most of my ire right now is that, frankly, he’s lost us 2 or 3 of these games in this streak virtually by himself. Teams pound whoever he’s guarding and more often than not it leads to a open basket or a confused defensive possession where someone has to overcommit or rotate strangely, and give up an open shot when the tertiary defenders can't recover. In the 3rd quarter against the Celtics, for instance, Bonner came into the game and got matched on Jeff Green. Celtics pounded it to green for 7 straight points, taking their lead from 2 to 9 in about a minute and a half. We weren't particularly competitive the rest of the game. And Jeff Green, let's be honest, is a pretty atrocious player. But even he can take advantage of Bonner. He's just a huge defensive sieve, moreso than anyone else on the team. He’s doing terrible things to our team defense.
This particular game, no, Bonner was not the only factor in the loss. I personally put it on every player outside of Tim or Tony (Manu played very well in the 2nd half and OT, and deserves props for that, but he was boneheaded in the 1st half and if he’d just played a bit better then, it wouldn’t have needed to go to OT anyway). Nobody outside of those two were consistently productive the entire game. And while we can cry refs, it was their homecourt. They'll get those kinds of calls there. And the Lakers will get those kinds of calls in staples. We'll get those kinds of calls in the AT&T center. Which is, you know, one of those silly old benefits of home court advantage.
Ugh. Awful game. Not feeling too great about how we're looking... I'm elated to see how lights-out Tony, Tim, and Manu are playing right now, though. That gives me some hope for the playoffs. But our bit players need to get out of their slumps, and we need to start playing 48 minutes of solid D. And some of that is going to have to come from lowering Bonner's minutes. I think. Any thoughts?