As we noted when discussing his surprise at being double-teamed in the post by the Milwaukee Bucks a couple of weeks back, Charlotte Bobcats forward Byron Mullens isn't exactly known for his work in the paint. The 23-year-old 7-footer has been used largely as a stretch four by first-year Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap, using his shooting stroke to draw opposing big men away from the basket and provide spacing for slashers like Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to drive the lane. It hasn't always worked — he has hit only one-third of his attempts from between 15 and 19 feet out, and is shooting just a tick over 28 percent past 20 feet, according to NBA.com's shot-location statistics — but it's his role. Heading into Monday's matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, nearly two-thirds of Mullens' shots had come from 15 feet and beyond, less than 19 percent of his tries had come at the rim, and he'd dunked the ball (by my count, thanks to Synergy Sports Technology's video library) just eight times.
Early in the first quarter, Mullens made it nine — with authority — at the expense of the Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge, following his own missed 3-point try with a jam that (somewhat understandably) caught everyone by surprise and ranks among the league's best this season. Behold, thanks to our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute:
Dang. Hit the jump for closer look at the full-fledged poster(s):
The moment before, when it's too late to evacuate but the storm hasn't made landfall just yet:
LaMarcus Aldridge *just* realized how bad this is going to look. (Getty Images)
The moment of impact, when all you can do is brace yourself:
This is the one that'll be on Byron Mullens' wall. (Getty Images)
The immediate aftermath, where you just hope everyone lands safely:
Even in beautiful moments, we sometimes make unattractive faces. (Getty Images)
Whew. Byron Mullens really did that. This won't change his burgeoning reputation as a perimeter-oriented big more likely to jack five 3-pointers a game than go to work in the post, but it might serve as the genesis of a new addendum to that rep: "If he goes up on you, be ready to foul, because you might get got."
It wasn't all getting-dunked-on-by-Byron-Mullens for Aldridge, though — far from it, in fact.
With more attention paid of late to his own increasingly perimeter-focused game, Portland's main man bullied his way toward the bucket all night against the Bobcats, going 7 for 10 on tries at the rim and 11 for 15 from inside 15 feet en route to a monster night — 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, making him the first player in the NBA this season to go for at least 25-10-5-3 in a game, according to Basketball-Reference.com (with a hat-tip to the Trail Blazers' public relations team).
The scoring of Aldridge and guard Wesley Matthews kept Portland in the game through the first three quarters, and after entering the fourth down by five points, the combination of Aldridge, swingman Nicolas Batum and rookie point guard Damian Lillard — 32 points, 18 rebounds, five assists in the game's final 17 minutes — brought the Blazers all the way back to tie it at the end of regulation, force overtime and come away with a 118-112 overtime win in a game they trailed by 14 after the first quarter. (Credit also goes to reserve Portland shooter Luke Babbitt, who shook off a season-long cold snap to score nine points on three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.)
Mullens, for his part, finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Guards Ben Gordon (29 points off the bench, including an 8-for-12 mark from long range) and Kemba Walker (22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals) led the Bobcats, who fall to 7-9 after their fourth straight loss.
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