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In a game when the Panthers were being dominated, one of the things coach Jamie Dixon shouldn’t have to worry about is which player will take the ball out of bounds after the opposing team makes a basket, especially if that team has no intentions of pressing.
Toss the ball into James Robinson and go about your business, right? For some reason Saturday night, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna verbally sparred over who should be doing this seemingly effortless task against Oakland.
Midway through the second half Zanna was closer to the end line with Patterson almost to mid-court. For whatever reason Zanna was calling on Patterson to come back to make the inbounds pass. The Panthers were lucky they did not get a five-second call.
Patterson did not listen to Zanna and continued up the court, forcing Zanna to backtrack and throw the ball in. It was silly and to that point in the game perfectly illustrated how the Panthers were playing.
It’s a minor point now, especially after the Panthers came back to win, but I make it because Patterson and Zanna were far from effective in the game and seemed disconnected at times. Patterson has seemed that way for most of the first four games. He just can’t find a rhythm.
Against Oakland, Patterson was 0 for 7 from the field and finished with 2 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers. He is last on the team in scoring.
Zanna had eight points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. J.J. Moore, Zanna’s backup at power forward, played 25 minutes and led the Panthers in scoring with 16 points. He scored five of them in overtime.
Durand Johnson had five points, one assists and no turnovers in 11 minutes in place of Patterson.
This is not to suggest Dixon should be considering a lineup change after four consecutive victories to start the season, but finding the right chemistry and enough playing time for everyone is a delicate task Dixon must be able to handle.
Keeping everyone happy will be a big factor in how far this team goes in March. Patterson has not complained about his role. In fact, the other day he went out of his way to make sure he people knew that when I interviewed him.
The Panthers have won despite Patterson’s slow start. They’ll need him to score and play much better if they want to play deep into March.
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