CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — It would be easy for Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap to tear up the blueprint amid a 16-game losing streak and come up with an entirely new plan.
But Charlotte's first-year coach has no plans for any such radical paper shredding.
Instead he's preaching patience.
When Dunlap looks at his team's struggles since opening the season 7-5 he recalls the growing pains Kevin Durant, Michael Westbrook and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder endured a few years ago before becoming Western Conference champions.
"Durant and Westbrook took a pounding in those first two years," Dunlap said. "My point is I look around the league and see how those seeds were born, what those guys did and how did that culture take off? Well it didn't take off right away, so I remind myself and my staff of that. It's incumbent on us to stay the course."
So Dunlap will stick with playing youngsters like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens and Jeffery Taylor. They will make mistakes. They will learn on the job.
Dunlap will also continue to stress things like pressuring the ball, help defense, pushing the ball up the floor, getting to the basket and drawing fouls as staples of the foundation he hopes to build.
Sure, the 16-game skid isn't fun.
The Bobcats know all too well about lengthy losing streaks.
They lost their final 23 games of last season to finish 7-59 under former coach Paul Silas. They added Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood during the offseason, bringing some veteran experience to an otherwise young team.
After an offseason where Dunlap stressed conditioning during marathon three- and four-hour practices, the Bobcats came out of the gates winning seven of their first 12 games matching last season's win total.
But things have gone downhill ever since a 45-point shellacking at the hands of the Thunder on Nov. 26.
It was a game the Bobcats said going in would be a great measuring stick for how far they'd come. But reality threw them for a loop and Dunlap's gang has struggled to get back on ever since.
Sixteen games. Sixteen losses.
They've lost them in a variety of ways, once blowing a 17-point lead with less than six minutes to play. They've been blown out of a few games, but for the most part have remained competitive.
The one consistent during the stretch is the lack of defense. The Bobcats have allowed 109 points per game during the losing streak.
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