If there’s one thing everyone should know about the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s that they are not a great shooting team. The roster is built mostly on cutters – players who drive to the paint to score.
And tonight, against one of the best teams in the league, the Bobcats tried to cap a rally by trying to become what they most certainly are not. Of course, it didn’t work as Charlotte’s offense couldn’t keep up with Miami’s and the Bobcats fell to the Heat, 109-97.
The game started off as well as a Bobcats fan could hope, with Boris Diaw facilitating early and getting Kwame Brown involved, leading to a 17-9 lead going into the first timeout. From there, the Heat got back into it with LeBron contributing by hitting all four of his first-half shots. Also helping out was Dwyane Wade, who was said to be unsure about even playing tonight (yeah, right). Wade was making the hard shots and getting to the cup without too much trouble.
Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace also played well in the first half. Jackson was hitting his shots, mostly mid-range jumpers, at a decent clip and even drew fouls to get to the line. At the half, he had 11 points on 3-6 shooting and 4-4 from the stripe. Gerald Wallace was great in the first half as well, hitting five of 11 shots, including a three and he added three free throws for 14 points in the first half. D.J. Augustin also was playing well as far as passing, although his shooting left much to desire.
But keeping the Bobcats from leading in the first half was their interior defense. LeBron and Wade both can drive into the paint with such ease that opponents must have good transition and interior defenses. While the Bobcats are decent on transition defense, their interior defense still isn’t anything to be afraid of, even with Kwame Brown’s resurgence. Anyway, when LeBron or Wade drove to the paint, the Bobcats interior defense would collapse to compensate, leaving Miami’s spot-up men alone at the arc. The driving ballhandler kicks out to the sharpshooter and Bobcats players rush to contest the shot but it’s too late. The result? In the first half, Mike Miller was 3-3 and Eddie House was 1-1 from deep. This also occurred with the Bobcats’ big men leaving Zydrunas Ilgauskas alone to guard the paint. Ilgauskas would knock down three out of four mid-range shots in the first half.
The score at the half was Miami – 59, Charlotte – 55.
Then came the Bobcats’ worst fear – the third quarter. Somehow they survived, mostly by playing better defense than the first two quarters, “holding” the Heat to 50% shooting while the Bobcats managed 44%. As such, the Bobcats had a very manageable six-point deficit heading into the final quarter.
In one of the more noggin-scratching moves of the night, Paul Silas started Sherron Collins at the point to begin the fourth quarter. If Sherron Collins’ defense was a publicly held corporation that sold stock, you either should have sold it when he stepped on the court. In the first two minutes of the 4th quarter, Eddie House (Sherron’s man) hit 3 three-pointers. And while Sherron did hit a three of his own, that’s just not enough. I understand that Livingston doesn’t have the shooting ability from deep that Collins has, but Livingston’s defense and length are assets that definitely would have helped in the fourth. Regardless, the Heat turned a 6-point lead into a 12-point lead.
But then the Bobcats began to climb back into it with Augustin back in. With eight minutes left, the Bobcats were right back in the game, only down by six.
But then the Bobcats tried to be who they weren’t, as I mentioned way above. Despite having most of their success from good ball movement and getting the rock into the paint, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin started jacking long range jump shots that just weren’t falling. Augustin ended the night shooting 1-6 FG and 1-4 from three. Jackson went 1-5 from the field in the fourth, with three missed treys in the final period. I understand that the Bobcats had to resort to shooting the long ball to try to get back into the game, but that should only come with a big deficit with not a lot of time left. Down six points with about seven minutes left is not the time to abandon your strengths to try for the quick fix. While the Bobcats were shooting poorly, the Heat were not. Chris Bosh emerged from his poor first three quarters with 8 points in the final 12 minutes. Either way, the Bobcats killed themselves in the fourth. But, it was an entertaining game for most of the night and the Heat are an extremely good team, especially when all of their ‘Big Three’ are healthy (Wade had a triple double and LeBron was two rebounds and an assist away from a triple double).
The Bobcats had some great plays in this game, despite the loss. In the second quarter the Bobcats went on a dunk parade with Gerald Henderson smashing a couple and Gerald Wallace getting in on the action. There was also a very nice play at the end of the first half where Augustin split a double-team beneath the basket to find a cutting Derrick Brown who got the bucket and drew the foul.
Wallace: 9-19 FG, 25 PTS, 10 REBS, 2 AST, 1 BLK
Jackson: 7-17 FG, 25 PTS, 3 REBS, 5 AST, 2 STL
Henderson: 6-10 FG, 14 PTS, 2 REBS, 1 AST, 3 BLK (I love that he’s developing into a great 6th man)
Wade: 8-20 FG, 22 PTS, 12 REBS, 10 AST
James: 7-13 FG, 19 PTS, 8 REBS, 9 AST
And a quick note: Yes, the officiating was iffy at best in the fourth quarter (in favor of the Heat, of course), but to blame the whole loss on the referees is absolutely absurd. The Bobcats got to the line more than the Heat did anyway. The real blame for this loss resides on the Heat being a superiorly talented team and the Bobcats straying from their best offensive strategy.
– Cardboard Gerald
You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald, @BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.