The 2012 Season is underway! There's a lot of excitement surrounding the season and a lot of hopes and dreams as well. We've got some young budding talent to add to a number of seasoned vets that are ready to step up to the challenge of being THE Charlotte Bobcats. With a number of players playing tonight that were not with the team last season; we've got a lot to talk about. I know I speak for the whole lot of us when I say that I'm glad that the lockout has ended and we're back to playing games. There are a number of things people will need to take into consideration about this abbreviated season. The teams have been together for maybe two weeks. Not very much time to gel. Not very much time to be in basketball shape. Not a whole lot of time for the coaching staff to develop players, but the Bobcats were able to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks with a final score of 96-95!
First quarter started off well for the Cats. They hit their first 6 shots before missing 12 of their next 15. Notable performances include Dubz getting the start for an injured Tyrus Thomas, who battled for put backs and hit a few shots. Much of the offense went through Boris Diaw, who shot well, passed well, and rebounded well in the first half. Kemba Walker started off the game a little rough as he was basically abused by Beno Udrih, and a much taller Shaun Livingston for much of the 2nd quarter. Bismack Biyombo saw very limited play as he was a little out of control at times and needed to find his center before he could make a difference in the game.
At the half, Boris had 8 pts, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists leading the Bobcats in the latter two categories. Gerald Henderson had the pts lead with 9. Ironically, Shaun Livingston led both teams with 11 pts with a 2nd quarter pasting of the Cats. He used his height to abuse Gerald, Matt Carroll, and Kemba Walker. Other than shooting (an obvious issue with the Cats), the team desperately needs to improve its rebounding as they were mauled by a Milwaukee team that simply outworked the Bobcats. The Cats often had better position and were outworked.
In the third the Bobcats showed a bit more heart as Corey Maggette came out charging! He tempted Jack into picking up his 5h foul and his 1st technical of the year (no surprise there). DJ Augustin got the scoring going with a few 3's and kicked his point total to 12. Diop saw extended minutes in order to get our rebounding in order. He was horrid on offense, but wrapped up 7 rebounds in a short about of time to give the Cats a number of second chances. Kemba lead a late quarter charge with some jaw-dropping moves off the dribble. Gerald Henderson knocked in his 1st 3 of the season as well as a block on Mike Dunleavy. The Bobcats went on a massive run as Drew Gooden MAULED Gerald Henderson and was ejected. Finishing the 3rd quarter on a 27-7 run!
The Bobcats had a lot of opportunities to put the Bucks away, but they couldn't capitalize and let them hang around. Corey Maggette had a number of timely shots to keep the Bobcats in the game. The Bobcats outworked the Bucks and took advantage of some poor shooting by taking an eight-point lead. DJ Augustin, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and BJ MULLENS hit some killer shots to maintain the lead for the majority of the quarter. There was a lot of fight left in Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings knocked down back-to-back 3-point shots, while Mike Dunleavy hit another to put the Bucks up by 1. The Bobcats weren't done as DJ Augustin nailed a lay-up with heavy contention. In a bit of a scary play, DJ Augustin appeared to have rolled his ankle on a foul by Brandon Jennings. On the ensuing possession, Kemba Walker grabbed a rebound and drew a foul from Brandon Jennings as Walker KNOCKED DOWN THE GAME WINNING FREE THROWS!
We learned a lot about Kemba Walker and DJ Augustin tonight. We learned that they CAN co-exist (and do it well). We learned that they are both ready to LEAD this team. We learned that they have worked on their game and are ready to go for the coming NBA season. This is going to be fun to watch. Bismack Biyombo only played 5 minutes in the game, but he clearly needs more coaching and practicing with the team before he can attribute to this team. BJ Mullens had a spectacular game off the bench, but no one had a better game than Gerald Henderson, who finished the game with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Great come back win for the Cats to start the season.
TSP Gamebreaker Award: This has to go to DJ Augustin, in my mind. He ran the floor, committed very few turnovers and kept the team in the game when they needed it the most. He was a leader in every sense of the word. DJ Augustin is going to be a very fun player to watch this coming season.
Kemba Walker- 13 pts and 7 rebounds on 3-10 shooting (7-7 ft)
DJ Augustin- 19 pts and 8 assists on 7-16 shooting
Gerald Henderson- 18 pts and 9 rebounds on 7-14 shooting
Boris Diaw- 9 pts, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists on 4-9 shooting
Byron Mullens- 10 pts on 5-7 shooting
Other Newsworthy notes - Several Carolina Panthers were in attendance, including Cam Newton. Derek Jeter was also in the house tonight.