Maybe take some notes on rotations and what is working, and rock out less...
The Bobcats’ youth movement put on a display last night that gives fans hope for the future. But that display did not translate into a win for the struggling Cats. They just didn’t have enough to get over the hump, suffering a 100-92 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia 76ers, who are vying for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the Cats with 21 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field and nine rebounds. Although this was one of his best performances of his rookie campaign, he went quiet in crunch time, netting his last point with 6:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Prior to his cold spell, he sliced and diced the 76ers’ defense getting to the rim with ease. Gerald Henderson added 19, and Kemba Walker scored 16 in the losing effort.
What plagued the Cats tonight – and for much of the season – was coach Mike Dunlap’s struggles to find a rotation that works. After the Cats jumped out to a 31-22 advantage at the end of the first quarter, Dunlap benched Walker and Henderson maybe so they could rest?
With two of the team’s top scorers sitting on the bench, the 76ers took advantage, outscoring the Cats by 12 in the second quarter. They took a 49-46 advantage heading into the half.
Dunlap limited his rotation to eight players with Reggie Williams, Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop assuming their almost permanent places on the bench. Rookie Jeffery Taylor, who typically sees playing time, also did not see any action. Ben Gordon played 15 minutes, but left the contest in the fourth quarter after slipping on the court and sustaining an injury.
Down the stretch, Walker did his best to keep the Cats in the game, netting eight of his points in the fourth. But the combination of Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes proved too great to overcome.
Hawes scored 22 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists. Beyond his contributions in the box score, Hawes’ screens above the key disrupted the Cats’ defense leading to numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Besides Dunlap’s struggles to play his young guns without hurting the team, the Cats also struggled from the charity stripe only making 14 of their 23 attempts - a paltry 60.9 percent.
With a team that lacks talent to compete with many of the NBA’s teams, the Cats have to play almost perfect basketball. They must execute in every facet of the game. Last night, free throw shooting proved to be one of the keys that kept them from notching the victory.
The Cats will play the 76ers on Wednesday at Time Warner Arena, an opportunity to avenge the loss.