Imagine this season with a healthy Jeff Taylor. Kemba & JT, get well soon!
(Courtesy Jeff Siner - Charlotte Observer)
The Bobcats came into Monday's matinee game versus the Toronto Raptors without team leader Kemba Walker. It was Martin Luther King Day around the NBA as teams across the league would honor Mr.King. The Bobcats were looking for the season sweep of the Atlantic division leading Toronto Raptors with a win on Monday. Could the Bobcats get it done without cardiac Kemba? Let’s get into it.
The 1st quarter was more than an ideal start for the team as Al Jefferson dominated the Raptors in the paint and on the glass with 10 points and 10 rebounds. They had no answer for him and he became the 1st player in the NBA this year to get a double-double in a quarter. Jannero Pargo also got going with 8 early points off the bench in his first series of extended minutes this season. Pargo's early perimeter shooting and aggression helped the Bobcats smack the Raptors 26-11 in the first quarter. The team set a personal best this season holding Toronto to 11 points in a quarter (fewest points allowed in a quarter this season).
After a flawless first quarter the game slowed down and was a bit more even as the Bobcats won the 2nd quarter 29-25. Demar Derozan got to his spots and led the charge for the Raptors with 9 points. Charlotte hit three 3-pointers in the quarter which gave them confidence heading into the 2nd half. The Bobcats took a 55-36 lead into halftime.
The Raptors would win the 3rd quarter by a score of 24-23 as they closed it out with an 11-3 run. They were down by 30 at one point but you could feel the momentum slowly but surely shifting in their favor.
The 4th quarter was pretty eventful as the Raptors stormed back from a 30-point deficit to cut the lead all the way down to 1. Kyle Lowry missed what would have been the game tying free throw and the Bobcats would close it out from there as they won by a score of 100-95.
Win #18 didn't come easy at all for the Bobcats and coming down the stretch the Cats were clearly hurt by Kemba Walker not being on the floor. Scoring isn't going to come easy for the Cats but if Big Al can set the tone and play similar to how he did today then he would help out a lot. Also the Bobcats made an uncharacteristic 9 three-pointers thanks to Jannero Pargo, Josh McRoberts and Anthony Tolliver. Ramon Sessions also did a fantastic job stepping in for Kemba as he poured in a season high 23 points. Ramon had done something similar to this in Cleveland a few years ago when Kyrie Irving was injured and kept them in the playoff hunt. So if he does the same thing in Charlotte, it would be huge for the Bobcats playoff chances.
Points won't be easy to come by but if the Bobcats can stay together they can still make the playoffs