(Courtesy NBAE / Getty Images)
· Game Breakdown
The start of the 2014 season for the Bobcats had been going very well: the team was off to its best start in franchise history, Kemba has been steadily improving under our small-market microscope, and the team had been putting up some awesome numbers defensively. Then a game like last night happens.
What “last night” was, was a game where the Cats struggled to put the ball in the basket in the second half, Cody Zeller went 0-6 from the field, and Jared Dudley went off for 20 points shooting 70% from the field.
And it’s not like the Cats were completely outplayed all night. They did a great job in the first half limiting the Clippers to only 4 made three-pointers in the first half. By taking away LA’s ability to stretch the floor, the Bobcats were able to collect rebounds and run their offense without too many hiccups, and by the end of the 1st the Cats took a 27-25 lead.
Looking to build on their first quarter success, the Cats looked to feed Al Jefferson the ball throughout the 2nd quarter. Al responded by going 2-3 from the field that quarter, drawing double teams from the likes of the Clippers. This extra attention on Al in the paint began freeing up more Bobcats as planned, and the Cats were still able to hang with the Clippers by the end of the 1st half, tying the game at 56 before heading to the locker room for halftime.
Then the second half started.
I wish I could say that the team remained confident in themselves on defense throughout the half, and that they continued to chase every Clipper off the 3pt line for the rest of the night. Or that the offense reached some wicked state of flow where everybody was definitely in their zone. But that’s definitely not what happened.
Instead, we got a second half where the Cats only managed to score a total of 29 points over the last 24 minutes of the game. The second half (especially the 3rd quarter) was filled with just some terrible, terrible shooting. How terrible exactly? Try 4-17 from the field in the 3rd, and 5-18 shooting in the 4th. Yikes. This stretch of cold shooting can be partially credited to the Cat’s complete lack of a perimeter scorer, as the Cats would only manage to hit 3 three-pointers throughout the second half. While Al Jefferson is able to command respect on the low block, and Kemba is able to keep defenses on its toes, this team is in drastic need of just one more player to stretch the defense, which would really give the Cats enough firepower to confidently and more smoothly run offensive possessions.
Needless to say, the second half was certainly not one that will be remembered fondly by Charlotte faithful for years to come. I’d even go as far to say that it was one of the worst halves of basketball the Bobcats played all season, as they gave up many open Jared Dudley 3s.
Until this team is able to find a way to stretch the floor, and the defense continues to go through many mental lapses tonight like it has over the last 3 or so games, this Bobcats team will continue to have struggles with teams as explosive as the Clippers. This Clipper team was able to keep the Cats defense on its toes at all times tonight, and when the Cats offense began sputtering, there was just no coming back for them. After giving the Clippers an easy 7-0 run to start the 3rd quarter, the Cats never really could get much of a hold on game. Their offense completely went stagnant in the quarter, and the rest is history.
The Cats fall to 14-19 on the season, good for 6th place in the East at the moment. Charlotte must turn it around against league-wide surprise Portland Thursday night in a game that will really test their defensive principles. West coast trips are never easy, and every year, these games really show just how much fight the team has in itself. I hope we see more fight in them against Portland, because they kind of just crawled up and died tonight against LA.
· Stat of the Night
Throughout the entire second half, no single Bobcat made more than 2 FGs…at all. That’s how sloppily played the second half was for Charlotte. It’s one thing when a few players struggle from the field on their own, but when the team is a combined 9-37 (compared to LA’s combined 24-54 FG in the second half) from the field in the second half of a game; things are really bad.
· Player of the Night
Anthony Toliver - 11pts off 4-11 FG %, and 3-10 from the 3pt line. He also had 1 assist and 3 rebounds, giving Charlotte a very well-rounded effort on a night where effort was hard to come by.