These things happen. The Bobcats lost to the Hawks in Atlanta, 103-89, and the game was hardly ever in question. Sure, there was a brief period late in the first half when it looked like the Cats might make a run and eventually knock off the home team, but those hopes were stifled in the third quarter, when Charlotte was outscored by 14. Then the Cats sort of kind of made a late-fourth run before the Hawks revved the engine again and took care of business.
We can talk all we want about the Cats' defensive shortcomings on this particular night, but the story I'm sure is most pressing to many of you is Raymond Felton's injury situation. Felton left the game near the end of the first quarter with a nasty-looking ankle turn. After writhing on the floor for a while, he was helped to the locker room. Though he would eventually make his way back to the bench, he did not play the rest of the night, and I imagine there's a very good chance he will not play tomorrow night at home against the Orlando Magic.
The solution to the problem of an absent Felton is to play D.J. Augustin at point guard, which is hardly a controversial opinion. However, I suspect we'll have a battle of ideas over how many minutes he should get at PG, since Larry Brown will likely be tempted to give minutes to Ronald Murray at the point, and we don't know how long Felton will be out, if at all.
Felton's dramatic improvement this season has been a welcome surprise, but it hardly kills the Cats' season to lose him for an extended period, not nearly like losing Gerald Wallace would. Augustin can do more on offense than Felton can, but Felton is the far better defender and has reinvented himself as a less-is-more court general on offense. It's not likely D.J. will match Felton's production, but 1) he's perfectly capable of matching or exceeding that production, 2) especially if the Cats shift the burden of creating offense to Jax and Diaw, like both those guys want, letting D.J. bring the ball up the floor, create a little, and be essentially a shooting guard the rest of the time, and 3) Augustin will almost certainly benefit personally and, thus, provide a long term benefit to the team from an extended run at point guard.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD QUOTES (Still trying to figure out the best way to highlight the best of what readers bring to the table...)
Ourdaywillcome: "At no time did Charlotte lose their cool. They played the entire [first] half like it was all part of their plan. No shakiness, no breakdowns and turnovers. They’re playing with some major maturity."
PanthersFTW: "Apparently Josh Smith's presence alone makes teams miss dunks."
Stevarino: "How is it possible that Diaw has played almost 35 minutes and he has the same number of points that I have?"
MR. MANN: "damn... i thought we were gonna win out the rest of the season"
-- The Hawks shot over 50% from the field. Surprisingly, ATL wasn't that good from three, under 30% (and that's with Jamal Crawford's unconscious 5-8 from three), but they made up for it with their inside scoring and only 12 turnovers for the game, compared to 17 for the Bobcats.
-- Stevarino got it right: Boris simply couldn't score tonight. I mean, he even missed a dunk! Zero points is a sorry showing, even if it's accompanied by 5 assists.
-- Seriously, Gerald Henderson only got 3 and a half minutes?
-- Gerald Wallace is still The Man. 25 points on 12 attempts is the kind of thing that happens when you get 13 free throw attempts, and he tied for the team lead with 6 boards. All. Star. Game.
-- Flip Murray had an excellent game as a creator, though I doubt this is the kind of thing he can repeat regularly, should Felton be out for a while. He scored 11 points on 9 attempts, but also dished 9 assists.
-- Man, I love me some Derrick Brown. He only got 12 minutes this time around, but the guy is proving again and again that he deserves to play and would have deserved to play even if VladRad were still around. He's the total package of defense and offense, and at absolute worst, he'll be a rotation player for years.