This is the type of game that will really be frustrating as this season progresses for the Bobcats. You know games like the one against the Heat are going to happen. But this was a very winnable game for Charlotte against a very beatable team, and the Bobcats simple don’t know how to get that done it doesn’t appear. The Cavs rained down threes on Charlotte, but really this game was there for the taking and Cleveland took it. No one expects Charlotte to win every one of these games, but fans do need to see some step forward from last year to have a little optimism.
The Bobcats still lack a go-to guy and overall team leader. I know some hope that Kemba Walker will eventually be that guy, or at least get the chance this year. But until he or someone else assumes that role we may be in for more games like this.
First quarter: The Bobcats played as well as they have in two games for the first six minutes of the first quarter. D.J. Augustin shook off a 1-11 night against Miami on Sunday and hit his first four shots. Corey Maggette came out aggressive as well looking to forget the Miami game and had eight early points..
The ball movement was MUCH better against the Cavs early on and as noted by Dell Curry in the No Sh!t Comment of The Night, the Bobcats match up better against this Cleveland team than against any of the other opponents so far this season (Milwaukee, Miami and Orlando.)
The Bobcats however continued to depend on the outside shot for most of the first quarter and perhaps the lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end bled over to defense. The Cavs starting getting more open shots and closer ones going on an 8-0 run to eventually take a 15-13 lead. The Bobcats only shot two free throws in the first quarter. Behind veteran Antawn Jamison (10 first quarter points), the Cavs were more effective getting inside. Top overall draft pick Kyrie Irving added seven points in the first.
D.J. White continued his hot streak hitting his first three shots to start the game but the Cavs stayed just as hot. Augustin chipped in with two first quarter three pointers as well and it really makes all the difference in the world when he’s hitting from the outside. Augustin was able to get into the lane towards the end of the quarter but the Cats just lack multiple players on that starting unit that beat defenders to the spot.
Augustin and White accounted for 22 of the first 26 Bobcats team points and were perfect in doing so. Even when Augustin missed his first shot White was there for the tip in…and then followed it up with a jumper the next time down. Augustin then finished off the quarter and a 10-0 run with steal and breakaway layup to put Charlotte up 7.
Second Quarter: The second quarter started out fast, rookie Bismack Biyombo made his first shot of the game and followed that up by erasing a Boobie Gibson shot attempt on the other end. But fellow rookie Kemba Walked couldn’t add to that, missing a pair of close range (although challenging) shots. The Cavs, behind their other lottery pick Tristan Thompson went to work and chopped the Charlotte lead down to two.
Biyombo wants to get every rebound, and that can get him in trouble now when he’s out of position and still fights for the board, picking up a foul. Watching Biyombo and Thompson go at each other was one of the more intriguing matchups in the game.
In this quarter Thompson got the best of the Charlotte rookie but he certainly had to work for it. The second unit for the Bobcats could not hold on to the first quarter lead and the Cavs went ahead at the 5:48 mark on a Jamison shot.
Much of the starting unit returned to the game to finish out the first half, continuing to shoot jump shots on offense and continuing to let the Cavs get in the lane and to the line on defense. Gerald Henderson did not snap out of a South Beach funk, front rimming another jumper and then throwing the ball away two possessions later.
The Bobcats had success going into big man Byron Mullens two consecutive times. Mullens hit a nice turnaround over Jamison and then used great position the next time down to receive the entry pass, shield Jamison and make a strong move to the hoop for an easy dunk. Amazing what getting the ball in deep can do.
Mullens nailed a face-up jumper the next time down to cut the Cavs lead to two, then another fader to tie it up at 49. Mullens continues to be a great addition to this team. When he’s hitting that jumper it does so much for this offense and right now he’s hitting it.
Henderson, on the other hand was not. Near the end of the second quarter Henderson took a shot from the right side that looked like confidence is starting to become an issue. I don’t like guessing what’s going on in a guy’s head, and certainly it’s nothing a few makes can’t change but he was struggling, which I’m sure is just as frustrating for him as anyone.
After scoring 34 in the first quarter the Bobcats hit a classic Bobcats second quarter lull, but still managed half that total to trail at the half 51-57.
Third quarter: All that Gerald Henderson worry? Forget it. Henderson came out in the third, got a bucket to go inside and then proceeded to nail three straight jumpers. That’s why I don’t like to predict what a guy is thinking or feeling, ok? Don’t make me do that again. Henderson was starting to feel good (dammit!), and so was every Cleveland player who touched the ball.
The Cavs shot of choice in this particular quarter was the three-point basket, everyone got in on the act capped by a Kyrie Irving rattler that gave him 20 points on the night and put Cleveland up 80-65.
Not to be outdone, Augustin nailed hit a triple from straight away and Henderson (who seriously looked a lot better, like a different person) stole the inbounds pass and dropped in his fifth consecutive shot to cut it the lead back to 10. If there was anything positive to come out of this quarter it was the play of Henderson.
The Bobcats made a great push to close this third quarter behind Mullens. This kid has to play. He and Henderson were the scoring punch for Charlotte down the stretch in the third, each finishing with 12 for the game at that point and the Bobcats down 7.
Fourth Quarter: A block party broke out in the final quarter of play with Mullens getting rejected on a dunk attempt by Thompson, racing the length of the floor and doing the same to Alonzo Gee. The Bobcats then had to burn a timeout when Maggette couldn’t find an open man on the inbounds pass.
From there, it wasn’t very pretty for Charlotte fans. The Cavs decided to go on and hit 10-21 threes and get a couple easy inside dunks.
The frustrating part of this game was how it really got away from the Bobcats, and the fact that Cleveland’s two rookies, Irving and Thompson, controlled the game. Irving only played 20 minutes but had 20 points on 6-8 shooting and 6 assists.
Thompson was a man down low, 16 points, 8 rebounds and two blocks. But he was much more aggressive and refused to be pushed around.
Irving and Thompson didn’t even play together for the most part.
There’s no consistency right now to what the Bobcats are doing. Once the floodgates opened they couldn’t really get consecutive stops to get back into it. Looking at the box score it’s that pesky second quarter (losing that quarter by 13) that sticks out, but the run the Cavs went on in the fourth quarter was the knockout punch.
Corey Maggette: Maggette did a great job getting to the line and cashing in when he did, hitting 13-14 free throws. The shots from the field were the issue as Maggette only made 4-12. He was more active (pulling down 8 rebounds as well) and did a much better job of attacking the rim, as evidenced by his 14 free throws. The shots he took for the most part were within the flow of the offense, such as it was. They just didn’t go in. Still, from Maggette it was good to at least get the last game out of his system
D.J. White: White was awful, he missed a shot. Sorry D.J., you’ve spoiled us now. But seriously folks White had another very effective game, going 5-6 from the field for 10 points and grabbing 7 boards. White gives you everything he has and you can’t be mad at that.
Boris Diaw: The second horrible game for Boris in a row. Foul trouble didn’t help matters tonight but neither did his shooting. Boris was 0-5 from the field, and did not attempt a free throw. It was a tough night but it makes you wonder how often we can expect to see the near-triple-double machine we saw during the first two games.
Gerald Henderson: As mentioned earlier one of the few bright spots tonight was the tough resurgence from Henderson. He was on his was to a nightmarish game before really battling back in the second half. He scored all 16 of his points in the second half and attacked from everywhere. His jumper returned and he attacked the basket when available. Honestly, I can’t even describe the mental state I’d be in had Henderson not returned to form in the second half… and I feel confident speaking for everyone else watching the game. That’s how bad it got as the game wore on.
D.J. Augustin: A really nice game for D.J. who was aggressive from the start. He desperately needs to get off to good starts, especially with this team and he did tonight. Augustin finished with 26 points and nine assists. He did have four turnovers to go along with a steal and a block. He and Kemba Walker played together tonight some more, but it was not a great night for Walker. D.J. attacked when he could, found the open man and hit shots when they were there. Can’t ask for much more when nothing else is going right. Of course, from your point guard you’d like to see him get more for other guys. That’s just not the way this team works right now.
Matt Carroll and DeSagna Diop: Neither one of these guys scored and they only played seven and eight minutes respectively.
Derrick Brown: Brown brought energy for his 12 minutes on the floor but only two points.
Kemba Walker: Of the four lottery picks in this game Walker played by far the worst…and a lot of that had to do with his shot not falling. He missed a couple close range shots he will usually finish and didn’t turn the ball over.
Byron Mullens: Mullens is going to have to play, I don’t see any way he can’t. For one, he can score. His jump shot is one of he more reliable on the team right now, and it doesn’t stop there. He can post up, play with his back to the basket and he finally showed some aggressiveness inside tonight and contributed some blocks and four rebounds.
Bismack Biyombo: I know I say this after every game but it’s true, you can see him improving each night. You can almost see him improving each half! Ok, I admit I picked him up on my fantasy team, and I also admit I dropped him. He’s not there yet but you get the feeling he’s soaking up this experience each trip up the court. When he learns to stay down, avoid some of the silly fouls on rebounds he’s really going to be something to deal with. And tell me you thought he would be even half this ready on offense…no way, no one did.
Cory Higgins: Higgins played in mop-up duty again tonight.