When I look at the Sixers, I a slightly better, slightly more mature Bobcats team. Both go as far as their back court takes them, both have some promising talented young wings and both deal with some serviceable big men manning the post. The Sixers have just been refining this particular product a bit longer and tonight we've seen the results.
This game was your standard 2012-2013 loss - hang around all game, maybe even stealing a lead, but the more experienced and talented team finds a way to make a couple plays down the stretch and snatch victory away. Tonight that role was filled by Jason Richardson, who banged home a couple 3's late to keep the Sixers ahead. Never getting behind by more than 6 before Richardson hit a couple of daggers, the Bobcats gave us yet another entertaining game.
Though it was a loss, there were some good things to glean:
1) Bismack Biyombo has has been improving. There is absolutely no doubt about this. Biz tied his career high in scoring (14), pulled down 7 rebounds, notched a few blocks (3) and was a definite factor down the stretch. He got the ball in the post (on purpose) a few times and went to his lefty hook, which is gaining reliability. Additionally, late in the first half, the 76ers scored a significant number of interior baskets, but Biz helped shut things off down low in the second half. Much as it was in Atlanta, it was Bismack logging minutes down the stretch while Haywood stayed on the bench.
2) Consistency: the Bobcats never had any of the extended stretches of offensive ineptitude which have plagued them this year. Even late in the first half when they couldn't buy a basket, Byron Mullens made it to the free throw line off post up attempts.
3) Balanced Play: Nobody played huge minutes and everybody scored. We've seen a single player carry the Bobcats during games this year, but tonight 8 of the 9 players who logged minutes scored 8 or more.
4) Shooting: Philadelphia is a good defensive team. They only give up .425 shooting and 93.7 points per game. The Bobcats shot 47% from the field (significantly higher than normal) and 47.1 from 3. One place they could afford some improvement was the free throw line, where they only shot 66.7%, but a lot of this can be attributed to Bismack going 4 for 8 (which is actually a good development).
As always there were things to be concerned about:
1) Opponents Shooting: You're not going to win too many games when you allow your opponent to hit over half their shots (51.2%)
2) Turnovers: The Bobcats struggle in the half court offense, so scoring off turnovers is an absolute must. Unfortunately, they only turned over Philly 10 times.
That's about it. The Bobcats played a nice game, their young guys looked good, and they gave us a reason to watch the whole thing. Better than last year.
One thing they did to send the fans home happy was run a free ticket promotion if a Bobcats player hit a 3 in the 4th quarter. This looked dead until Kemba drained a meaningless 3 from the right corner with 1 second left in the game. Hopefully these fans will show up Monday.
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