Kevin C. Cox
The Charlotte Bobcats got nailed with a flurry of threes in the second quarter and never could recover. After starting the season 7-5 the Bobcats have now lost 10 straight.
On the road, in the A, on the second night of a back-to-back is not the ideal scenario for a Bobcat team trying to break a nine-game losing streak. The Hawks are always a tough match for the Cats and tonight was no different. No streak was broken on this night as Atlanta used a barrage of second quarter three-pointers to bury Charlotte 113-90
The Bobcats held the Hawks to 30 in the first quarter. The fourth game in the last five where the Cats have allowed their opponent to score 30 points or more. Not a great trend if you want to have a shot at winning some games. Also Michael Kidd-Gilchrist picked up his second foul before he broke a sweat. Although, his second foul resulted from a Byron Mullens matador as Jeff Teague raced to the basket and MKG was left to take a swipe. Not a great foul anyway.
The Cats had a tough time getting any good looks. Charlotte made it pretty easy on the other end and the Hawks shot 61% from the field, and four of nine from three. They also had 12 points in the paint to Charlotte's...sigh...four, and seven assists to the Cats' two.
The Bobcats didn't give up any more than 30 in the second quarter so that was cool. They did give up exactly 30 again and let the Hawks score a combined, let's see....60, 60 points the first half. The differential in field goal percentage in the first half was ridiculous. The Hawks shot almost 60% from the field, 56% on three-point attempts (5-7 in the second quarter) but the Cats were able to limit them to just 50% from the free throw line.
In turn Charlotte made eyes bleed hitting 36% from the field, 27% on threes but did hit 12 of 13 free throws which "kept them in it", down 17 at the half.
There were no injuries. Bismack Biyombo and MKG both had three first half fouls.
The second half was really just an extended dribble-out-the-clock situation with a few threes and some fouls thrown in. The Bobcats made a small, small, push to cut into the lead and got it down to 17. But that was as close as it would get tonight. The second quarter flurry of threes seemed to dictate the rest of this game and the Bobcats didn't have enough energy to break through and make this one interesting.
Kemba Walker has been almost forcing some of these inside shots lately and not getting the calls, or the rolls, he was getting early on in the season. It's not overly concerning though, and hopefully something he'll just have to play through. Walker has been pretty outstanding this year and I'm ok with him taking things on himself to a certain extent. However 6-15 from the field and 0-5 from three (13 points) is not something he needs to get used to.
This was a fairly uninspired performance from the Bobcats tonight. Mike Dunlap has been extremely patient and encouraging during this nine, now 10, game losing streak and he probably will continue to be. But with each loss that patience has to run thin just a little.
As much as this team has improved it is still young and relatively inexperienced so it's tough for them to compete against talented and/or deep teams. And they're really getting killed without a legit presence down low. Brendan Haywood is a veteran NBA player but he and DeSagana Diop are...not the answer.
Way too many times tonight you'd see Jeff Taylor or Ramon Sessions or some other undersized Bobcat having to hack Al Horford of Ivan Johnson to keep them from scoring. Those situations just don't lend themselves to winning basketball but there's not much Charlotte can do about that right now.
Biyombo is playing so much better, with still a long way to, and it's certainly exciting to see his progress. He had just four points on 2-3 shooting tonight but was active again.
The Bobcats need to regroup and rest up for a home date with Orlando on Saturday night. That's a game that would be a good win, and breaking this losing streak is becoming paramount. After that it's a four game west coast swing, which means late games! Charlotte's schedule got much more difficult after it's early 7-5 start, so a regression to the mean was to be expected.
- MKG was as visibly frustrated tonight as I've seen him. That shouldn't be surprising and it's not necessarily a bad thing. He's working hard, and experiencing some rookie stuff on most nights. But his most notable play tonight had little to do with basketball. After stepping out of bounds trying to save a loose ball he slapped the scorer's table in frustration, surprising the spectators sitting there. On his way back down court he turned to apologize.
- Byron Mullens, for one of the few times this year, completely disappeared. It was normal last year for Mullens to fade if he wasn't having success offensively. He has been doing a better job of staying engaged this year but tonight was a blast from the past. Mullens hit a loan three-pointer from the field, was 1-8 overall, had ONE foul (and tonight that indicated just not being involved on D at all) and just two rebounds. So far these games have been the minority this year so hopefully he plays through.
- MKG and Biyombo led the team with six rebounds each. No one else had more than three. Somehow the Bobcats were only outrebounded by 10.
- Gerald Henderson led Charlotte off the bench with 17. You have to wonder how close Dunlap is to putting Henderson back into the starting lineup. It's tough I know, Taylor had 12 of his own points tonight, but maybe that's the jumpstart this team needs.
- Sessions had a nice game tonight and had some success scoring, a welcome sight. He was 5-8 from the field and 2-3 from beyond the arc. Having Sessions return to form would be a step in the right direction.
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