Despite holding an eight-point with only two minutes remaining, the Bobcats failed to achieve victory on Saturday night, and eventually lost their 43rd game of the season in overtime. Despite strong performances from Byron Mullens and Reggie Williams, the late efforts of Brandon Knight and Jonas Jerebko proved too much for the Bobcats to defeat. In short, despite both teams missing integral rotational players, they played hard. It was an effort Rasheed Wallace would have been proud of, though I doubt he's seeking out lottery team-matchups to view during his retirement. More thoughts on the game after the jump.
It's always interesting when two teams destined for early-lottery picks face off late in the season. Both teams' fan bases are bound to have abandoned all hopes of playoff competition, and now must look for signs of future hope in every team performance. Add in the fact that many fans are likely rooting for their teams to lose and thus increase the team's chances of earning a higher draft pick, and motivations become impressively mixed. I don't begrudge rooting for a terrible team to lose with that thought in mind, but it's certainly not an enviable position. It's logical, but as a fan, it can feel unnatural. But despite whatever understandable fan mixed emotions exist, both the Pistons and Bobcats appeared focused on achieving a win on Saturday night, meaningful or not.
After a close first half, the Bobcats came out strong in the third quarter, and played some of their best basketball in weeks (of course, that's easier to do against a team like the Pistons). D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker moved the ball terrifically, combining for 17 assists and only four turnovers. Behind Walker and Augustin's strong ball movement, the Bobcats' offense kickstarted in the third quarter, Byron Mullens (and so did Tyrus Thomas!) made jumpers, and the Bobcats carried a lead late into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats failed to hinder Brandon Knight on two late threes or inhibit Will Bynum's tying drive, and a missed Gerald Henderson shot sent the game into overtime. The Bobcats made their own valiant comeback effort with a few seconds remaining, but the last-second attempts of Byron Mullens and Reggie Williams failed to find the basket as time expired. Another loss for the Bobcats, albeit a close one, and so the 2011-2012 NBA season continues.
In more positive news, Anthony Davis played a brilliant Final Four game today. That 25% chance at the first pick doesn't inspire full-fledged optimism, but watching Davis today, it's hard not to think the Bobcats' fortunes could be altered significantly by his presence. And if that doesn't work out, hypothetically selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (or any top 5 talent in this draft) won't be a terrible disappointment.
- This was one of the best games the Bobcats' bench (52% FG, good AST-TO ratio, etc.) has played all season.
- Tyrus Thomas has been playing better lately. In 2010, 10 points (5-9 FG) and four rebounds would have been a less than impressive effort from Thomas. Now, it's more than welcome and sadly, surprising. Given how long the Bobcats' will hold the contract of Thomas, it'd be nice to see him return to form.
- A solid scoring effort from Bismack Biyombo (10 points, 5-9 FG) was quelled by an oddly lacking two-rebound effort.
- Matt Carroll played acceptably in 11 minutes of court time!
- If the Pistons hadn't given inadvisable contracts to Charlie Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Gordon, they'd be in terrific position going forward. Still, a core of Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko, and Greg Monroe is encouraging.
- Kemba Walker seems to have improved as a passer. Walker still doesn't score efficiently, but he's becoming a decent distributor.
- Stephen Silas coached this game for the Bobcats, and by all appearances, did an astute job.
- The Bobcats play the Raptors next game. The Raptors are essentially the only team I remember the Bobcats beating this season, so another loss isn't a certainty.