I'm not entirely sure what to say after a game like that.
The game started with the Bobcats giving up 33 points to the least efficient offense in the league while they managed to only squeak out 17 points with 24 percent field goal shooting. The game ended with the Bobcats nearly giving up a game-tying three at the buzzer, only saved by the few inches separating Khris Middleton's feet from an extra, tying point.
So the Bobcats won by one point against the worst team in the league at home. It's ugly on the surface and pretty ugly if you delve into it, but it's still not a win without some nuance to explain it.
I can't just skim over the first quarter. It was bad. My first quarter game notes were initially just a single swear word. The offense was a disaster. Cody Zeller's two jumpers were the only ones to find the net from outside the paint. The Bobcats didn't find good penetration, frustrated by the Bucks' agility and length. Kemba Walker was especially frustrated and argued about no-calls he felt were incorrect, which led to a technical in the first quarter. It's well worth noting that John Henson was a bit of a terror for the Bobcats because of his lanky arms. They got in passing lanes and forced turnovers and deflected a bunch of shots, and changed some attempts too.
To a lesser degree (which isn't saying much, given how abysmal the offense played), the defense was bad, too. They fouled a lot and didn't force the Bucks into stagnant ball movement or cause turnovers. The Bucks had a single turnover, assists on 10 of their 11 first quarter field goals and 10 shots at the free throw line. Charlotte also couldn't get any offensive rebounding going. On first blush, the Bucks only beat the Bobcats by one offensive rebound in the first quarter but given how many chances the Bobcats had for offensive rebounds because of their bazillions of misses, the Bucks shut them down with ease.
Thankfully, the second quarter went much better. The Bobcats climbed out of the 18-point hole with 4-for-4 shooting from behind the arc, as well as Jefferson improving upon his 4-for-8 first quarter. After scoring eight points on eight shots in the first, he had seven points on five shots to improve his efficiency. Matched up with the likes of Miroslav Raduljica and John Henson, Jefferson had a favorable matchup for most of the night.
The Bobcats also got some help from moderate bench production. Sessions led the way after a scoreless first quarter with eight point in the quarter, including four free throws. Zeller was a bit of a mixed bag: some midrange jumpers (which might be getting a bit better, no?), a blocked shot, and then an offensive rebound followed by an assist to a cutting Bismack Biyombo. Speaking of Biyombo, he had a rough night. He was blocked twice in a minute or two due to Henson's crazy arms and I think had his shots blocked three times over the course of the entire game.
Improved defensive play also played a key role in the second quarter. The Bobcats only allowed two free throw attempts in the quarter and forced five turnovers. At the half, Charlotte was only down two points.
The third and fourth quarters were nowhere near as separated in style like the first and second quarters. There were some small runs here and there but the biggest lead after halftime was five points.
The most important development was, without a doubt, Kemba Walker getting past his slow start. Walker had only four points in the first half and finished with 18 in regulation (25 total). He also had six assists in the second half, compared to three in the first (10 total). After being stymied for much of the first half, Walker found his three-point shot and got to the rim for a 4-for-6 shooting quarter for 10 points.
Not to be outdone, Jefferson also hit four shots, but didn't miss any. Surprisingly, all of these came from outside of the paint. Utilizing some pump fakes and space that the Bucks forwards gave him, he capitalized with some midrange jump shots and a leaning runner.
Still, the Bucks didn't just roll over. Giannis Antetokounmpo pretty much had a one-man scoring run with a three-pointer and a couple of dunks in a short period of time. And Brandon Knight had a rather good night getting into the lane against the Bobcats' interior defense. In this tough time to be a Bucks fan, between OJ Mayo threes and John Henson blocks, Antetokounmpo's tantalizing gifts have been what gets people through this season so far. He didn't disappoint tonight with 12 points on the night. He's still pretty green, but that's to be expected.
The Bobcats and Bucks traded threes for a little bit with Anthony Tolliver hitting everything and the Bucks battling back with Caron Butler and Brandon Knight treys. Going into the final period, it was all tied.
Not much of note happened in the fourth as both teams went back and forth. Gerald Henderson, who had a terrible scoring game, hit his first field goal of the night with 4:37 left in regulation.
With about a minute left and a five-point lead, the Bobcats seemed to just about have the game wrapped up. But they couldn't hit a dagger and the Bucks got a layup and then a couple free throws and it was a one-point lead. Kemba hit that midrange dagger from the right elbow we know so well and it seemed like that would put an end to those pesky Bucks.
Milwaukee had 16 seconds and no easy possession. They got the ball in but Khris Middleton's hurried contested three was off. The rebound went longer than expected and fell into O.J. Mayo's hands. He took a dribble to avoid Chris Douglas-Roberts and shot over Josh McRoberts, nailing the tough three and tying the game.
Charlotte still had a second left, however, and that couldn't be understated after Walker'd buzzer beater against Toronto. After a failed entry pass to Walker that was knocked out by Antetokounmpo, the Bobcats got a second inbounds pass to Jefferson with 0.7 seconds left who pump faked Henson into the air and drew contact but no foul was called and we went to overtime.
Brandon Knight hit the first shot of the extra period but the Bobcats began to find some consistent offensive flow. Led by Walker's slashing to the rim, Charlotte found a bit more space to maneuver with the ball and without it. They had more space to pass from the perimeter and with off-the-ball cuts, which created a great Henderson runner after a few Kemba buckets.
After exchanging a bunch of missed shots, the Bobcats went back to the free throw line after Milwaukee fouled Walker following a defensive rebound. He made both and Charlotte once again led by three, but there was only one second left.
After Bobcats play-by-play announcer Steve Martin said Kemba could end the game with a second free-throw, I don't think anyone felt particularly at ease with a three-point lead. So of course the Bucks ran some terrific screens on the inbounds play and got Khris Middleton open on the weak side in the corner.
The pass was great and there was room but Middleton didn't position himself behind the line and although he made the shot, it was only a two-pointer.
And so the Bobcats escaped at home by one point over the team with the worst record in the league.