Honestly, against a strong Western conference contender like the Grizzlies tonight, I'm not sure what Bobcats fans should have expected. I hoped for a competitive game and got that for a fair amount tonight. Unfortunately, Memphis pulled away late.
The first quarter was probably what most Bobcats fans and NBA aficionados expected. There were solid moments from each team, though the Grizzlies ultimately out-shined Charlotte. Memphis found good shot selection off strong, crisp ball movement as the Bobcats had a bit of trouble. Charlotte had to improvise a bit, as they often have to do, but the luck of the draw often forces the hand as such. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist put in some offensive rebounds and Kemba hit a couple nice jumpers but the transition defense struggles a tad. Despite a few impressive contested Gerald Henderson jump shots, Memphis had some nice shots created out of transition and with drawing contact, which allowed them to create a nice lead that lasted pretty much the whole game.
The second quarter was much of the same, but the third quarter instilled some false hope for Bobcats fans - at least if any other Bobcats fans are like me. The defense ratcheted their intensity up a bit, forcing the Grizzlies into worse shots, turnovers and all around worse possessions. Charlotte was able to push the ball a bit with Kemba, but they really got very little else from the rest of the team. All told, only two other players besides Walker reached double-digits in points: Gerald Henderson (13 points on 16 shots) and Jannero Pargo (10 points on 9 shots). It was a tough game all around. Ball movement couldn't find the space to create the offensive flow necessary to foster the runs needed to offset Memphis' fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats couldn't build upon their third quarter and the Grizzlies separated themselves with each successive minute from the struggling Bobcats. Memphis pushed the ball better up the floor, found the inside player easier and hit shots with much more ease than Charlotte did. The Bobcats couldn't find many feasible passing lanes or get up many uncontested shots and the result showed as much.
Memphis won handily 94-75 after a 31-18 fourth quarter in which they simply found much more efficient shots on offense with better depth. Frankly, this is what happens with teams that are tough great defensive fundamentals from the top down. Like Miami last week, Memphis' rotations stymied the Bobcats from the starters down to the bench squad. Well-taught teams retain such strong fundamentals and it's shown in the past few games against top defensive teams.