Score: 96-92 Heat
Bobcats Record: 19-31
Meritorious Player: D.J. Augustin – 27 points on 19 attempts, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal (plus 2 turnovers).
With two of the Bobcats defenders missing the game (Crash and Raja), is it any surprise to see Charlotte struggle on defense? Their offensive execution was solid, and the production even better, as a 110.8 efficiency attests. But the defense: They could not get a stop down the stretch when it counted and trading baskets does not work when you are behind. 5 games without Gerald – 5 losses. The All-Star break can not arrive soon enough.
A couple of keys to the game: 13 turnovers for the Bobcats – only 8 for Miami. Not a bad effort for Charlotte of protecting the ball, but only 8 turnovers forced – not so much. For the season, the Bobcats are 6th in the league, forcing turnovers on 16.3% of opponent possessions – and while their field goal percentage defensive numbers are improved (14th), it is the turnovers that have helped the team improve to a very solid defensive unit. Again – it goes back to Gerald and Raja being out, as the Bobcats are missing about 2.5 steals per game from their arsenal. That is another key I wanted to mention – the steals – 7-3 edge for Miami.
Final note: The Bobcats are becoming an assisting force. 26 assists last night, on just 38 made field goals. For the season, the Bobcats have assisted on 60.8% of their makes, 4th in the league for the season. Even better: Since the trade for Diaw, that number is up to 65% and the best mark in the league over the time frame. Even the most recent of newcomers is getting into the act, as Diop found Boris diving under the rim for an easy score.
For the time being, it seems the Bobcats are going to have to outscore their opponents to win games. I am sure Larry Brown is thrilled, but when you are missing two of your best defenders, you have to make sacrifices. Tonight, we may get to see how much Vlad can contribute towards that goal. Should be interesting.