Boxscore of Bobcats vs Celtics – 12/01/2009
Score: 108-90 Boston Celtics
Charlotte Bobcats Record: 7-10
Offensive Efficiency: 103.4
Defensive Efficiency: 121.3
Meritorious Player: Raymond Felton 14 points, 6-13 FGs, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover
“It looked like the Varsity and the JV,” that's how Larry Brown summed up the Charlotte Bobcats 18 point loss to Boston Tuesday. Brown questioned his team's effort from the first few minutes of the game when he called a timeout one minute and 47 seconds in because he was concerned about the team's effort.
“We wrote on the board (before the game), we've got to match their energy, we can't let them get off early, and we can't let them punk us. And all three things, the first two minutes of the game they did,” according to Brown.
This was an old fashioned beating by Boston and Charlotte never really looked like they had a chance. Prior to a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter the Bobcats had not strung together more than two consecutive buckets. When you think about it that's astonishing, basketball is a game of runs but on this night there were really no runs for the Bobcats.
This of course comes back to defense. For the first time this season the Bobcats didn't look like a good defensive team, even Larry said he thought the team competed more in the first Boston massacre that started the season, you know the 33 point shellacking in the Garden. At least in that game the Bobcat defense didn't allow 62 points in the first half and 54 percent shooting from the field for the game. But before talk about the Charlotte defense or in this case the lack thereof here's a few other takeaways from the loss.
First, Boston is just a tough matchup for this season's Bobcats. Kevin Garnett is as tough a cover as there is for Boris Diaw. Diaw is able to body guys out of the post to limit their effectiveness but that doesn't work as well with KG, who likes it in the high post and has the length to just shoot over the top of most of Charlotte's frontcourt, ditto for Rasheed Wallace. Meanwhile Kendrick Perkins is the type of physical center that can give Tyson Chandler fits and is just too big and strong for Diaw as well. It was clear early on that Boston's length was going to be a problem for Charlotte on both ends. They were able to shoot over the top of the Bobcats on offense and make passes and shots much more difficult on defense.
That being said let's get to my second point which is the officials didn't do the home team any favors. There was plenty of inconsistency and just some flat out missed calls, in the first half especially, and that did seem to sap some of Charlotte's energy at times. Even though Derek Richardson, Mark Wunderlich, and Matt Boland didn't have a good night that's not why Charlotte lost.
The Bobcats were clearly outplayed, but the two early fouls on Gerald Wallace does bring me to my third takeaway from Tuesday night and that's Larry Brown's conservative strategy when it comes to fouls. Gerald Wallace played a little more than five minutes in the first half leaving with the Bobcats down seven and didn't return until the third quarter when the hole was 23. He was frustrated about it as well, “It kind of pissed me off a little bit because I thought I was going in maybe the six or seven minute mark of the second quarter and when I didn't go back it basically looked like we weren't competing, we weren't fighting.”
Wallace embodies everything that the Charlotte Bobcats need to get the most out of this season. He attacks the basket, he defends and he rebounds and when you have a limited offensive team that plays good-to-great defense you have to put out maximum effort to stay competitive because your offense won't keep you in games. At the six minute mark of the first half it was bad but still salvageable, however instead of putting the best effort guy on the team back in a game that, you know lacked effort, Brown fouled out his own player and closed the door on any chance Charlotte had to make it more interesting. This may be something he can do with Tyson Chandler or even Raymond Felton but with the way Gerald Wallace has been playing he's just too important to this team to sit for that long in a game that was getting away from Charlotte fast.
But in the end it was the rare night this season that the Bobcat defense failed them as they took on a team that quite frankly just looked better. That's the ugly truth of this season's Charlotte Bobcats, despite the Stephen Jackson trade and the fact it has improved the offense, if this team isn't defending like mad their offense isn't good enough to keep them in games against elite teams. Yes, even on their own home floor.