Score: 98-93 Pacers
Bobcats Record: 18-26 (2.5 games out of 8th)
Meritorious Player: Juwan Howard? Gana Diop? Yeah, it was that kind of game.
A slightly below average offensive performance combined with a slightly below average defensive performance only gets you a victory if you are Cleveland or the Lakers; it does not work when your average performance is, well, average. That is what the Bobcats have been lately (maybe slightly better than that) and that is what the Pacers are – and the Bobcats ascension to slightly better than average stalled last night in Indiana.
The Cats shot decently from the field…as long as it was from inside the 3-point line: 27-55 on 2s, just 7-23 on 3s. They also struggled with their unguarded shots, going just 18-30 from the free throw line (Emeka – please put in extra time at free-throw school this week, 4 of 11 is really not helpful). Also of note offensively: The bench contributed a bit, with 24 points on just 17 shots. The two high scorers off the bench? Gana Diop, with 8 (4 of 5 shooting) and Juwan Howard, who had 6 on 2 of 4, plus 2 of 2 at the stripe. On a night when none of the starters were really feeling it (no 20 point scorers, only Emeka shooting better than 50% from the floor), it would have helped for someone on the bench to provide just a bit more scoring punch (please be ready to play Friday, D.J. – the team needs you).
Lately, this offensive effort would have been enough to get the Bobcats the win. But the defense wasn't there last night – or at least the defensive rebounding was not. Indiana secured 19 offensive rebounds, with Charlotte only managing 27 defensive: Allowing an offensive rebound rate of 41% is less than stellar. Jeff Foster had a single double on the night – 13 rebounds, 7 points…but 10 of those rebounds were offensive. Emeka – you got beat down by Jeff Foster – that is not the way to earn an All-Star nod from the Eastern Conference coaches. The other main contributor: Marquis Daniels, with 5 in just 22 minutes. Gerald – ditto what I said to Emeka.
Was the team still riding high from the Suns game, thinking Indiana was a cakewalk? I hope not – but the effort level was lacking so I have to wonder. The team needs to remember – there are still 4 teams they need to pass to make the playoffs – and this Indiana team is right on their heels.