Score: 94-73 Bobcats
Bobcats Record: 20-31
Meritorious Player: Emeka Okafor, with 19 points on 14 attempts, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal. As good as the defense was overall, it was better with Emeka out there, with a defensive efficiency of 78.9.
The Bobcats got out to a fast start, sputtered for a couple of quarters, and then turned it back on in the fourth to pull away. The fourth quarter surge consisted of scores on 7 of 8 possessions, and turned a 67-63 game into an 83-65 not-much-of-a-contest. The newest Bobcat, Vladimir Radmanovic, matched the team, starting slowly, but heating up, as he hit two big threes during that run, and finished the game 13 points on 10 attempts (going 3 of 5 from deep).
Aside from the first half of the first quarter and the fourth – it was not a great game to watch. Ugly basketball – 21 turnovers combined for the two teams in the first half, but only 9 points of those turnovers. Yes, the teams managed to combine for an offensive efficiency of less than 50 on turnovers. I told you it was ugly. There were 4 airballs that I can remember off-hand: Baron Davis from the top of the key, Diop on a free throw, Vlad on a 3 from the right wing, and Emeka on a turnaround in the lane. More (kind of ugliness) – Sean May saw action last night…that was not the ugliness. The overall crowd reaction was a solid cheer for Sean, but once play started…one fan got on Sean a bit. “Hey Sean May – Jump” “It's called basketball” and “I've got ice cream for you!” Nothing horrible, I know – but I know most fans were glad to see Sean back on the court and this was against that sentiment. To each his own.
The Bobcats defense should get a lot of credit for this win – an 83.9 is very good. But I am hesitant to give all the credit to the Bobcats. In the first half, Los Angeles had 18 field goals made, and 14 assists. They finished the game with 30 makes and 20 assists. The Clippers played a different game in the second half, and it was not about creating easy shots for teammates. Kevin Arnovitz details their struggles a bit more over at ClipperBlog, in his recap of the game.
Final note: The Bobcats went sort of big to start the game, with Diop, Emeka, and Boris filling out the front line. While only sort of big? Because they went small in the back, with Ray and D.J. side by side. While it was not a spectacular debut (at least as a starting unit), they held their own, “winning” against the Clips 35-31 on their 34 possessions played together. My favorite number for the group? 11 assists on their 14 made field goals. Diaw and Ray both had a solid night creating, but Diop got into the action, just as he did against Miami, finding a cutter under the rim for a layup. While the offense is still prone to dry spells – the continued improvement on creating for teammates is a solid reason to expect better going forward.