Score: 112-102 Phoenix
Bobcats Record: 22-35
Meritorious Player: Boris Diaw – 27 points on 12 attempts, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal. Like the last game against the Suns, Boris had something to prove against his former employers, but despite his fantastic game, the outcome was reversed.
Good news: The Bobcats' offense got back on track, to a degree. The team shot nearly 47% from the floor, managed to create more for each other than their opponents (20 assists to 17 turnovers), and grabbed more offensive rebounds than the Suns (12 to 8). All that good work was partly undone by poor free throw shooting, as the Cats went just 18-27 from the charity stripe, with Emeka leading the way at 4 of 8. Had they made just a couple of more free throws during the game, it might have been interesting at the end (and at least would have given them a better offensive efficiency, in the range of 110).
So, free throw shooting was (continues to be) a problem – but I said “partly undone” – and the rest of their good offensive work was undone by their defense. It was not the defense we have come to expect from the Bobcats this season, as this was their 9th worst defensive efficiency allowed of the season (and 5th worst since the Diaw & Bell trade). Phoenix made their 2s – 31 of 57 for 54%. The Suns made their 3s – 9 of 19 for 47%. They made their free throws – 23 of 25 for 92% (even Shaq shot them well, at 6 of 7). While the free throws may be tough to be control, the rest of it? Tough to win a game when the other team has a TS% (true shooting) of 61.6% (the Bobcats 6th worst of the year).
The Bobcats (relatively) saving grace: Turnovers. The Suns were pretty charitable with the ball themselves, coughing it up 19 times, as they managed to only match their assists and turnovers. Steve Nash had a somewhat un-Nash performance with 6 turnovers to 5 assists, though he made up for it by scoring 22 on just 10 field goal attempts (4 of 6 on 2s, 4 of 4 on 3s, 2 of 2 at the line).
Final note: Weird possession of the game – The Suns scored 6 on a single possession. After a Felton turnover, he compounded the issue by being called for a clear path foul. After the resulting 2 makes at the free throw line, Suns in-bound and found Richardson posting Felton. J-Rich drives and is fouled by Diop as he makes the shot. 4 points so far on the possession. And then Larry Brown gets called for a technical. The Suns make the technical free throw, J-Rich hits his and-one, and the Suns have scored 6 points on a single trip down the court. Not good times.