Boxscore of Hawks and Bobcats
Score: 104-103 Charlotte
Bobcats record: 42-36
Offensive Efficiency: 110.6
Defensive Efficiency: 108.4
Meritorious Player: D.J. Augustin – 14 points for the game, 9 on 3 big threes late in the fourth to help the Bobcats catch backup and ultimately pull this one out.
With a 23 point lead at the half and Chris Paul in street clothes, it again seemed like the Bobcats would have a chance to rest their starters in an easy win. And that is when they nearly role-played the popular children's story of the the Tortoise and the Hare with the Hornets. How does a 26 point lead become an 8 point deficit? Turnovers, turnovers, and then a couple more turnovers. 22 for the game with 6 coming in the third quarter and 7 more coming in the fourth. As Steve Martin pointed out, it was largely the result of sloppy passes – balls that were either just a bit off target, causing the recipient to bobble it and allowing a Hornet to swoop in, or others that were telegraphed and batted away before they could even reach their target, the Bobcats found all manner of ways to throw the ball away in the fourth.
But the Bobcats battled back – Gerald Wallace drew charges on consecutive Hornets possessions (as the Hornets finished the game with 14 turnovers themselves)…and then the Hornets stretched the lead from three points to the ultimate max of 8 they would achieve. Yes, consecutive offensive fouls by the Hornets were met with zero points by the Bobcats – they turned it over on both of the ensuing possessions.
With an epic collapse appearing imminent, the Bobcats rolled off eight straight points in just over a minute. They attacked the rim, with Stephen Jackson making two at the stripe after a foul and then Gerald Wallace got the and-1 on a fast break lay-in. The next possession concluded with one of D.J.'s three-pointers, on a somewhat nerve wracking diagonal pass from Boris Diaw in the post (10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists for Boris – and 5 turnovers – shockingly, one of the chief culprits of the careless passes).
Some back and forth from there, with one ridiculously easy layup for Darren Collison when no one helped D.J. after a Darius Songalia screen out top freed him to put the Hornets back on top with 44 seconds left. When Raymond Felton corralled an offensive rebound from a Stephen Jackson miss with about 24 seconds left, the Cats called a timeout to give Larry Brown a chance to draw something up – and it worked beautifully. A nearly wide-open three for D.J. was the result and he buried it (plus he did a funny little celebratory hand-kiss thing that my wife quite enjoyed – whatever, I liked the confidence).
One last name to credit: Raymond Felton – he sealed the game with his swipe off David West on the Hornets possession following D.J.'s make. The Hornets managed to get the ball down the lane with Collison, but he missed the shot and it was batted around – as West brings it down, Raymond knocked it away and raced up court but was fouled. Two free throws later, and the game was acedemic – the Cats up 4 with 1.8 left. Marcus Thornton got a shooter's bounce on an uncontested three at the close for the final margin, but the Bobcats had secured it – it being:
-A winning record for the season, with their 42nd victory
-A playoff berth, thanks to Toronto's loss to Boston
This time the hare managed to rouse in time and defeated the tortoise and what the payoff it was.