Boxscore of Magic and Bobcats – Game 1
Score: 98-89 Orlando
Bobcats record: 0-1
Offensive Efficiency: 104.7
Defensive Efficiency: 114.0
Meritorious Player: Gerald Wallace – 25 points on 8 of 13 from the floor, 9 of 13 from the line. Crash owned the glass with 17 rebounds on the game, helping the Bobcats to out-rebound the Magic 41-34.
The first half was as about as poor of a way to introduce themselves to the playoffs as the Bobcats could have played – but then they nearly redeemed it in the second half. Charlotte was out-scored 59-43 over the first 24 minutes, but put the clamps on defensively and began to aggressively attack the basket over the final 24, as they owned a 46-39 second half advantage. In the third quarter, the Bobcats fell behind by 22 early but did not give up, drawing as close as 4 during the final period before ultimately falling.
A large chunk of that first half lead was beat by Jameer Nelson, beating his man (Raymond Felton) off the dribble for a lay in. On a couple of occasions, Raymond seemed frustrated by the help defense as well as his teammate's work on pick and rolls with Nelson – and that appeared to have something to do with Nazr Mohammed. Nazr does not look to have his legs back under him after his injury, a step slow on defense and with no touch offensively at this time. In just 8 minutes of action, the Bobcats were at -12 with Nazr on the floor, surrendering an offensive efficiency of 157.1 to the Magic in that time. Nazr managed just 2 points on 1 of 4 shooting and 1 rebound in his limited action. Had he been able to make it back sooner in the regular season, Nazr would be helpful in providing some post scoring for the Bobcats – but I do not know if they can afford to let him play his way back into shape with only 3 losses to go in the season.
Having noted that Raymond was largely assigned to Jameer Nelson as he exploded for 24 first half points (and 32 on the game), I will also note that Raymond certainly held his own offensively, with 19 points on 14 attempts, 4 assists, and just 2 turnovers. While Ray was the only starter who did not have playoff experience, he did not act like it, with a solid game after the team made defensive adjustments on Jameer. For the Bobcat who seemed like a newbie to the playoffs, we have to look at one of the most experienced, Stephen Jackson. Even before he hyper-extended his knee as the first half closed, Jax was not having a great game and finished with 18 points on 6 of 18 shooting, with 5 turnovers, plus a technical. That technical came in the first half, when the Bobcats attempted just 6 free throws. In the second half, the Bobcats attempted 22, with 15 in the third quarter alone. On a related note, Dwight Howard was credited with 8 blocks in the first half and finished the game with 9.
A couple of other points before I call it quits: Tyson Chandler did not have much to indicate it in his boxscore line, but his presence on the court was huge for the Bobcats. While he finished with just 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in his 14 minutes, the Bobcats were a different team with him on the floor, scoring at a rate of 111.5 points per 100 possessions, and surrendering them at just a 77.8 clip. Part of that was the personnel he was matched up against and part of that was the significant improvement he provided defensively over Nazr. The screen and roll defense with Tyson in the middle is just an all-together different animal, with the best example being a pick and roll at the top of the key where Jameer Nelson turned the corner and got to the rim, only to have his shot swatted off the backboard by a trailing Tyson. Should Theo Ratliff experience foul trouble in game 2, perhaps Tyson Chandler will be the first big man off the bench, even if it does go against Larry Brown's substitution patterns.
After an impressive opening quarter where he scored 6 quick points for the Bobcats, Boris Diaw finished the game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers. After a couple of scores in the lane early, Boris had Bobcat fans excited that this was going to be one of his aggressive, assertive games – but it was not to be. The Bobcats need more out of Boris to win, though he, like Tyson, was strong in pick and roll defense, forcing tough jumpers out of Jameer Nelson on a switch more than once.
That is all I have for now – the Bobcats put up a good fight after some initial adversity and Stephen Jackson after the game did not seem to be even remotely considering missing any time for his knee. Wednesday and their second chance arrives soon.