Boxscore of Bobcats vs Nets – 12/04/2009
Score: 97-91 New Jersey Nets
Charlotte Bobcats Record: 7-11
Offensive Efficiency: 95.8
Defensive Efficiency: 101.0
Meritorious Player: Raymond Felton – Ray had his highest score game of the season, with 28 points on a very efficient 11-14 from the floor (2 of 4 from the line), along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. In addition, he helped hold Devin Harris to 2 of 14 from the floor.
The game came down to the final 2 minutes and 50 seconds of action. The Bobcats had rallied to tie the score at 86 on 2 Stephen Jackson three-pointers and it came down to the clutch – and the Bobcats just blew it. The Nets scored on 5 straight possessions to go up 97-88 and that would be enough to end their 18-game losing streak. They were aided by three Bobcat turnovers and a lot of whistles (though only one that I really took issue with):
-Courtney Lee uses a screen to penetrate and gets karate chopped on the head – he makes both for the two point lead.
-Boris Diaw tries to hand off to Gerald Wallace as he comes around a screen but Courtney Lee jumped it and takes off with the ball for a breakaway dunk. Nets up 4.
-The Bobcats work the ball around and get a decent look at a three for Stephen Jackson but it does not go down.
Time for the dubious call: Devin Harris gets three free throws by jumping near Raymond at the top of the arc and falling down (reminds me of D.J. Augustin getting the call on Derrick Rose last year in Chicago to send that game to OT). Harris makes them all to make it a 7 point game (and with just 1:25 left, that is quite a hurdle for these offensively challenged Cats).
After another Bobcats turnover (bad pass by Jax), Brook Lopez draws a foul on Boris Diaw and clinches the game with 2 free throws, 95-86 New Jersey with a minute left.
It was as ugly as it sounds – the Bobcats could not match the Nets energy at the end and it cost them the game (and some respect around the league as they are now a trivia answer). What might have left them so tired? How about getting just 41 minutes from the bench – with a combined line of 5 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 4 turnovers in those minutes. Not the best night from the bench, with Nazr Mohammed, Stephen Graham, and Ronald Murray the only players to get the call from the pine and doing little with the opportunity. In fact, the bench players represent the Bobcats with the worst +/- marks of the night, with Flip at -8, and Nazr and Stevie at -12 a piece – and from what I saw, it was no coincidence or misfortune – they just did not have it. My personal favorite – Stephen Graham's headlock on Terrence Williams as the third quarter was about to end – rather than a 3-point lead going into the 4th, Graham's foul on Williams at the Bobcats end of the court gave the Nets two points (and a chance for another as Larry Brown argued the call and drew a technical – Larry, they had this one right). I would not call it a momentum shifter, but it certainly did not help.
It was not one player's fault, though, nor was it the referees. The Bobcats hurt themselves with another poor night at the free throw line, 18 of 30 – 60%, and too many turnovers – 19 in a 95 possession game. All 5 starters aside from Raymond had 3 a piece and Ray had 2 – it was a team effort all around.
I want to highlight a couple of other things before I wrap this up: Gerald Wallace had another huge game with 13 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Unreal. Stephen Jackson had one of his best performances as a Bobcat with 28 points on 23 shots, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block (no one said he was going to be an ultra-efficient scorer). Tyson Chandler had his second double-double of the season, with 13 and 12 – unfortunately, it took 9 field goal attempts and 8 free throw attempts to get those 13 – 4 of 9 and 5 of 8. Last up: Boris Diaw – still struggling, just 1 of 6 from the floor for 4 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds.
The good news out of all this: The Bobcats played what felt like was a pretty horrible game, yet defensively they put up a mark that would be good for the 5th best efficiency in the league (though it came against the league's worst offense – stop that, I am trying to be positive). Ok – that last parenthetical got me, I am going to call it good – better luck next time Cats.