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Henderson plays the hero this time

Minnesota Timberwolves 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Charlotte Bobcats
Bismack Biyombo, PF 32 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -12

A solid performance for Bismack at both ends, as he was relatively collected upon receiving the ball in the post and going up for his attempts (though I do think he travelled on that last basket). Defensively, Bis blocked a couple of shots and challenged a few, plus used a couple of fouls smartly to prevent easy scores for Minnesota.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10

4 fouls in just 15 minutes of action for MKG, and only a single basket to the positive. The rookie has got to avoid the cheap fouls he’s been picking up lately – his fourth was an instance where he put a hand in an opponent’s chest, with his arm outstretched, to block their movement on an inbounds play – an easy call for the officials that they had to make.

Kemba Walker, PG 37 MIN | 8-17 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 25 PTS | -2

7 points and 2 assists in the fourth quarter for Kemba helped carry the Bobcats to the win (though the second assist he was credited with was Gerald Henderson’s shot clock beating three for the win, following Kemba scrambling all over, including into the backcourt, trying to protect the ball from the Wolves, and getting bailed out of a horrible possession).

Gerald Henderson, SG 32 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -9

The game winning three for Henderson – so, well done there. But the Bobcats struggled to get the ball to Henderson in the post, to exploit mismatches with Barea, Ridnour and Rubio all night long. And when Henderson did get those mismatches, his success rate wasn’t great – nor did he do a good job of finding teammates when double teams came. It’s an area where all parties need to improve – as proved by the late game steal by Rubio off an entry pass to Henderson.

Tyrus Thomas, PF 18 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Tyrus – good job on the rebounding – in particular, I liked the one you ripped right out of the hands of Kirilenko. But cool it with the midrange jumpers – please. 1 of 6 from the field, with five attempts on midrange jumpers. It’s the least efficient shot in basketball, but seemingly the only one in your arsenal.

Brendan Haywood, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +10

A strange line for Haywood, with 3 blocks and 1 turnover in his 12 minutes on the court, and nothing else. But it worked. Haywood did a good job of anchoring the defense and turning away driving Wolves during his time on the court.

Ramon Sessions, PG 34 MIN | 7-11 FG | 9-10 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 23 PTS | +12

Just look at Ramon’s shot chart – all of those shots at the basket (plus 10 free throw attempts, which typically come from drives to the hoop as well). Sessions took advantage of the Wolves defense as the guards couldn’t stay in front of him and the bigs couldn’t force a miss once he got to them.

Jeffery Taylor, SG 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +5

Taylor didn’t see many minutes tonight, but he did come in just as things had gotten to the worst, with the Bobcats down 18 in the first quarter. Taylor made a three to help start the slow recovery of Charlotte from one of their worst stretches of basketball all season.

Ben Gordon, SG 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +8

With the Bobcats playing a 4 guard lineup for stretches, Gordon helped make it work, by taking and making Ben Gordon shots. 18 points on 13 attempts (though 3 turnovers), and Stiemsma’s cheap shot only seemed to help get Gordon going.

Stiemsma swipes at Ben Gordon's head

Five Things We Saw

  1. The first 8+ minutes of this game may have been the worst stretch of basketball played by Charlotte this season. Missed defensive assignments, careless turnovers, open threes for the opposition – it was all on display to start this game, as the Cats fell behind 29-11 with 3:40 to go in the first quarter. A Charlotte run cut the deficit to 9 entering the second quarter…except for J.J. Barea burying a 40-foot three pointer to close out the quarter, and giving Minny a 12-point lead.
  2. There may have been concern that such a play would kill the Bobcats’ momentum and energy, with seemingly everything against them. But they did not let that happen, as they battled throughout the second quarter – while they didn’t make up much ground, they didn’t concede any either.
  3. And the second half was all Charlotte (well, aside from J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour making 3 threes in the 4th quarter to bring the Wolves back from an 8-point deficit and set up the thrilling finish). Charlotte out-rebounded the Wolves 24-12 in the second half, giving up a single offensive rebound.
  4. And the other thing the Bobcats did to get out in front – creating havoc defensively and scoring on the turnovers. While both teams finished the game with 17 turnovers, Charlotte turned Minnesota’s turnovers into 22 points, while the Wolves could manage just 15. When the Bobcats got steals and deflections, they forced the issue and capitalized on the easy points.
  5. However, the Bobcats’ scrambling defense did nearly do them in, as they allowed the league’s worst three point shooting team to make 10 of 20 attempts from long range. It paid off in the win column – but it also showed that NBA players will make open looks at a pretty good clip.