Charlotte faced a tough road entering this week. Losing one of their stars, Kemba Walker, for up to two weeks with an ankle injury was not the preferred way to take on the week. Especially with a matinee, a Western Conference powerhouse and a tussle with a defensive stallworth all on the docket. So what happened? Well, let’s take a look back and see.
-Head Coach Steve Clifford joined the Mac Attack on WFNZ on Tuesday, and as is his norm, gave a candid interview.
- On Wednesday, Forbes gave their listing of NBA team values. Charlotte ranked 29th of 30 teams, with the bright spot being a 30% increase in value.
- The 28 man roster for Team USA was announced on Thursday. Neither Kemba Walker nor Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made the cut.
- On Thursday, Walker revealed this is the first time he’s missed games…ever.
Monday, 1/20 at Time-Warner Cable Arena: Charlotte 100, Toronto 95
As the old saying goes, even the longest journey begins with a single step. On Monday afternoon, the Charlotte Bobcats began their first journey without Kemba Walker since his arrival. They got off on the right foot early.
While the lane is blue at Time-Warner Cable Arena, it might as well have been a red carpet for the Bobcats early on. Charlotte got almost any shot they wanted near the rim and converted 57.1% of their shots in the first quarter and 55.6% for the first half. Al Jefferson (22 points, 19 rebounds) was the ringleader of the Charlotte onslaught, becoming the first player in franchise history to record a double-double in the first quarter with his 10 point and 10 rebound performance. Ramon Sessions, filling in for the injured Walker, chipped in 11 of his 23 points in the first half as well.
Charlotte’s shooting touch and defensive prowess (Toronto was held to 33.3% shooting in the 1st half) continued deep into the third quarter. After a pair of Sessions free throws at the 4:37 mark, Charlotte’s lead swelled to 71-41.
At that point, a Charlotte win seemed inevitable to everyone. Everyone except the Raptors, that is. Buoyed by improved defense on Jefferson by Chuck Hayes, a declining defensive effort from the Bobcats and increased turnovers from the home team, Toronto nearly erased the entire 30 point deficit en route to amassing a 51-22 run.
It was not to be for the visiting team, though, as Kyle Lowry (21 points, 4 assists) missed the potential game-tying free throw with 25 seconds left and Jefferson corralled the rebound. From that point on, Charlotte hit six of seven free throws and held court defensively to avoid an embarrassing collapse.
Though the win was welcomed, the manner in which is was obtained was not lost on Jefferson.