The Bobcats have become about as streaky as any team can be, following a four game losing streak with a four game winning streak. But playing at home against arguably the worst team in the NBA, and struggling to hold onto a one point win, does not inspire confidence in this team. It’s true that the Cavs came off their biggest win of the season against the Miami Heat but they had to travel and play the ‘Cats in a back-to-back game. Stephen Jackson, Charlottes’ best player, did not return for the second half because of his lingering hamstring injury, but Jackson, 3 points and 2 assists, was not having a major impact and the ‘Cats trailed by three points at the half.
Gerald Henderson shines as Charlotte Bobcats slide past Milwaukee Bucks. Still clinging to playoff hopes.
The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde best personifies the 2010-11 Charlotte Bobcats campaign. After spending the latter part of February and early March mired in a losing slump, we as Bobcats fans were spending just as much time talking about lottery selections in the NBA Draft, as we were first round playoff match-ups. However, the Ides of March have now brought upon us a three game winning streak capped by last night’s dramatic finish against Milwaukee at the Cable Box in Uptown Charlotte.
Stephen Jackson led the Bobcats’ score sheet with 18 points, but Gerald Henderson stole the show in the waning moments. Scoring the final seven points for Charlotte, Henderson came off of well-positioned screens and nailed back-to-back jumpers from the elbow in clutch fashion to secure the Bobcats win. The second-year pro has stepped up all year since Coach Silas gave him the green light and his future is bright in the Queen City. Prior to being injured late in the game, DJ Augustin was dishing out dimes like candy. DJ’s replacement, Shaun Livingston was sidelined as well in the third quarter after Drew Gooden went WWE on him with a pretty brutal foul. D-League call-up Garrett Temple filled in nicely down the stretch and the rest of the Charlotte bench shouldered the load for the ailing Bobcats.
So, Just when we all give up hope and start concerning ourselves with potential lottery picks more than a possible playoff berth, the Bobcats do the unthinkable and climb back into the race for the final spot. Last night’s victory against the Knicks in conjunction with Friday’s inexplicable short-handed win against the Celtics and a loss by the Indiana Pacers ( thank you Detroit ) have positioned the Cats 1 game out of the 8th spot with 10 games left to play. The Pacers hold the tiebreaker, but still this is more than we could have possibly hoped for considering the position we were in just a week ago.
Looking at last night’s game, the Knicks offered no defensive resistance. The Bobcats put up 64 points in the first half and followed that up with another 50 in the second half. The Bobcats are not an offensive juggernaut by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, so to give up 114 points last night shows that they have some severe defensive problems with their squad. The Knicks allowed the Bobcats to have 8 players reach double figure scoring. Boris Diaw (wait… what???) led the Bobcats in scoring and rebounding with 20 points and 8 rebounds. If we can get Boris to have more than one of these performances per month then we may be on to something.
This game appeared to be more about the Celtics indifferent play heading into the playoffs than a stunning upset by the Bobcats. But to give due credit, the ‘Cats had as many players (four) scoring in double figures as the Celtics. Charlotte notched their third win against nine losses so far in March. That makes the game more about the lack of intensity from a Celtics team assured a playoff spot.
The Bobcats played one of the two teams, the Bucks being the other, that they have to beat to have any chance of getting into the playoffs this year. Well, after being totally dominated by the Pacers in the second half, I think it is safe to say these ‘Cats are not going to the playoffs this year. The first half ended with Charlotte behind by one point but the second half was totally controlled by Indiana. The Pacers outscored the Bobcats 57-34 after halftime.
The Pacers shot better than the Bobcats, 53.2%-44.4%, controlled the boards against the ‘Cats, 37-28, and had one less turn-over than the Bobcats, 11-12, and they did this against Charlotte on their home court. It is not even important, as far as the playoffs go, for the ‘Cats to keep games close – they had to win, but fell miserably short. The loss puts the Bobcats three games behind the Pacers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.