(Courtesy Sarah Hoffman – MCT)
After Sunday night's heartbreaking 99-98 loss and collapse to the Miami Heat the Bobcats knew they let one get away but they needed a good response in order to get a win on the road over the Dallas Mavericks. Now if basketball was a 3 quarter game the Bobcats would be 2-0 on this road trip with wins over the Heat and Mavericks. Sadly basketball is a 4 quarter game and Dirk Nowitzki did his best NBA Jam imitation in attempt to burn the nets and rip a road victory away from the Bobcats much like Chris Bosh did in Miami.
The 1st quarter started off like most Bobcats games with abysmal shooting but stellar defense. Their defense kept in the game despite 20% shooting from the field. The Cats lost the opening frame of play 18-22 but did a solid job of keeping Dirk in check, which was a good sign.
Kemba Walker got going in the 2nd quarter with 8 points and 3 assists, and suddenly the Bobcats were playing better basketball. Walker did a great job of getting to his spots and setting up his teammates to score. Before you knew it the Cats were up 42-39 at halftime. They were showing great mental toughness and playing the game at a slow but friendly pace as they shot 16 free throws in the 1st quarter, and guys like Gerald Henderson and Al Jefferson were playing well.
The 3rd quarter saw the Bobcats blitz the Mavericks and go on a 10-0 run led by 5 points from Gerald Henderson who hit a turnaround jump shot that looked a lot like Michael Jordan (a little?…OK, maybe it’s that bald head). Kemba hit a few 3-pointers and was clearly feeling it. The Bobcats took a 67-60 lead into the 4th quarter and had another chance to closeout a huge victory on the road. Could they do it?
The answer to that question was a resounding no. Dirk Nowitzki who shot 1-10 in the 1st half responded with 13 fourth quarter points, which ultimately gave Dallas the 89-82 win and handed the Bobcats yet another deflating road loss.
This game was lost for a few reasons. In my opinion, one of those reasons would be Steve Clifford's poor rotation management. Kemba Walker, who was feeling it offensively all night long, didn't check back in until the Mavericks had already taken the lead from the Bobcats. This is inexcusable if a game changing player like Dirk is hot and your hottest player is on the bench. You’re going to have problems, no doubt about it. Clifford has a bad habit of letting Kemba rest for way too deep into the 4th quarter, even when he’s hot. I understand Kemba needs some rest but you can't manage every game the same way.
Another solid performance from Walker was wasted once again, as he poured in 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block on 7-15 shooting. The team played very well but they cannot under any circumstances give up 3-point shots in the 4th quarter when they have a lead. The Mavs hit 8 three-pointers on 38% shooting, and that’s where the game was ultimately won and lost. The Bobcats are playing well but 4th quarter execution must improve.