(Courtesy Dave Tulis – AP)
Well, it’s same story line, but in a different city. Charlotte left Charlotte last night after a close loss to the Thunder to face the Hawks tonight in yet another of their NBA back-to-back games. Yet again, they failed to take control in the 1st quarter, which, down the stretch, cost them the game. There were other factors involved, but you have to keep reading to see what they were…
The Bobcats don’t do well in playing catch up after falling behind in the first quarter. Tonight was no exception as the first quarter ended with the Hawks being up 25-22. 3 points doesn’t sound like a lot, but that first quarter saw the likes of Paul Milsap being unstoppable. Tolliver couldn’t contain him, McRoberts couldn’t contain him, and Zeller couldn’t contain him. I’m still asking @FoxBobcats, @BobcatsMartin, and @StephanieReady why we never saw Jeff Adrien get a chance to try and slow him down. I guess that will be my mystery of the night unless that question gets asked in the post-game conference with Coach Clifford, and he gives us some sort of answer. I think he could have been a fit to slow Milsap down. He always slows down players like Carlos Boozer, so I would have given it a shot, but I’m not the coach, so I digress. If you’re wondering, Milsap finished with 31 points on 10-18 field goal shooting, 1-3 from the 3-point line, and 12-14 from the foul line. He also had 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks.
Usually our primary scoring threat is Kemba Walker, but when he is 4-20 on field goals, 3-6 from the 3-point line, and 5-6 from the free throw line for a total of 16 points, things have to be picked up by the other players. Kemba also had 1 rebound, 5 assists, 1 turnover, and 1 block. Other players did pick up the scoring slack though. Al Jefferson had 24 points & 23 rebounds and Gerald Henderson had 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Anthony Tolliver chipped in 12 points & 7 rebounds, and McRoberts had one of those low scoring nights where he only contributed 5 points but chipped in 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 block and 1 turnover.
The bench came to play as they contributed as well. Sessions (15pts), Douglas-Roberts (7 pts), Gordon (7pts), Biyombo (6pts, 3rebs, 2blks), and Zeller (2pts, 3rebs, 2asts, 1stl) all did what the bench had to do in order to win the game.
For me, it all came down to who wanted it more tonight (I will say that there were tons of bad calls by the refs…again. They love controlling the outcome of games don’t they?). We shot a better FG%, but they hit 16 of 39 from 3-point land. You don’t win games by allowing 3-pointers to be hit like that. Those are images from last season’s numbers. Those 3s kept Atlanta in it long enough to carry them into overtime, where the Bobcats kept leaning on Kemba Walker, who was just off of his game tonight. It proved fatal in the end as the Bobcats fell 118 – 116.
This was what should have been a victory in my book, but we have to move forward from the last 2 losses as we head out west to face Utah on the 30th, the Clippers on New Year’s Day, Portland on the 2nd (another back to back), Sacramento on the 4th, then we head home to face the Wizards on the 7th. I’m not sure how many games we will be able to recap over this road trip, but we’ll do what we can, even if it is just sharing the box score and player stats. Until then, we want to wish the Bobcats safe travels to Utah, and let’s have a successful west coast swing.
Let’s go CATS!