(Courtesy H. RUMPH JR. – AP)
The Bobcats were coming off a great 108-98 home win over the Knicks, & the reclaimed the 8th seed in the East. Like most times after an emotional home victory versus a surging ball club it was followed by a road game versus an inferior opponent. The Bobcats visited the 76ers last night at the Wachovia Center and they got their very first look at rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams. The matchup between the former Syracuse standout and Kemba Walker made for a rather interesting dynamic. So let’s get into it, shall we?
The first quarter was an ideal start for Coach Clifford and his squad as they established Al Jefferson on the low block very early. Al Jefferson led the charge in the 1st quarter with 12 points as he dominated the front line of the Sixers. The Bobcats had gotten off to a 27-24 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Sixers were forcing their up and down pace on the exhausted Bobcats throughout the 1st quarter and it showed in the 2nd quarter. The teams traded baskets for the first few minutes and that’s when Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten started to get going. MCW hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Tony Wroten put Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on a poster. These were 2 energy plays that swung momentum in the Sixers favor as they won the 2nd quarter 29-18.
One thing that must be noted is that before the end of the 2nd half Kemba Walker had 2 hoop mixtape moments where he embarassed Michael Carter-Williams and hit a 3-pointer after the killer crossover. The miniscule Wachovia Center crowd was ooing and awing at Walker's ability to put the rookie on skates.
The Bobcats were down 45-53 and needed to come out with a renewed sense of focus in the 2nd half and that’s exactly what they did. Kemba Walker had 8 points and made his presence felt as the leader of the team in the 3rd quarter. The team was hitting shots, forcing turnovers and getting stops which allowed them to win the 3rd quarter 23-19.
Ramon Sessions chipped in huge during the 4th quarter with 8 points including an alley-oop to Anthony Tolliver (didn’t expect that one). The game went back and forth, and as the teams hit the home stretch, the team leaders needed to step up. So, down 90-92 the Bobcats needed their best player to hit a big time shot. That’s just what Kemba Walker did as he drilled a 15 footer to tie the game at 92. The Bobcats needed a stop, but would they get it? The answer to that would be a resounding no. Thaddeus Young drilled a 3-pointer to give the Sixers the lead which would also give them the win.
The game was just another one of the many late game collapses by the Bobcats this season but many positives to take from this. The biggest of these would be the team forcing over 20 turnovers and holding Philly to only 95 points. The Cats are getting back to their style of basketball. Also, Kemba Walker had 26 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Kemba did a little bit of everything. One thing to not lose sight of is Al Jefferson passing out of double teams. He found open cutters several times tonight as he had 4 assists. He is still known as the "Black hole" but if you get shooters to offer some spacing for cutters he has the ability to make plays for his teammates.
Lots of positives to take from tonight’s game, the wins will come soon Cats fans.