The Bobcats can’t afford to spot teams points at the beginning of a game. But for the second time in as many games the young Cats from Charlotte did just that. From the very beginning of the 129-90 (!) Miami Heat win, Miami went inside to Chris Bosh. Unlike last week when Bosh and the inside game waited until the third quarter to come on strong, the Miami big man took it to the Charlotte interior from jump building up a 11-2 lead. The rest of the Heat followed suit. Mario Chalmers hit threes; and Dwayne Wade was seemingly on the end of every LeBroooooooooooooooooooooooon Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames (translated for those used to hearing his name from the Heat PA announcer) full court pass for a dunk.
Our own Ben Swanson mentioned on Twitter yesterday he had a bad feeling about this game and he was correct. But I think we should keep some of this in perspective. This Miami team was in the Finals last year and is the favorite of many to return and win it all this year. Miami is very good, and like most teams is going to play better at home.
Bosh’s early success, and Charlotte’s futility on offense early on added up to a game that was pretty much decided before it really got going. LeBron James was held to one field goal in the first half and Miami was up 65-37at the break. Based on that score you can see it wasn’t just that Miami was doing just about anything it wanted, but that Charlotte could hardly get anything going on the offensive end.
The lone bright spot from a starting unit was the play of D.J. White, who had a career high 21 points on 10-12 shooting. You can tell White has and does put in the work and it’s great to see that paying off for him and the Bobcats. He continues to be accurate from the outside with his jump shot. Paul Silas said after the game White has earned the minutes and even when injured forward Tyrus Thomas returns, White will continue to be on the floor.
D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette were both 0-for-the-first-half from the floor, and outside of White the starting unit as a whole only hit three shots from the field. Against one of the best teams in basketball that is a recipe for disaster and that’s exactly what this was.
But the Bobcats are going to have some of these, and again there is a reason the Heat is favored to win it all this year.
What had to be somewhat frustrating for Charlotte fans (those that stuck around to watch) was the delay in getting the younger group of players on the floor to get some minutes, particularly in the second half. The game was pretty much out of reach from the start, but Kemba Walker didn’t enter in the game in the second half until the 3:32 mark of the third quarter. At that point the Bobcats were down 30.
Would it have been nice to see Walker, Bismack Biyombo (who may have had his best game as a pro) and Byron Mullens (who may have had is worst game as a Bobcat) get on the floor sooner? Sure, especially since it looked like there was very little interest from anyone else to be out there. But that is really nitpicking and just searching for anything to be intrigued by at the time. However, if there was another plus for the Bobcats tonight it was Walker shaking off the rough performance in his last outing against the Magic to net a career high 17 points on 6-13 shooting (2-4 from three point range) and four assists.
Walker is fearless, and he pushes the ball at every opportunity. His size is not a factor at the NBA level in getting to the rim. You can see that aggressiveness rub off on the rest of the group on the floor when he’s in the game. Of course he’s a rookie and still has a learning curve, but it’s hard to argue that his presence on the floor is something the Bobcats desperately need.
Fellow rookie Biyombo continues to impress me, especially on the offensive end. Don’t get me wrong; no one is mistaking him for Olajuwon, Duncan or Robinson when he’s got the ball in the post. But he looks much more comfortable when he gets the ball down low and makes moves that have you saying, "that’s not too bad." A ringing endorsement? No. But from what many reviews said of his ability on offense you would expect to see him shy away from having the ball in the post, he doesn’t. His moves are made with more and more confidence each game. It’s going to be fun to watch him improve.
This is Silas’ team so I’m not one to question his methods, certainly not this early in the season. There is something to be said for making those guys play through that crap too. He had to sit there and watch it, and he didn’t look thrilled about that, so maybe he wanted his vets to soak it all in. It didn’t matter who was out there truthfully.
Corey Maggette: "Zero, point, zero." Maggette did not hit a shot from the field tonight missing both from long range and all six of his attempts. His two points came from the free throw line. Hopefully Miami is just a bad matchup for him, a REALLY bad matchup.
D.J. White: White was fantastic, noted previously. Only four rebounds from the big fella though and you’d like to see a few more in that category. But how can you not be happy to see what he’s giving this team?
Boris Diaw: Diaw was only eight rebounds, seven assists, and five points away from a triple-double.
Gerald Henderson: For the second game in a row Henderson’s shots were short, and his legs looked tired. He did not hit a three tonight and was only 4-13 from the field. Henderson was again charged with sticking Dwayne Wade much of the night. Wade was relatively held in check (22 points, none of huge consequence) only by the fact that he really wasn’t needed tonight. He’s still a tough cover obviously.
D.J. Augustin: Augustin did not have a good game. He only hit one shot from the field, no threes, two free throws and had three turnovers in 24 minutes. He did contribute seven assists but his counterpart Chalmers was spotting up all night long for open threes (4-4).
DeSagna Diop: Only four minutes logged tonight. Four more than the previous matchup against the Heat.
Matt Carroll: Carroll’s spot on this team and in the rotation continues to be a bit of a head-scratcher. When he’s not hitting the three it’s tough to pinpoint his contribution on the floor. He hasn’t it a three yet this season but did play a season-high 13 minutes tonight.
Derrick Brown: Brown did have a nice night in Miami, grabbing seven boards and chipping in 14 points. He hit one three tonight, and also made a good decision not challenging LeBron James again on a breakaway dunk attempt. Brown had his best game of the season tonight.
Cory Higgins: Higgins made his professional debut for the Bobcats tonight hitting a three and scoring five points in five minutes of play.
Kemba Walker: Walker had another nice game in 24 minutes on the floor, 17 points, a career high. Watching a draft pick being able to actually contribute and being able to tell you’ve got a player is something Charlotte fans should feel good about.
Byron Mullens: Mullens’ toughest game as a Bobcat yet and still not enough of a presence on the boards (3 rebounds, zero offensive) as Silas would certainly like to see. Still, he provides the height, athleticism, and scoring that I think will make it tough to keep him on the bench for long.
Bismack Biyombo: Two more blocks, six points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of playing time. Biyombo rebounds as if he’s been launched out of a cannon. Certainly there is plenty for him to improve on and learn, but he’s further from being a project with each passing game and looks more like a player who can contribute. He’s fun to watch. His offense should come and he’s still learning to play.