The piece you're reading now is actually my second draft of the recap. In fact, I had the first one all done through the third quarter when it looked like the Bobcats were going to run away with this one, and then the fourth quarter happened.Yeah, thanks a lot guys. They just couldn't be content with a 16-point blowout, and just had to make things interesting.
This game really felt like theirs all along. Kemba finished the first quarter with eight points and two assists and Byron Mullens added a couple blocks to take a 28-24 lead into the second. From there, the Bobcats held the Timberwolves to just 14 second quarter points, and Andrei Kirilenko was really the only real threat to the Bobcats' advantage to that point. What was perhaps most impressive, is that the league's worst team in Opponent's Points per Game (Bobcats) held the Timberwolves to just 38 points at the half and the league's best team in in Opponent eFG% (Timberwolves) allowed the Bobcats to shoot 56% at the half.
Honestly, by the time the third quarter wrapped up with the 'Cats holding a 16 point lead, it appeared the game was in hand. It seemed that the Wolves were running out of gas being relegated to a nine man bench (Well, seven if you count Malcolm Lee leaving the game and Will Conroy playing all of four minutes), and the Bobcats were teeming with confidence coming off of their second consecutive win. Really, the Wolves' rotations looked slow, they were barely chasing rebounds at one point, and they didn't score from 4:45 left in the quarter until a pair of Malcolm Lee free throws early in the fourth. Although they managed to cut the lead down to seven, it still didn't feel like they had enough left to take the game back.
THEN EVERYTHING STARTED HAPPENING.
Sparked by better ball movement and improved shot selection, the Timberwolves rallied with a 10-0 run, and suddenly we had a ball game with the game back in single digits, 75-66. Worse yet, this Bobcats team had never been in a situation quite like this, and were about to find out how they would respond as a young team losing a big lead on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back. But they never stopped battling, even when they called timeout with their lead down to 87-85 and it felt like they had lost all of their momentum.
It seemed like they were going to lose it for sure once Reggie Williams called the time out he didn't have when he couldn't in-bound the ball. Or when Tyrus Thomas stepped out of bounds with 0:13 seconds left. And even when Derrick Williams tied the game at 87 at the line just a second later.
But they didn't, and we all watched as Kemba brought the ball up court, crossed Alexey Shved over several times, before nailing the stepback jumper at the free throw line with seven-tenths of a second left.
It was a great moment, not just because they won, but because we can see the change. By all accounts, last year's team would've folded like an old lawn chair in that situation. We've been told about the change in culture, which is said many times by incoming coaches in sports, but we're now seeing that play out. Ultimately, it gives reason for hope and positivity for a change.
I know how young teams are, and I'm not that far removed from witnessing one up-close myself, and this was a great moment. There's no need to qualify this with mentions of the Wolves' injuries, or the near-collapse. In the end, you still have to go out and do it, which not all teams are able to do. Considering they are young, on a back-to-back, on the road and probably toeing the fine line being confident or over-confident, that's even more impressive.
So, this is three in a row, which puts them over .500, and having four wins through seven games is...well, they won seven games last year. Even though it's just three games in an eighty two game season, this should still be enjoyed, especially after an insufferable 2011 season. If there's one fanbase that gets to celebrate something like this, it's the Bobcats'. Watching a young team take strides like this is one of the more enjoyable parts of watching such a team, even though there will still be there share of low points.
Tonight, it wouldn't have been surprising if the Bobcats had started making careless turnovers, taking bad shots, or lapsing on defense once their lead slipped away; that's just what young teams do. It takes a lot of maturity for a developing team to be able to ride out the storm, rediscover their focus after they lost it, and then get the win. Hopefully we can say the same later in the season, but for tonight...KEMBAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
|Final - 11.14.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|