The Charlotte Bobcats are a young team coming off two tough losses and played as such tonight. Looking more like the second night of a back-to-back than the first, Charlotte put up little fight as the host Milwaukee Bucks sprinted out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back winning 108-93.
Charlotte was held at arm's length all night save for about a minute and a half at the end of the game and for however long it took for the Bucks to create a double-digit lead. It took 11 minutes.
The Bobcats were fortunate to only be down 13 after the first quarter. Charlotte got two early steals from Kemba Walker and jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. All was well! But naturally that pace could not continue and the Bucks began to realize they could get into the lane at will, and did. The Bobcats refused to help on defense and gave up several easy shots in the paint that led to 10 made free throws on 12 attempts.
For its part, Charlotte wasn't playing horrible on offense it just wasn't rebounding very well or making initial shots...so when you look at it that way I guess it does sound pretty bad. Brendan Haywood (1 point) took one too many tries at the basket during an early possession, Jeff Taylor (4 points, 1-10 FG) missed three good looks at outside jumpers (two of them from three-point range) but Walker (16 points on 8-13 shooting, 6 assists, 3 steals) still gave Charlotte what he could with some nice penetration and step back jumpers.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11 points, 11 rebounds) got two fouls in the first quarter for the second game in a row. One was a cheapy, which he's good for probably all year (rookie thing) and one was just a bad foul. He let Marquis Daniels drive the length of the floor, riding his hip the whole way, then reached for a block late. Just not a good foul and head coach Mike Dunlap explained that to him (I'm guessing) when he hit the bench after that second foul.
Bottom line is that it was way too easy for Milwaukee to score 33 points in that first period.
Walker took a knee to the side of his head about halfway through the second quarter and the Cats took repeated body blows as the Bucks kept getting to loose balls, kept getting in the lane, kept beating the Bobcats in just about every facet of the game. It's a minor miracle the Bucks didn't get to 60 at the half because they had two very good looks at it.
Charlotte was 0-9 from three in the first half and just 3-13 on the night. Byron Mullens (because I know you want to know) actually did not hit a three (or take one) all game. He scored six points and got a little nicked up in the second half tweaking his left ankle. He went to the locker room and didn't reenter the game. Given the way it was going though that doesn't necessarily mean much.
Brandon Jennings (15 points) pushed the Bucks out to an 18-point halftime lead, Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 21 on the night looking like the player everyone chatters about, and Marquis Daniels salted the wound for 18 of his own.
Half time couldn't come fast enough.
Or maybe it could. The third quarter was more ridiculousness. Gerald Henderson did have a nice little stretch. He scored on three straight possessions including a tasty baseline jam that shows his explosion is still there, so too his jumper as he drilled two straight including a three.
Taylor has been a revelation in his time at the two but it wouldn't surprise me to see Hendo back in the starting lineup soon. I'm sure Dunlap and staff want to bring him along slowly and Taylor's one dud tonight is not reason enough to make the change. But Henderson is the starting two on this team when all is right and Taylor is an amazingly valuable piece off the bench, the best second-round pick (maybe the best period given over all value) in franchise history.
Nothing else cool happened in the third except Milwaukee was held under 90 points. And the Bobcats managed to keep the margin under 30 for the rest of the game which made searching for pictures of Joe Wolf in a Charlotte Hornets jersey more manageable.
DeSagana Diop scored his first points of the season tonight drilling the hell out of a jumper in the fourth quarter. He then hit another jumper from the elbow, meaning he hit two in a row. He then tested the patience of the basketball gods and drilled a heat check jumper from the elbow in the waning stages of the game to end the night 3-4 from the field.
The (other) bright spots were Henderson and Walker. Henderson looked really good, hitting that nice pull up jumper he's just about perfected and making 6-10 from the field on the night for 19 points. Adding Henderson back to this team will be a nice shot in the arm.
Walker played pretty well also. Obviously his team got shellacked so it can only be so good for the starting point guard, but he continues to get just about anywhere he wants whenever he wants. It's encouraging to see Walker see that sustained success, even on a night everyone would like to have inceptioned out of their brain.
The Charlotte reserves made a nice push at the end of the game, outplaying their Milwaukee counterparts and cutting the lead to nine. But with less than two minutes to go there just wasn't enough time to get Diop more shots from the elbow.
The San Antonio Spurs come calling Saturday night in Charlotte.