Bobcats fall just short, lose to Heat 101-97

Mike Ehrmann

The Bobcats, despite their best efforts, couldn't pull the game out in the end. They spent way too much of the game consistently down by just a few possessions.

There are four sides to a square.

Four is the smallest composite number.

Four in roman numerals is IV

In Japan the number, four is considered bad luck because it's pronunciation is a homonym for death.

Four is a number Bobcats fans got pretty well-acquainted with tonight because, for the longest time, Charlotte couldn't bring the Heat's lead any lower than that.

In a cruel sense of irony, after finally breaking the four-point wall and having a chance to tie the game, the Bobcats still lost by four.

The entire game it felt like no matter what the Bobcats did, they couldn't even the game, stuck behind the four-point fence. They would use every ounce of energy they had to get the lead down, and then LeBron would make some crazy and-1 or Norris Cole would shoot a three. Before the Bobcats knew it, the lead was back to double-digits and there they were fighting again.

The game was an uphill battle from the start. Al Jefferson was clearly bothered by his plantar fascia injury and was largely ineffective. He had to go the locker room early and to say the Bobcats didn't handle it well is an understatement. The Heat continued to put pressure on the backcourt, forcing the Bobcats into sloppy ballhandling. Gary Neal, Kemba Walker, and Luke Ridnour started the game 2-for-10. Even with all of this struggling, the Bobcats still managed to keep the game within 10 at the end of the half. Of course, it took a mini-run and a Kemba Walker three to even bring them to 10.

I don't know if at halftime the Bobcats drank some of Michael Jordan's secret stuff from Space Jam but they were an entirely different team coming out of halftime. Al Jefferson looked rejuvenated, Kemba Walker was managing the game well, they massively cut down on the turnovers, and the offense had a flow. They went from scrambling to finding any open shot to working for shots they wanted instead of what the defense was willing to give them.

A big factor into the revival of their offense was Al Jefferson. Even injured, Big Al still commanded a double team. Knowing his limitations due to injury, Jefferson picked his spots on offense and did a lot of passing. What he managed to do on one foot was really incredible, getting another double double finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds. As mentioned prior, he had a rough start, shooting 3-for-10 for six points in the first half, but in the third quarter he had 10 points on as many first-half attempts.

Soon the Bobcats found themselves in a situation where they would pull the game to within four, and the Heat would increase their lead. No matter what Charlotte did, Miami just held them at arm's length. However, credit has to be given to them never caving when the Heat would extend their lead back to 10. Usually when the Heat extend a lead their opponent doesn't get back in the game. The Bobcats fought back every time.

While (pardon my cliche) Big Al was the heart of the Bobcats during this run, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the muscle. MKG was everywhere on the court on defense and offense: rebounds, put backs, incredible defense and, yes, even that funky jumpshot of his. It was all working for Kidd-Gilchrist as he finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in easily his best game of the season and maybe his career.

Towards the end of the game, the Bobcats finally managed to put a little bit of a scare in the Heat as the game came to a close. Charlotte finally broke the four-point wall and, thanks to a big three pointer from Kemba, pulled the game to one. After fouling to save time the Bobcats had the last shot and a chance to tie the game. The Heat locked down everybody on the Bobcats and managed to trap Chris Douglas-Roberts in the corner. Dwyane Wade stripped him and that was all she wrote.

There were a lot of things the Bobcats could have done better to put themselves in a situation to win. One of those is Kemba Walker needs to SLOW. DOWN. Clifford needs to talk to Walker after tonight and tell him that he doesn't need to run one thousand miles per hour at all times. There were a  lot of situations that the Bobcats may have had a chance to convert had Walker just slowed down a little. Maybe it's nerves and inexperience or maybe he's just trying to do too much. Either way, Walker needs to slow down.

All of that said, Walker still had a good game. When he wasn't going too fast, he was managing the game very well. The Heat only forced 2 turnovers out of him and he had 8 assists. Despite Walker's 5-for-18 shooting, he did go 4-for-9 from long range and finished with 16 points. Not bad for a guy that was getting harassed by the Heat's stingy perimeter defense all night.

One final fact about the number four: It's the first number after three, which the Bobcats needed at the end. Bobcats are going back home in front of a loud Charlotte crowd for Game 3. Tonight might have been enough to show that they can pull out a victory against Miami back home in Charlotte.

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