The Charlotte Bobcats got flustered when they fell behind the Chicago Bulls by double digits. Then they got serious, and slowly chipped away at the lead, showing the kind of resilience and professional intensity they'll need against superior opponents in the playoffs. However, it wasn't enough, as they lost to Chicago, 96-88.
The Bulls rode three players to any early lead; Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Taj Gibson combined to shoot 26-42 from the field. For much of the game, Gibson was the star performer, going for 14 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Along with Joakim Noah's 16 boards leading the way, Chicago outrebounded Charlotte 56-34, but the advantage they gained from that was nearly negated by the Cats forcing 12 turnovers and only turning it over 8 times, themselves.
Game thread comments, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
Stevarino -- You have to hit three shots in a row to be on fire. I don’t think Hughes has ever done that. Boom-Shaka-Laka!!
PanthersFTW -- At least with Graham Cracker, he knew better than to outshoot the entire team.
-- Stephen Jackson's hamstring is an ongoing concern. When he's at his best, he is swag incarnate, driving the lane, bombing from three, and a defensive tornado. But even when he's pulling his sucky-inefficient shooting routine (3-12 from the field tonight), his defense makes him well worth putting out on the floor. I wonder if the hamstring issue, though, is affecting his defense. Watching him play, he doesn't quite look the same, and tonight, he covered Kirk Hinrich much of the time and couldn't keep up at all, as Hinrich scored 24. It was telling that Larry Hughes was out there guarding Hinrich and jacking up jumpers during crunch time. Get better, Jax.
-- The Bobcats gave up 18 offensive rebounds. Ouch.
-- Tyrus Thomas spurred the Cats' 4th quarter comeback with defense, both spectacular and mundane. He had 2 monster blocked shots, and generally terrorized Bulls' offensive players. When he's alongside Theo Ratliff, it's almost impossible to get to the rim unmolested, and when he's alongside Boris Diaw, it allows the Bobcats to still defend the rim with a pass-first, relatively soft, center.
-- D.J. Augustin finally looks like he did for most of last season, shooting 3-4 from the field in 15 minutes, including a pull up three that, at the time, staggered the Bulls against the ropes. He's an average creator at best, but in an offense that, half the time, allows the point guard to simply stand up top and pass to a guy coming off a screen, that's fine.
-- Diaw put together a fine all-around game, scoring 18 points on 8-15 shooting, a team-high 7 rebounds, and a team-high 6 assists.