For the Bobcats, this was supposed to be a hellish road trip, and it's been anything but. After reeling off wins over the Kings, Suns, and Warriors, they got blown out by the Clippers, and then tonight took the Utah Jazz deep into the fourth quarter before succumbing, 83-78. In other words, they're doing far better than they should have been expected to do, even with this loss.
Andrei Kirilenko was everywhere, in both good ways and bad, scoring 13 points on 10 attempts, grabbing 11 rebounds, and also turning it over 7 times. For Charlotte, D.J. Augustin was the best player on the floor for long stretches, and he was the primary reason they were within ten points in the final minutes.
Game thread comment, lowlights, and highlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENT
Aznhobo -- Even though Najera doesn't do anything, we are +9 with him on the court. Maybe he's our lucky foreigner. (DA -- Cats ended up +17 with Najera)
-- As much as Boris Diaw's failures may stick out more than his moderate successes, I thought the tide was slowly changing, reflecting grudging acceptance of his production. However, games like tonight's won't help improve his standing. 10 points on 10 attempts, with only 2 rebounds and 0 assists in 34 minutes.
-- Neither center -- Kwame Brown and Nazr Mohammed -- did much of note while he was in the game, prompting Paul Silas to roll with Eduardo Najera alongside Diaw in a small lineup, albeit one in which everyone on the floor might take a three. With the two regular centers' total ineffectiveness on offense, Silas traded it for lesser defense, with Najera taking on the bigger of the Jazz bigs, but it was for the better, as the dropoff wasn't nearly as much as the production made up by Najera's superior fit in the offense. They combined to shoot 3-9 for 7 points, and 6 rebounds, in 32 minutes combined.
-- D.J. Augustin played an exceptionally solid game, scoring 20 points, dishing 7 assists, and even grabbing 8 boards. As noted above, he was the best player on the floor for extended stretches, most notably a long stretch of the third quarter, when he was scoring at will, dishing at just the right time, and harassing the Jazz point guards into choppy offense.
-- Eduardo Najera reached his ceiling, taking only 3 shots, for 3 points, in 28 minutes, but doing virtually everything else about as well as could be hoped for. He made his passes, set his screens, and played better than expected defense, although he was a total liability in crunch time, when the Jazz targeted him in the post. That's not really his fault, though. If Derrick Brown were there, you can bet he'd have been targeted.