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Bobcats hold on to beat Cavs 98-97, Jackson re-injures hamstring

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Cavaliers vs Bobcats boxscore

Fear The Sword

As I mentioned in the game preview, Diaw had to be the catalyst for the Bobcats to win, with so many players out with injury. And though Diaw hasn't been the most reliable player in the past in critical games (see 2010 Bobcats-Magic round 1, games 1-4), he sure as heck stepped up tonight -- as did a bunch of Bobcats. The end result was a one-point game for their fourth win in a row.

Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson led the Cavs, combining for 44 points on 27 field goal attempts. In more bad news, Stephen Jackson tweaked his hamstring (again) and did not return in the second half. It's such a weird feeling to see the Bobcats rely on D.J. White, Matt Carroll and Dante Cunningham to hit shots for the Bobcats to win games.

First quarter: This game looked easy early. D.J. Augustin was getting to the cup, the Bobcats were controlling the paint on offense through extremely good play from Kwame Brown (4-5 FG, 9 pts in the first) and Diaw (3-4 FG, 6 pts, 4 ast), and the defense was forcing the Cavs into a bunch of tough jumpers and turnovers. Hickson, who was hitting early, was drawn into a charge call by Gerald Henderson, sending Hickson to the bench early with 3 fouls, ending his first half. But with the benches entering towards the end of the quarter, Cleveland took advantage of their quickness at the guard position. A ten-point lead dwindled to two by the end of the period.

Second quarter: Picking up where they left off, the Cavs dissected the Bobcats' defense with quickness, getting into the paint with ease. To combat some scoring inability issues, Silas sent Diaw back in. Notably aggressive tonight, Diaw drew defenders and spread the defense. Unfortunate for the Bobcats, Garrett Temple seemed to be a far cry from his play against the Bucks. He was mistake-prone, turning the ball over a good bit. And what looked like an easy game early turned into a struggle as the Cavaliers began to pull together and flat outhustle the Bobcats. But Diaw remained a bright spot. Additionally, Gerald Henderson struggled much of the first half on offense, managing a disappointing 2-5 from the field. At the half, Cleveland led 50-47

Third quarter: With Luke Harangody guarding him, Diaw took advantage of his lackluster defense in the post. I've been advocating Diaw's offense on the block for a long time now. He's just always been so hesitant with it, deferring to teammates more than I think he needs to. But keeping the Cavs ahead was their shooting from range and an icy Bobcats offense. But after a timeout, the Bobcats gathered themselves and went on a 12-2 run to regain the lead. Diaw, Augustin, Cunningham and Henderson were particularly responsible for the run, with Diaw drawing defenders and making easy passes out to Cunningham for jumpers and Augustin distributing the ball and finding Henderson. The Cavs stayed in the game through Hickson and Sessions but with the Cats getting so many players involved on offense, they couldn't keep their lead. Heading into the final period, the score was tied at 76.

Fourth quarter: To say that the offenses struggled at times would be an understatement. For about two minutes, no team scored. It was a turnover prone couple of minutes but afterwards it looked like the Bobcats were close to pulling away. Matt Carroll hit a pair of 20-footers, Diaw hit a long jumper and D.J. White hit his usual midrange jump shot and the Bobcats took a four-point lead, 88-84. But then Sessions was fouled, hit his free throws and then Baron Davis hit a fadeaway 19-footer and knocked down a three pointer to put the Cavs on top by three. And then Silas subbed Kwame back in, allowing Boris to move back to his more natural PF position which allows him to have an advantage on offense. Getting back into his post offense, Boris outmaneuvered Hickson, working him deep into the paint for short baby hooks. With the game tied at 97 and about half a minute left, the Bobcats got the ball to Boris who drove and drew the foul on Ryan Hollins. Hitting one of two free throws, the Cavs still had a chance with about 13 seconds left. Inbounding the ball from the sideline on their side of the court, the Cavs got the ball to Ramon Sessions who got the ball upcourt but picked up his dribble and was forced to take a timeout, unable to find a teammate to pass to. Now only left with a couple seconds left, Cleveland inbounded the ball to Anthony Parker who had a last-second shot tipped by Dominic McGuire. And thus the Bobcats escaped with their now four-game win streak intact.

Odds and Ends

 

  • Indiana and Milwaukee both won, so this game was a must win to remain in the chase even if they didn't gain any ground.
  • On Boris Diaw and his aggressiveness - Boris Diaw is a thousand times better when he looks for his shot first and then looks to dish if he can't find anything. As one of the most skilled players on the Bobcats, Diaw has one of the most versatile offense skillsets with good range and an underrated post game. If he is passive and doesn't look for his shot, he allows the defense to focus on the other four Bobcats. But when he is aggressive, driving and posting up, he can draw multiple defenders and stretch the defense, leaving his teammates open. It's not like his passing ability has to go unused if he looks for his shot first and to pass second. The team's offense becomes so much smoother when Diaw brings his scoring offense first.
  • Stephen Jackson played 15 minutes in the first half. He tweaked his hammy with about 6 minutes left in the first quarter but returned in the second. Generally ineffective, he would tweak it again but this time not returning after the half.
  • Box score notables: Augustin with 12 assists and zero turnovers; Diaw with 11-16 FG for 26 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds; Henderson with 6-12 FG for 14 points; Kwame with 7-9 FG for 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 assists; Cunningham with 6-10 FG for 12 points (mostly open jumpers, also a nice weak side cut receiving a dish from Diaw).
  • No, seriously, Augustin and Diaw combined for 23 assists and zero turnovers.