Despite leading by 11 at the half, the Bobcats stumbled into an inefficient offense in the second half as the Cavaliers recovered the lead and held off a Charlotte run late.
On offense, the Bobcats were stunningly good in the first half, save for Kemba Walker and Tyrus Thomas. Walker had difficulty all night with questionable shot selection, too often settling for the long two. Thomas couldn't find his shot and was not an effective defender on Antawn Jamison, who had nine points in the first quarter on five shots. He was good on help defense, however, in rejecting a couple shots from Anderson Varejao. But other than that, the Bobcats were finding their scoring spots well and distributing the ball.
And then the Cavs adjusted and the Bobcats did not. Charlotte became much more stagnant on offense. Cleveland was sloppy, turning the ball over 16 times over the course of the game, yet the Bobcats could not take advantage in the second half. However, the Cavs sure did, scoring 18 points against the Bobcats' poor transition defense off of 12 turnovers.
With strong play from rookie Kyrie Irving, the Cavs regained the lead, but couldn't put away the Bobcats without one final surge led by D.J. White. The Bobcats took the lead once more with a little more than two minutes remaining in the final stanza. But their defensive weakness in the paint and offensive quiescence would prove to end their game. Kyrie Irving sliced to the bucket and Anderson Varejao rebounded and fought for points inside to take the game back from the Bobcats as they put together simply awful possessions, one after another.
Though Kemba had an extremely bad shooting night (14 points on 21 shots, yuck), there were some good things from his performance. He showed some good awareness, finding teammates on the pick and roll and making some nice passes. On defense, he had quick hands, snatching four steals and even a pair of blocks.
On the flip side, D.J. Augustin had a much better night, getting wherever he wanted on the court much of the time, penetrating Cleveland's interior defense at will. His play kept the Cavs from getting too comfortable at any location of the floor, also hitting a couple treys for good measure and dishing out 8 dimes. Gerald Henderson quietly had a good night, scoring efficiently and looking to get into the lane more. He drew more fouls than usual, but unfortunately couldn't take advantage, hitting only five of his nine free throw attempts. Still, 17 points on 11 shots is pretty good.
Moving on, Byron Mullens is starting to try to do too much on offense. He's an excellent shooter in rhythm off a pass, but he often looked to create his own shot against the Cavs -- a bad idea against the stout Anderson Varejao. I saw Mullens attempt to drive baseline a few times. Not once did it work. He's a poor dribbler and turned the rock over a couple times too.
The bench deserves a fair amount of praise, with D.J. White leading the way, doing it the only way he knows how: efficiency. He scored 15 points on nine shots and snagged five rebounds, showcasing his jumper and some nice post moves. Derrick Brown looked good, missing zero shots, save for those that came at the charity stripe (boo). But he did rebound pretty well and attack the hoop.
Bismack Biyombo recorded a DNP-CD. I just don't get one iota of this. At this point in his NBA career, playing time can be like water for Biyombo. Maybe you don't think Biyombo will amount to jack squat. That's fine. But to deny him the opportunity to play at all and learn on the court is confounding.