When the night started, it seemed as though the Charlotte Bobcats would give the Indiana Pacers all they could handle - and more. By the end, the road team was simply trying to keep their composure, as the Pacers blew the doors off of the arena in the second half to secure a 99-77 win.
The Bobcats backcourt came out firing, particularly D.J. Augustin. Augustin scored seven quick points to secure an early lead for the Bobcats, and Gerald Henderson followed that barrage with a three of his own. Then the universe imploded, as DeSagana Diop picked up his first field goal (and points) as a Bobcat this season.
With an 11-4 run early in the second quarter, though, the Pacers managed to narrow the gap to within two points - until Henderson resumed the Bobcat backcourt domination with a stretch of six points in four possessions, including a gorgeous open look off a Diop screen that was positively Ray Allen-esque. A six-point lead at the half was built largely on the backs of Augustin and Henderson, who combined for 22 of the team's 49 points before the break.
While Indiana shot slightly better than Charlotte in the first half and managed got to the foul line at a decent clip, the Bobcats destroyed the Pacers on the boards, particularly on the offensive end. They grabbed almost half their misses (and limited Indiana to two second-chance opportunities), with Byron Mullens and Augustin, of all people, pulling down three offensive boards each. As a result, Charlotte took 11 more shots than Indiana over the first 24 minutes.
The start of the second half was Bizarro World for the Bobcats, as five of their first six or seven shots in the third quarter came from Diop or Boris Diaw. Four of the five were shots that the Pacers would prefer the Bobcats take, particularly two Diaw threes with time left on the shot clock, but a beautiful Augustin/Diop pick and roll opened the scoring for Charlotte. Unfortunately, it was the only Bobcats score in the first three and a half minutes of the third period, and Indiana took advantage of porous defense to get to the rim and take their first lead of the game since early in the first. They stretched that advantage to eight deep into the third quarter, thanks largely to poor shooting and stangant offense by the Bobcats. Charlotte was bailed out by a Mullens tip-in off of a Hibbert block and Henderson three-pointer as the shot clock expired before Augustin decided he'd had enough and buried what appeared to be a 28-footer. Augustin contributed to eight of the 14 points the Bobcats scored in the third; in related news, the team scored 14 points in the third to enter the final frame down eight.
As the Pacers locked in on defense - and make no mistake, much of Charlotte's inability to score in the second half can be credited to the efforts of Danny Granger and company - things got chippy; Henderson took umbrance with George Hill falling on top of him and hesitating to get up, ending with a WWE-style kneeling fireman's carry-to-suplex by Henderson. After another trip down the court ended in a rash offensive foul on the Charlotte shooting guard, coach Paul Silas was forced to remove Henderson from the game just when the Bobcats, down 13, needed him and his scoring the most.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. Jeff Foster realized it was time to feast, finishing with seven fouls (three offensive) in just thirteen minutes and earning a standing ovation from the home crowd. Boris Diaw fouled out with a 4x2 - two points, two assists, two rebounds, two blocks. The Bobcats continued to rebound their own misses at a decent rate but failed to turn those extra shot opportunities into points more often than not. The Pacers maintained their strong shooting night in the face of lackluster Charlotte defense, but the Bobcats couldn't sustain their total advantage on the boards; they grabbed just as many offensive boards in the second half as the first, but that was more a product of their increasingly cold shooting as the game wore on. Even Indiana's poor effort from three (2-for-9 on the night) wasn't enough to drag down a team that secured a victory on the strength of their defense and the lack thereof from the Bobcats.