"Well, at least it was competitive."
The above phrase is one of solace after yet another loss by our beloved Bobcats. Since Charlotte's 7-5 start the team has a record of 2-23. In those stretch of losses I went back and did my best to remember how the games went. I deemed 13 of the losses as ones that the Bobcats were competitive in (including tonight). The rest were the kind of games a large majority of fans didn't stay around to see the end.
Against Boston that was not the case, although in the first half it was certainly heading that way. Rajon Rondo was ridiculous in the first quarter scoring nine points, grabbing six boards and dishing out five assists. The way he dictated the game was remarkable. Kemba Walker on the other hand had a big opportunity to prove himself against one of the best point guards in the league. It didn't go well as the Celtics hounded him endlessly with double-teams, helping make Kemba struggle with his shot throughout the night. He would finish with just four makes on 16 attempts. The frustration was evident in the second quarter after Walker missed a tough shot on which he thought he was fouled (he wasn't). Instead of playing on he chose to stare down the official and walk towards him; a technical foul was called shortly after.
Boston shot 63.2 percent in the first 12 minutes compared to a lousy 28 percent for Charlotte. Down 28-18, the Bobcats settled down in the second quarter and shots started to fall in. Unfortunately, defensively they were still a wreck. Defensive breakdowns left and right. Wide open shooters, guys not helping on defense and just overall incompetence.
The Celtics got a big boost off the bench in the second quarter from Jeff Green. Green is averaging a little over nine points a game and against the 'Cats he eclipsed that mark in a quarter, although he wouldn't score the remainder of the contest. Avery Bradley also had a big first half hitting three treys. Paul Pierce, Bradley and Green all entered the locker room with 11 points apiece. Ramon Sessions had seven points in the second quarter and 10 at the break. Hakim Warrick (yes, really) had nine going into halftime and finished with 16 on the game. Still, Charlotte's inability to get stops resulted in an 11-point deficit after two quarters.
Whatever was said during the break must have resonated with the players. An entirely different team showed up to start the third quarter. The Bobcats were flying around and played with a sense of urgency. On top of that they were efficient; scoring on their first four possessions of the second half to get within two. Although the Bobcats would never lead in the game they managed to tie it for the first time since the score was tied at a bucket apiece off a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dunk at the 8:15 mark in the third quarter. MKG's dunk brought the score to 58 all, but the Celtics responded with a 7-0 run to take back momentum.
As opposed to collapsing on the road the Bobcats managed to keep the score from reaching double digits and get the lead down to six heading into the final 12 minutes. After Jared Sullinger opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a dunk the Bobcats responded with a Sessions layup and a Gordon jumper to get within four. It was the closest Charlotte would get the rest of the game as the offense went cold. The 'Cats went over four minutes without putting a point on the board. Meanwhile Boston took advantage and went on a 9-0 run that was capped by a Courtney Lee three that put the score at 87-84. Gordon would end the run with a three of his own, but by then it was too late for Charlotte to stage a rally against a veteran team on the road.
Rondo was the star of the game as he recorded a triple double (17,10,12) and had some jaw dropping plays in the fourth quarter to close out the game. It was as if he was on the court with a little brother in a game of one-on-one showing off all his tricks. The Bobcats leading scorers were Warrick and Sessions who each had 16. Pierce finished with a game-high 19 despite having an off shooting night. Kevin Garnett also struggled from the floor making only two of his 11 shots.
Charlotte has a quick turnaround and will host Indiana tonight. The Pacers come into the game 8-12 on the road, so maybe the home skid ends tonight? Eh, probably not.