Last Tuesday, the Bobcats miraculously blew out the Celtics 100-74. That game was an aberration of course, because it wasn't just a win for the team; it was a blowout win over a good playoff team -- the Celtics. But that game is in the past, and the Bobcats knew Boston was looking for blood in their second meeting this week.
One of the similarities between these two games was that one of the Celtics' veteran stars were injured and unable to play. Paul Pierce was inactive on Tuesday while Kevin Garnett was out tonight.
In my short time at RoF, I've noticed that the Bobcats like to tease me with first quarters that make them look like a solid team. Tonight wasn't any different.
The quarter started with Charlotte working the ball around the perimeter, which allowed the likes of Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to have their way. The main star in that quarter was recent acquisition Josh McRoberts, who didn't finish the quarter with an impressive stat line (two points, two rebounds) but was one of the facilitators who helped work the ball around.
Charlotte and Boston entered the second quarter tied at 24, but Boston quickly took the lead with the help of role players like Jason Terry, D.J. White, and Shavlik Randolph. Terry has always been one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA this season, shooting at 45% on spot-up opportunities, good for 21st in the NBA. He remained true to form tonight and made some key long-range jumpers. While Terry worked his magic around the perimeter, White and Randolph played like scrappy role players and outworked Charlotte's frontcourt players for rebounds and second-chance points.
While Boston's frontcourt was working for second chance points, Charlotte's backcourt duo, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson, took over the quarter by scoring 10 of the team's 23 points. It's not surprising that they lead Charlotte's offense, but it wasn't enough to keep the team in the game.
The start of the second half nailed yet another coffin shut for the Bobcats. The story of this half is like most with the team: struggling to rotate defensively. This allowed Courtney Lee and Paul Pierce to slither their way into paint for open layups.
The defense did have some good flashes. Some players, like MKG, played fine on-ball defense. The problem is that the Bobcats are still focusing too much on what happens in the paint, which allows their opponent to find open looks from the perimeter.
I really can't say that this game was as awful as some of the games in the past, because it wasn't. The Bobcats finally looked like a team who moves the ball on offense, and sometimes even looked solid defensively. Unfortunately, they were just outworked and outplayed by a vengeful Celtics team.