When it was all said and done, the Heat were just the better basketball team.
The Bobcats put up a valiant effort. They didn't play a perfect game, but they played a damn good one. However, by missing Al Jefferson to injury, the Bobcats just didn't have enough talent to overcome the Heat. Whenever the Bobcats would make a tremendous play, the Heat would make a bigger one. When Charlotte would go on a run, the Heat would counter it. Even the final box score, you can look at Kemba Walker's big game: 11-for-15 from the field, 4-for-7 from deep, 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Kemba even had three blocks! Then you see LeBron James had a better one with 31 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. Still, you have to hand it to Walker. He did everything he could to keep the Bobcats hopes alive.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the only player that could get anything going on offense was Walker. Gary Neal had a deceptively bad stat line, with 16 points -- but on 19 shots to get there. And he missed every single three point shot he attempted. Gerald Henderson, who struggled all series, struggled on offense and his defense wasn't enough to make up for it. Henderson's lack of floor spacing ability really caused problems for a team that struggled to shoot throughout the series.
Charlotte got fairly decent contributions out of their role players, but lacked the comprehensive scoring they needed out of everyone. Chris Douglas-Roberts didn't miss a single shot, including two treys and six free throws, for 14 points on a mere three field goal attempts. Bismack Biyombo added seven points with eight rebounds (four offensive), and Josh McRoberts had 10 points with five assists. But Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Anthony Tolliver and Cody Zeller combined for 10 points. With Jefferson on the bench, the lack of scoring from those four proved to be a weak point.
Meanwhile, the Heat got what they needed when they needed it. Chris Bosh dropped in jump shots that stopped the Bobcats' momentum in its tracks. Dwyane Wade was a problem in the post once again. Norris Cole and James Jones combined for five three-pointers.
And once again the Heat had a beneficial turnover differential, pushing the Bobcats -- the best team at holding onto the ball this season -- into 16 turnovers while only having nine themselves.
The Heat won the same way they won every game this series: suffocating defense, key three-point shooting and daring the Bobcats to beat them on jump shots. The Bobcats lost because they couldn't make enough shots and they lacked the inside presence of a healthy Big Al. One has to wonder what could have been had this team had Jefferson. They never quit and were competitive throughout the series.
While the Bobcats weren't able to grab the franchise their first playoff victory, they were able to change their national perspective. No longer is this team the punchline of the NBA. They showed on a national stage that they can compete and are heading in the right direction. The future is bright for the Bobcats ... err, Hornets.
With tonight's loss, the Bobcats are no longer the Bobcats. It's been a rough decade full of low moments and...okay mainly low moments. But still, it's kind of weird to see the name go away. It's a shame to see it go out like this after four consecutive losses, but they could have done much worse. R.I.P. Bobcats. Hello Hornets.