After playing a truly awful first half against the Miami Heat, the Bobcats proved to have some heart, erasing a 21-point deficit to bring the game within reach and even taking the lead with about 3:47 left in the fourth quarter. However, they would relinquish the small lead and the Heat held on to claim victory 95-87.
Notably, Gerald Wallace struggled all night while Stephen Jackson had one of his best games so far this season. D.J. Augustin played pretty well, though in very limited minutes. All in all, this made for the usual Bobcats loss: play up (or down) to the opposition and then come up short as the clock winds down.
- The Second Half – The Bobcats outscored the Heat 50-39 in the second half as the Bobcats tightened their defense and got more efficient offensively. Larry Brown went with the tall lineup, consisting of Shaun Livingston, Stephen Jackson, Derrick Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw/Kwame Brown. The Heat use a lot of screen to get their players open, By players, I of course mean LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Having every player 1-4 be interchangeable allowed the Bobcats to be fine with switching on screens at will.
- Derrick Brown – I was frustrated that Brown got so little playing time in the first half (I’ll get to that a little later) but he racked up a total of 21 minutes tonight and was extremely effective on both offense and defense. He played excellent defense on LeBron, keeping his feet on the ground and forcing LeBron into outside jump shots. On offense, he wasn’t exactly a dynamo, but he converted on two fast break opportunities, one of which was a three point play, and the other which was two free throws.
- Stephen Jackson – He was on his game tonight, no doubt about it. I feel like he can improve his selection from behind the arc, but I can’t really complain about four of nine. From the field he shot 12 of 24 for 30 points. He also played a big part in holding Dwyane Wade to 11 points on 13 field goal attempts and 6 free throws.
- D.J. Augustin – In his limited time, D.J. had five assists and an awesome zero turnovers. He didn’t shoot well (1-4 for 3 points) but he is distributing well and not giving up the ball. Some people are upset the Augustin wasn’t put back in the game in the fourth quarter, but I understand LB’s reasoning. Dwyane Wade was the primary ball-handler for the Heat as the game entered “crunch time,” which would have forced Augustin to be matched up against Wade. Being the defensive liability that he is, it would have been a huge risk to put him on Wade as opposed to Livingston who plays pick and roll defense better and allows the Bobcats to switch on screens at will, as I mentioned earlier.
- The First Half – The Heat outscored the Bobcats 56-37 in the first half. The Bobcats were sloppy on defense and couldn’t guard the LeBron James-led fast break if they tried.
- LB’s rotation – I had a couple of qualms. First off, Sherron Collins got four minutes in the 2nd quarter that I think should have easily gone to Derrick Brown. Sherron Collins is just plain not good. That isn’t to say he won’t ever be, but he just brings so little to the table. Yeah, he did a good job drawing that charge on Wade but I just think that Derrick Brown is better on offense and defense. I would have also liked to see Augustin get back in the game in the fourth quarter at some point. He distributes the ball better than Livingston at this point and he has much better range. And lastly, playing Gerald Wallace in the fourth quarter just seems stupid. Why not rest him? He wasn’t playing well at all and we have a game on Saturday as the second half of a back-to-back. I would have just let him get ready for the game against the Suns because he wasn’t being effective on the court tonight. I also think Tyrus Thomas needs to start in a game like this. His advantage on the glass as opposed to Boris Diaw would have been paramount when facing a guy like Bosh.
- Gerald Wallace – He shot two of nine from the field for six points and ended his game by fouling out with a little over a minute to play.
- Tyrus Thomas – As usual, Tyrus was decent and brought some energy off the bench. However, as good as he can be, he can often be extremely maddening with his shot choices. Too often he’ll take a midrange jumper over passing out or posting up. The most egregious error was a baseline jump shot that was just hideous. Other than that he was okay, scoring 9 points on 2-5 fg and 5-6 free throws
Some General Notes
- The Refs – I don’t like it when people blame the refs for losing games because I think it’s too often viewed as a crutch when most times the loss can be traced back to errors that the team made. However, the first half was just TURRIBLE. The Bobcats took four free throws in the first half while the Heat took 11. Luckily the second half was much better with free throws nearly even. As usual, the technical rule was crappy, earning Crash a T. Perhaps the main problem for most people about the technical rule is that the it isn’t enforced equally to all players.
Don’t get too upset about this loss, Bobcats fans. We shouldn’t cry too much over a loss to a team of that caliber, especially with a game tonight against the Suns. If you go to the game tonight, I hope you have a good time. I’ll be back in Charlotte in a few days and hopefully I’ll find some tickets and be able to cheer on our team. Let’s go Cats!