Teams don’t often win close games by shooting 28% in the fourth quarter, especially the Charlotte Bobcats.
In their Friday night home opener, the Bobcats showed some welcomed composure and energy down the stretch against a projected playoff team in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Somehow, that led to a victory.
Of the team’s four fourth quarter field goals, perhaps none were bigger than the shots by Kemba Walker.
Walker’s go-ahead three with less than a minute left sent Time Warner Cable Arena into a frenzy.
Walker’s confidence hasn’t been hard to notice lately. After a timid rookie season, Walker has seemingly embraced being one of the young leaders of the Bobcats.
“What stands out the most about him [Kemba Walker] is his competitive spirit,” said coach Steve Clifford following the game.
When the Bobcats needed him, Walker was there. He stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Clifford wasn’t hesistant to hand out compliments after the game. Perhaps the least expected was his praise of Jeff Adrien.
That’s right, Jeff Adrien.
“Jeff Adrien was a huge part of tonight’s win,” said Clifford. “He’s a hard worker and he’s been great in practice.”
Adrien blocked a pair of shots that ignited the crowd. He played a tough, physical game and showed the competitive drive Clifford has preached about during the offseason.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 15 points and showed a confidence that wasn’t seen during exhibition play. Kidd-Gilchrist found his way into the paint effortlessly, finished well and was a spark for the team in transition.
Finishing games has been a nightmare for the Bobcats in past seasons, but at least for one night they had on a different pair of shoes.
It’s too early to make statement victories in November; the Bobcats have won their last two home openers in Charlotte. But hopefully this one is different
I’d like it to be anyway.
Here’s what publications and blogs are saying about last night’s 90-84 win over the Cavaliers:
- Tom Sorensen (Charlotte Observer): If you could script a home opener, this is how you’d do it. Up and coming opponent, close game, big crowd, loud crowd and the game comes down to a final shot and a final stop. As the game wound down, almost every fan stood, and the arena turned big-time loud This is a different time and perhaps a different Bobcats’ team. Fans came to believe, and why wouldn’t they?
- Ben Swanson (Rufus On Fire): Both team’s backup guards flourished. Ramon Sessions cut up Cleveland’s defense with his trademark runners and cutting layups as Jarrett Jack and C.J. Miles did their work on midrange jumpers and three-pointers. For the first three quarters the Bobcats’s offense was held up by their backcourt and frontcourt’s surprising versatility with McRoberts’ passing and Biyombo’s rebounding and, dare I say, scoring.
- Chris Manning (Right Down Euclid): MKG was very impressive tonight, scoring 15 points on 6-12 shooting. He also had 6 rebounds and a steal. Maybe he’s starting to turn the corner?
- Rick Bonnell (Charlotte Observer): I wonder if Josh McRoberts got word of all the praise he drew from owner Michael Jordan in the Observer interview. A Tar Heel praising a Blue Devil. And they say world peace is unachievable.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer (Cleveland Plain Dealer): The problem was that the Cavs made a lot of errors down the stretch of the third and then the fourth quarters. Cleveland was within 67-66 in the third and gave up an 8-0 run to Charlotte that included two uncharacteristic turnovers by the usually reliable Jack and the Bobcats held a 75-66 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Cavs battled back and tied the score at 84-84 on a driving layup by Miles and then let the Bobcats score the final six points of the game.
- Greg Pietras (Queen City Hoops): Another DNP-CD for Ben Gordon tonight. The team clearly misses Gordon’s shooting, but it’s hard to argue with the results, especially on defense.