After a good first half of basketball, the Charlotte Bobcats collapsed in the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bobcats are now 3-4, with the excitement of an early 3-2 start slowly diminishing. The defense is allowing 99.2 points in its last five games while the offense is scoring 92 points.
As expected, Al Jefferson was rusty. All of Jefferson’s 10 points came in the second half, where he seemed more confident and mobile. The Bobcats don’t have a feel yet for how to play with Jefferson but that will come with more time.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had arguably his best half of basketball Monday. Kidd-Gilchrist looked confident, moved well without the ball, and didn’t show any hesitation in his jump shot. He scored 14 points by half time, but only had two more points the rest of the way.
Kidd-Gilchrist has now scored in double digits four straight games and is shooting 60 percent from the field during that span.
The Bobcats schedule doesn’t get any lighter in November. They’re on the road Wednesday in Boston and Friday in Cleveland. The Bobcats then face a tough stretch against Miami, Chicago and Brooklyn, three teams projected to be championship contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The Bobcats are running into a lot of the same walls they did last year. While the additions of Jefferson and Clifford will help going forward, there’s still a lot of growth to be done with the team’s young nucleus. Talent, composure and poise aren’t things that can be accomplished overnight.
There will be times when the defense will keep them in games, and perhaps win them games. The last few losses show the team is still very much prone to losing due to a lack of ready NBA talent.
- Cody Zeller’s role in the offense remains a mystery. The Bobcats promoted Zeller as a stretch forward, but he’s looked nothing close to it so far. To his credit, Zeller’s effort is noticeable and he runs the floor well. Call it rookie adjustment, but I’m a little concerned. Right now, there’s more reason to use Josh McRoberts than Zeller; is that what anyone expected? Zeller went 1-5 from the field in 17 minutes with a couple of rebounds, steals and an assist.
- The Bobcats held the Hawks to zero fastbreak points in the first half and four for the game. The team’s fastbreak defense has been very good to start the season. Clifford called transition defense “non-negotiable” in the offseason.
- Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions combined to shoot 7-21 from the field. The Bobcats aren’t going to win many games when that happens.
- Hawks forward Kyle Korver has now made at least one three pointer in 80 straight games. That’s an incredible feat to pull off, even for a designated shooter. Korver entered the game shooting 51 percent against the Bobcats from three.
- With Jefferson’s return to the starting lineup, and Bismack Biyombo going back to the bench, Jeff Adrien was the odd man out tonight.
- If the Bobcats can’t find a trade partner (likely for $13 million in salary), a buyout for Ben Gordon looks probable at this point. Gordon has only played in one of the Bobcats seven games. Clifford favors a tight rotation and wants to develop Jeff Taylor. Gordon could have a lot of use to championship contenders following a buyout. He remains a big time three-point shooter and is capable of scoring off the dribble. Now that I mention it, that sounds like a player the Bobcats could use.
AROUND THE WEB:
- Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: The micro problem for the Charlotte Bobcats Monday was a complete inability to guard the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter. The macro problem was figuring how to re-integrate Jefferson into the team’s offense.
- Brad Rowland, ATL All Day: For the better part of three quarter, Charlotte outplayed the Hawks, but as the entire basketball public continually references, the NBA is a game of runs, and the “good” for Atlanta was simply better than the “good” for Charlotte Monday night.
- Greg Pietras, Queen City Hoops: It’s not a good sign for Charlotte that McRoberts is the only player comfortable taking open threes. It helps when he’s hitting them though. McRoberts was the best player on the floor for Charlotte, pairing his five three-pointers with seven assists.
- Carol Rogers, Atlanta Journal Constitution: After a relatively quiet first half by both Al’s, Horford watched Jefferson score three times in four trips down the floor to open the second half. Horford responded by dropping in eight points of a 16-2