The Indiana Pacers scored 39 points in the fourth quarter to pull ahead from the Charlotte Bobcats in a 99-74 victory Wednesday.
Charlotte continued their fourth quarter struggles and were outscored by 17 points. Charlotte is last in the league in fourth quarter scoring at under 21 points, while Indiana is the league’s best fourth quarter scoring team with 28.9 points.
C.J. Watson had a game-high 18 points, including five of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Watson had made 6 of 29 3-pointers entering Wednesday’s game, before unloading six 3-pointers against Charlotte.
The Bobcats have struggled defending the 3-point shot this season. They now rank 28th in opponent 3-point percentage.
Al Jefferson, playing his fourth consecutive game since an ankle injury, led the Bobcats with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Bobcats have now lost six of their last seven at home and remain winless against teams with a .500 record or better.
Charlotte (7-9) shot 31.3 percent from the field and under 70 percent from the free throw line on 28 attempts.
Indiana is off to the best start in franchise history at 14-1. They’ve allowed 100 points once this season, in a blowout loss on the road to the Chicago Bulls.
SEASON OF GEORGE
Paul George is having a career year in his fourth season out of Fresno State. George had 15 points against the Bobcats, continuing a streak of 15 straight games this season with double figures in scoring.
George, widely considered an early season MVP candidate, is averaging 23.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
Indiana gave George a five-year, maximum contract during the offseason, to show their faith in George as the franchise player. George has a special skill set. At 6’9, he’s able to handle the ball, create for himself and others, and has range beyond 3-point range. Defensively, George is one of the league’s best. He can defend the best player on the floor and it doesn’t seem to affect his offense.
George looks like one of the league’s best players. While I’m always hesitant to crown a player a legitimate superstar, if George’s production continues over the next couple of seasons, he’ll have a strong case to be in that small, but elite circle.
AN OFFENSE WITH LIMITED UPSIDE
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t have a good offensive performance, but played exceptional defense against George.
Kidd-Gilchrist still has the potential to be one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, but the long-term question remains whether his offense will be good enough to keep him on the floor. Kidd-Gilchrist has raised his field goal percentage to over 50 percent, but is still scoring the same points per 36 minutes at 12.5.
While his efficiency is better, poor free-throw percentage and the absence of a perimeter shot are limiting Kidd-Gilchrist’s own potential, as well as the team’s offensive upside in the starting lineup.
Gerald Henderson‘s shooting doesn’t help either. Henderson is just 6 of 19 from 3-point range and shooting way below 40 percent on jump shots this season.
With Jefferson’s low-post scoring as the focus of the offense, poor perimeter shooting is limiting the growth of the Bobcats offense. Many will continue to ask why the offense isn’t playing better, but the answer is simply in the personel, rather than the scheme. Charlotte is 29th in 3-point field goals from the small forward position and 30th from the shooting guard position.
Right now, Charlotte doesn’t have enough to have a respectable offense.
IN THE BONUS
- Charlotte remains the league’s worst team in fourth quarter point differential at -2.9. Indiana is first at +5.7. Charlotte is -8 in fourth quarter margin in their last three games.
- Despite each scoring in double digits, Henderson and Kemba Walker combined to shoot 6 of 32 from the field.
- Cody Zeller went 2 of 7 from the field for seven points, six rebounds, two assists and a block.
- Bismack Biyombo played 11 minutes after playing five minutes in the past three games. Steve Clifford said after the game that the decision was matchup-based, as Adrien was struggling defending Roy Hibbert in the low post.
- Ben Gordon was the only active player on either team to not enter the game.
- Charlotte was outrebounded by 14 on the glass.
- Entering the fourth quarter, both teams were shooting a combined 28.6 percent from the field. Wednesday’s game was very much a defensive battle until the Pacers fourth quarter scoring binge.
ABOVE THE RIM
- Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: The Indiana Pacers are really good at making opponents look really bad. That’s why they’re 14-1. That’s how they beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-74 Wednesday. The Bobcats (7-9) shot a season-low 31percent from the field. That’s no coincidence. The Pacers are best in the NBA in points allowed, field-goal percentage defense and defensive points per possession.
- Evan Sidery, Rufus on Fire: Before Wednesday night, the Bobcats came in as the 29th-ranked team in points per game at 89.4. That number is sure to drop after the 74-point clunker against Indiana. Whatever the issue is, it needs to be fixed for the Bobcats to have any hope at making the playoffs this season. The defense will be there for them on most nights, but they have to fix that achilles heel of an offense sometime soon.
- Stephen Ajamie, Always Miller Time: This game might as well put everyone to sleep at the rate it was going. Double lane violation was called, which resulted in a jump ball. Delay of games were being called, which resulted in some free throws. That third quarter lasted forever, forever, forever. Do we need to talk about the shooting, which at one point was around 30% for BOTH teams?
- Nathan S., Indy Cornrows: While Indiana’s league leading defense shutting down an anemic Bobcats offense isn’t a big surprise, Indiana struggling to break through Charlotte’s defense might be. But Charlotte has been a solid defensive team this season, finding themselves in the top 10 for opponent FG% and defensive rating.