The Charlotte Bobcats entered Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with the third ranked defense in the NBA. Bu after taking one of the league’s top scoring teams down to the wire, head coach Steve Clifford still was not pleased
The Thunder normally average 106 points together as a team, but losing Russell Westbrook (was averaging 21.3 points a game along with six boards and seven assists) to yet another knee surgery Friday (the surgery will keep him out till the All-Star break) impacted their scoring big time as they were held to 89 points in their win against the Bobcats.
The Bobcats lost yet another close game to a powerhouse team (we all recall their one-point loss to the Miami Heat in early December) as they were defeated by a final score of 89-85.
Allowing only 89 points to the second highest scoring team in the league may look nice, but without Kevin Durant‘s right hand man Westbrook the Cats had a chance to strike at the heart of their offense. In the end they were unsuccessful on the night according to Clifford as he said: “This may surprise you, but I didn’t like at all the way we played”.
Clifford went on to reflect on the team’s “lacking” defensive performance saying: “I didn’t like our defense. Our attention to detail was not good at all. The things we talked about this morning that we had to do, we did a poor job with. We gave them baskets. Our effort on the glass was not anywhere it needs to be.”
In a sense, Clifford was completely correct. Though allowing only 89 and coming up so close to a top notch team like the Thunder may look good, the defense truly didn’t show its worth in this contest.
With Westbrook gone you would think Durant would need more players like Serge Ibaka or Reggie Jackson to lean on, but ironically OKC greatly leaned on Durant on his own tonight.
Durant was absolutely exceptional against Charlotte as he posted a double-double with 34 points to go along with 12 boards. The Cats were struggling on Durant as just like Clifford said they were “giving them baskets.” Durant literally insisted he could do it all alone.
The team had no answer for KD especially in the fourth (where they ironically had a chance at pulling away) as he outscored all of his teammates combined as well as scoring 10 of the final 13 points for the team. The Bobcats were also outrebounded 48-43. It just really didn’t look like the solid Charlotte defense we have come to know this season.
After trailing for most of the game Charlotte only trailed the Thunder by two with five minutes to go, and it was another final minute comeback situation for the soon to be Hornets.
With the Oklahoma City lead at just two with three seconds left Josh McRoberts was set up with a wide open three. If the shot was made it would have stolen a win from the Westbrook-less Thunder and put Charlotte back at .500. McRoberts missed the shot as Thabo Sefolosha was then fouled and then clinched the win with two free throws on the other end.
McRoberts was the top performer for the Cats in the Friday night contest. He finished with a near triple-double as he tallied 13 points, six rebounds, and an impressive seven assists.
The Bobcats’ next game is Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks (now without Al Horford as he was lost to a possibly season-ending injury) at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time at Philips Arena. The Bobcats now move to a record of 14-16 but stay at the No. 5 seed — man is the East putrid!