Charlotte -- What happened here at the lovely Charlotte Bobcats Arena tonight was the definition of a bad loss. It's an 82-game season, these are going to happen, but considering it is now Spring and the stakes are high, I'd have to say this goes into the unacceptable category.
There was lots of crazy stuff happening in the final few minutes. And while I have staunchly defended the head coach all season, I have to assign the blame to him tonight. Here's why:
--The game was in total helter skelter mode with under two minutes left. Let me go over it in a long and winding fashion to illustrate what I mean: Up 94-90, LeBron James blocked Matt Carroll and threw the ball to Eric Snow, who rushed to the other end and tried to layup the ball up a against two defenders and he was swatted by Gerald Wallace, who threw a bad pass that LeBron picked off and threw to Larry Hughes, who was trapped in the backcourt with 1:20 left. STOP! This would be a good time to call a time out and settle things down. But, nope, didn't happen. Supposedly Brown tried to call a timeout here, but it doesn't matter because he didn't get it. Then LeBron threw up a 23-footer with 15 seconds on the shot clock. Eek.
--After the Bobcats scored to pull within two with 40 seconds left, Eric Snow was supposed to take the ball out of bounds to break the press. But Anderson Varejao did. STOP! This would be a good time to call timeout. Nope.
--Then Andy inbounded the ball to Sasha Pavlovic, who is the king of the bad turnover when games aren't even in crunch time. STOP! This would be a good time to call timeout. Someone, anyone, timeout. The Cavs had two left. Heck, Snow knew he was supposed to have the ball, he should've called one. Sasha turned it over three seconds later.
--I am not going to go over what happened after that, it doesn't matter. The game was lost right there. However, I am going to talk about what made a potential blowout such a tight game. The Bobcats went to a small lineup, which seemed to mess up the Cavs' sideline. Despite Zydrunas Ilgauskas dominating the game, he played just five of the game's last 18 minutes. Why? Make the Bobcats defend him. Also, the small lineup made Brown take Sasha out. He got one shot in the entire second half. Why? Make the Bobcats defend him, too. Drew Gooden got ZERO shots in the second half. Why? The Bobcats had no post defenders.
--With six minutes left in the third quarter, Brown put Snow in to guard Wallace, who was killing the Cavs. Wallace had just seven points the rest of the way. One basket came on a putback and one basket came in transition. That means Snow did a good job. However, by playing him the last 18 minutes of the game, Brown took Hughes off the point. This is what was working for the last for the last three weeks. So in crunch time, no Ilgauskas, almost no Pavlovic, and Snow at the point. No wonder LeBron was the only person who could score. And he was dominating the ball and dribbling a whole bunch again, not the dynamic way the Cavs were playing offense. Plus you lose Ilgauskas and Gooden's ability to offensive rebound. The Cavs had just five second chance points in the second half. Just bad personnel decisions.
--In general, I thought LeBron did a good job of taking the ball to the basket. He got 12 free throws and made 11 and got a bunch of layups and dunks. The Cavs had 62 points in the paint, which is good. What killed them was no one of the team could make a jumper all night. In the second half, no one scored more than six points besides James. This was old one-dimensional offense again.
--The Bobcats made a lot of 3s and a lot of jumpers, it was their night in that regard. They shot 55 percent in the second half yet I didn't think the Cavs played all that bad on defense. Also, I thought Wallace was great. His hustle on defense and his attacking of the glass on offense when he stopped going was difference-making. But all that could've been withstood had some better decisions been made.
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