The Charlotte Bobcats have been preaching the importance of getting off to a better start since the beginning of the season.
On Monday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, the Bobcats accomplished that goal and even went into halftime with a four point lead against the San Antonio Spurs.
But as the third quarter arrived, the Spurs were able to erase the Bobcats’ lead and control the second half. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (26 points, five rebounds and three assists) hit a running layup with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game to give San Antonio a 95-91 victory over the Bobcats.
Charlotte had a strong effort from their bench, which scored 40 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and had five block shots. But Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin shot 9-for-39 from the field, combining for 29 points.
Bobcats coach Larry Brown said it doesn’t matter who Charlotte plays when those three shoot that bad it is difficult to win. Wallace struggled most of the trio, scoring seven points, blocking two shots and grabbing two boards.
But Brown praised Augustin and the bench players such as Tyrus Thomas (16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks) and Gerald Henderson (eight points, three assists and three rebounds) for their play.
“He was 3-for-15, but I’m thrilled he took 15 shots,” Brown said. “He got six rebounds and tried to get people shots. Every time you think the game is over, they keep fighting back. We have to build on that. We have to keep getting these young kids out on the court, giving them opportunities, and I really believe that they’re getting better. We need everybody. We’re at our best when everybody’s playing at a high level.”
Everyone didn’t play at a high level, and the starters struggled in the third quarter. The Bobcats’ reserves came to the recue with 5:35 left in the third quarter. The Bobcats were down 57-62 when Derrick Brown, Thomas and Henderson entered the game for Wallace, Jackson and center DeSagana Diop.
At the end of the third period, the Bobcats’ reserves reduced the Spurs’ lead to 69-71. The Bobcats were even down as much as nine points with 2:52 left in the game. The Bobcats were able to cut the lead to 93-91 after Derrick Brown ducked.
The second-year forward made a great play because his dunk came after Thomas missed a layup before grabbing a rebound of his missed free throw.
“I knew when it left my hands it was going to be short,” Thomas said about grabbing the rebound to his missed free throw with 29.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Jackson, who scored 15 points, said the young players such as Thomas played great. He said the youth were the reason the game was close instead of a blowout. The young guys came out ready to play and did a great job tonight, Jackson said.
Jackson also gave credit to his former team too.
“They had a lot of open shots – their drive and kick game was perfect tonight,” he said. “That’s what really killed us, their open shots. We never could bounce back from that.”
The Spurs also received a strong performance from guard Alonzo Gee. He went 5-for-7 from 3-point range, scoring 15 points off the bench. Spurs center Tim Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 12 points and eight assists.