Bobcats let one get away against Trail Blazers

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comDecember 4, 2012 

The Charlotte Bobcats blew an 18-point lead in the last 5 minutes of regulation, falling in overtime 118-112 to the Portland Trail Blazers Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 for the Blazers, while Ben Gordon scored 29 off the bench for the Bobcats.

The Bobcats assembled an 18-0 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. But the Blazers came back to tie the game at 102-102 with 22.8 seconds left on Luke Babbitt’s 3-pointer.

Kemba Walker missed an 8-foot baseline jump shot as regulation time expired.

Gordon (a franchise-record eight 3-pointers) was instrumental to that second-half run, making three 3-pointers in the space of 4 minutes to help turn a 70-69 deficit into an 85-70 lead.

The Bobcats’ losing steak is now four, as they fell to 7-9. The Trail Blazers improved to 8-10.

The Bobcats briefly lost the lead in the third quarter, trailing 65-61 with 3:31 left in the period after committing four turnovers (two of them shot-clock violations) in the space of 4 minutes.

Gordon brought Charlotte back with three 3-pointers the rest of the third quarter. One of those ended up a 4-point possession, as Wesley Matthews fouled Gordon as he launched a jump shot from the baseline. Gordon nailed the resulting free throw. The Bobcats led entering the fourth quarter 75-70.

The Bobcats led 54-51 at halftime, shooting 58 percent from the field. They led by as much as 14 in the first quarter, making 13 of their first 18 shots.

The Blazers have struggled to guard all season, allowing opponents to shoot 49 percent – second-worst defense in the NBA. Walker continuously got rookie Damian Lillard in trouble trying to guard pick-and-rolls, good for 17 first half points.

The Bobcats’ early surge was punctuated by a tomahawk dunk by Byron Mullens, thrown down on Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Bobcats’ lead shrunk quickly in the second quarter when Portland’s Aldridge heated up. He made all five of his first-half shots for 11 points.

The Bobcats got back captain Gerald Henderson, who missed the previous 13 games with a left foot sprain. Henderson played off the bench, but was effective in limited playing time: 5 points in seven first-half minutes.

Former N.C. State player J.J. Hickson, now starting as Portland’s center, particularly struggled. He missed his first three shots and played only 4 minutes before halftime, giving way to Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland off the bench.

Turnovers were a problem for the Bobcats at the half: Seven wasn’t a bad number, but they were the kind that led directly to scores, with Portland generating 9 points off those mistakes.

The Bobcats play the New York Knicks Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena before leaving for a Friday game at the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129

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