Jazz 112, Bobcats 102

Utah’s big men stifle Charlotte Bobcats

Dunlap scrambles lineup, but Bobcats can’t catch up

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 10, 2013 

— Like a house with no foundation, the walls of the Charlotte Bobcats’ defense kept collapsing inward.

They couldn’t stop Utah Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap one-on-one, that’s for sure. Those two scored 27 points in the first half on 12-of-17 shooting.

The extreme measures the Bobcats took the rest of the game to contain Utah inside resulted in a barrage of 3-pointers. So the Bobcats’ 112-102 loss Wednesday night was all about a defenseless team.

“We were able to get baskets, but not the stops we’d need to even get it close,’’ said reserve guard Ben Gordon, who scored 20 points to help trim a 19-point halftime deficit to 10.

“We have to rotate (shift the defense to double the post) more than we would like to. That creates opportunities all over the floor. We need to guard better one-on-one, both the guards and the bigs.’’

The Jazz made 10 of 22 attempts from 3-point range, including five 3s in the last six minutes of the second quarter. That’s when Utah (19-18) spread a one-point lead to that decisive 63-44 halftime margin.

The Bobcats (9-25) have the second-worst 3-point defense in the NBA this season, allowing opponents to make 39 percent of their attempts. But as Wednesday illustrated, that’s as much a symptom as a disease. What had to be done to contain the Jazz in the post made it awfully difficult to defend Utah’s shooters.

Gordon Hayward made 4 of 5 3-point attempts and Randy Foye added 3 of 6.

“When you have to go double big guys, guys who can make (passes), who see the floor so well, they’re going to make the correct decision and it’s going to be a tough night,’’ Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson said.

Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap tried to shake things up at halftime, replacing starting big men Bismack Biyombo and Tyrus Thomas with Brendan Haywood and Jeff Adrien. Millsap had an easy time scoring on Thomas in the first half and Thomas didn’t play at all in the second half.

“We talked a little at halftime about how we were struggling – the energy just seemed down today,’’ Gordon said.

There was a surge in the first eight minutes of the third quarter with the Bobcats cutting the deficit to 10, but that’s as close as they got. Even shooting 52 percent in the second half to generate 58 points made this one only cosmetically better.

“We were trading baskets and that’s just not enough when you’re down that much,’’ said Gordon, who has now scored 18 or more in three straight games off the bench.

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