Trail Blazers 122, Bobcats 105

Charlotte Bobcats fall to Portland, lose 7th straight

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comMarch 5, 2013 

— The Portland Trail Blazers opened a 13-point halftime lead, then controlled the Charlotte Bobcats throughout the second half for a 122-105 victory at the Rose Garden.

It was the Bobcats’ seventh straight loss, dropping them to 13-47. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers (28-31),

The Bobcats played without starting power forward Byron Mullens for all but the first three minutes of Monday’s game. He developed a sore right knee Monday. Mullens said post-game he did not consider the injury serious.

Mullens said post-game he does not consider the injury a long-term concern. However, it limited his mobility, which caused Dunlap to shut him down quickly in Monday’s game.

“It was sort of buckling. I could tell in warm-ups,’’ Mullens said. “I couldn’t get a good warm-up in because it felt weak. It led over to the game and I couldn’t move that well, couldn’t cut off of it.

“Coach made a decision to take me out. I never asked to come out.’’

In Mullens’ absence, Jeff Adrien started the second half and Josh McRoberts got 23 minutes. He finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

“I do think it was the smart thing to do -- come out, rest it,’’ said Mullens, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. “At this point in the season, rest it another day. I’ll get some stim (electric stimulation) and ice, and I’ll be fine.’’

The Blazers led by 12 entering the final quarter. Dunlap said pre-game he was also concerned with his team not generating many free-throw attempts lately. The third quarter was indicative of his concern, as it took nearly nine minutes for the Bobcats to get to the foul line. Finally, rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got to free throws off a wing jump shot.

The Bobcats trailed 68-55 at halftime. Though their offense was better than recent efforts in Utah and Sacramento, their defense was terrible. The Blazers shot 65 percent in the first half and made eight of 13 3-pointers. Nicolas Batum made both his 3s off picks above the key and Damian Lillard hit two of four.

With Mullens out, little-used big men Gana Diop and Josh McRoberts got turns against the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson.

Along with free-throw attempts, rebounding was Dunlap’s major concern from the last two big losses. In those areas they were better in the first half; They grabbed 23 boards to Portland’s 19 and attempted nine free throws to Portland’s six.

But the defense was just awful, particularly against Blazers backup center Meyers Leonard. Leonard isn’t known as a big finisher, but he made four of his first five shots, several of those dunks.

Batum uses screens well, and he seemed to baffle Bobcats Kidd-Gilchrist. Batum hit all four of his first-half shots and Kidd-Gilchrist played only 10 minutes in the first half. Dunlap moved Henderson over to small forward, then played second-round pick Jeff Taylor at the position.

Hickson, who starred at N.C. State, is an unrestricted free agent after this season. He could be a worthwhile target for the Bobcats, as he used a variety of post moves to beat Bismack Biyombo. Hickson made six of his seven first-half shots.

The Bobcats were scheduled to fly home Monday night. They play the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

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