GREENSBORO — Just because you lost center Al Jefferson doesn’t mean you have to lose all effort at scoring in the post.
That was the message from the Charlotte Bobcats’ 89-83 preseason loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the Greensboro Coliseum. Coach Steve Clifford was upset with himself for straying so far from a post-up offense once Jefferson sprained his ankle a week ago in Kansas City.
The Bobcats trailed 50-37 at halftime. First three plays of the third quarter? All attempts at posting up shooting guard Gerald Henderson.
“We went half the game not trying (to post up), so they ignored it,” Henderson said of the way the Bobcats made defense easy for the Mavericks.
Or as Clifford put it post-game, “Whether Al is in there or not, we’ve got to post more.”
The effect of that wasn’t just a lack of points in the lane (28), it was also making it easy on the Mavericks to guard along the perimeter. The Bobcats didn’t score any from the 3-point line (0-of-7 for the game) and never took a 3-pointer in the first half.
The Bobcats were missing their best 3-point threat. Shooting guard Ben Gordon will miss the rest of the preseason, after flying to Phoenix for a procedure to relieve soreness in his right knee. Gordon is expected to be ready for the season-opener Oct. 30 in Houston.
Clifford seemed conflicted between not asking players to take shots outside their comfort zones, yet challenge the opposing defense from outside the arc.
“At any level you have to play to your strengths. A lot of our guys are good drivers. They’re still developing as 3-point shooters,” Clifford said. “Shooting is about confidence and rhythm. We don’t want guys taking shots that aren’t their shots. (But) you have to take enough 3s.”
Clifford said the three most effective offensive habits are getting to the foul line, getting into the paint and making 3s. The Bobcats have a knack for creating shooting fouls. They’re not quite as good at scoring in the paint (particularly in Jefferson’s absence) or making a bunch of 3s.
Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist seemed like one of those reluctant shooters Saturday. He took one shot (a miss) in his first 21 minutes before finishing 2-of-4 (for eight points, plus nine rebounds) in 27 minutes.
“I think he can play well when he’s not taking that many shots,” Clifford said. “Just shoot when he’s open.”
Jeff Taylor started out looking for a big night, scoring 11 points in the first half of 4-of-4 shooting. But he went scoreless in the second half, missing three shots.
Turnovers were a bigger problem than they’ve been previously this preseason. The Bobcats lost the ball 24 times Saturday, including two shot-clock violations.
“Turnovers should be a strength of our team,” Clifford said. “So I don’t think this is a problem.”
Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell