CHARLOTTE — What did the coaching staff do about Gerald Henderson’s horrible initial shooting this season?
Absolutely nothing because they thought the Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard was doing nothing wrong.
“Every guy goes through one of those,” coach Steve Clifford said after Henderson scored a season-high 23 points in the Bobcats’ 92-90 victory against the Toronto Raptors. “His (slump) happened to be in the first three games. Everything he does (form-wise) makes sense to me.
“I’ve watched enough film of him, and coached enough against him, to know he was going to be all right.”
Maybe so, but Henderson’s 10-of-36 shooting was pretty gruesome those first three games. He started to get it together in New York Tuesday, scoring 18 points against the Knicks on 5-of-13 shooting. Then Wednesday he was spectacular, making six of his first seven and 10-of-17 for the game.
Henderson missed his last attempt against the Raptors, but all he really needed in that situation was to hit the rim from 26 feet. That beat the shot clock and allowed teammate Josh McRoberts to tap away the rebound and eat up the remaining two seconds before Toronto gained possession and called timeout.
This was the sixth straight home victory over the Raptors and the fifth straight home victory overall, stretching back to last season. The Bobcats are 3-2; the Raptors are 2-3.
After his team made up a 16-point first-half deficit, Raptors coach Dwane Casey elected not to foul on the Bobcats’ last possession, to try to regain the ball with more time on the clock. The Bobcats made only 17 of 30 free throws Wednesday, so there was a good chance the Raptors wouldn’t have ended up down four.
Was Henderson surprised he never went to the line at the end?
“I was, yeah!” Henderson said.
Clifford said he thought Casey did the right thing by not fouling. There was about a two-second differential between the shot clock and the game clock, after Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo blocked a drive by guard DeMar DeRozan and Charlotte small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed the rebound.
Clifford explained that with the ability to advance the ball to midcourt after a timeout, the Raptors would have had a decent chance to score without risking a foul.
Now the Bobcats are on a two-game winning streak heading into Friday’s home rematch with the Knicks. They can thank Henderson for that on a night when it was clear several Bobcats were fatigued or hurting. Point guard Kemba Walker (2-of-13 from the field) played with a left shoulder contusion sustained Tuesday night.
“I think everyone was a little sore from the night before,” Henderson said, “so it was important to get a quick start.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone through something like that, where (his shooting percentage) was in the 20s. But I shot all good shots – shots I normally take. So it just had to work itself out.”