DALLAS — The post-game chatter was as much about what the Charlotte Bobcats lost small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as how they lost in an 89-82 fall to the Dallas Mavericks.
For the second straight game they blew a double-digit second-half lead. More importantly going forward, they have likely lost Kidd-Gilchrist arguably the best defender probably for weeks.
Kidd-Gilchrist was diagnosed with a fractured left hand he suffered in the second half. Hell be re-evaluated in Charlotte Wednesday, but he left American Airlines Center in a cast, his middle two fingers taped together.
Kidd-Gilchrist indicated its the ring finger on his left hand that was injured.
I looked down at my finger and it was (pointing) the wrong way, said Kidd-Gilchrist, adding he isnt sure just when or how he hurt himself.
This is the fourth broken hand in about a weeks time in the NBA. New Orleans Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrists Kentucky teammate and close friend, has the same injury as do the Clippers J.J. Redick and the Nets Paul Pierce.
The Bobcats have one of the NBAs best defenses this was the 11th straight time theyve held an opponent under 100 points, best in the league and Kidd-Gilchrist plays a huge role in that. Coach Steve Clifford has often said his teams great strength is that wing players Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor and Gerald Henderson can guard effectively without needing much help from teammates.
Thats a big hit, Clifford said. Foul trouble has limited his minutes some lately, but hes been really good.
If you watched him from the summer to now, theres been a lot of progress since Vegas (summer league). He can be an elite defender in this league. Hes very bright.
Taylor, who never played in the second half despite Kidd-Gilchrists injury, likely becomes the starter at small forward. Anthony Tolliver played a lot of small forward Tuesday, but that was a function of the Mavericks playing primarily Shawn Marion at that position. Tolliver, built more like a power forward, isnt effective chasing around small, quick forwards.
Tuesdays loss, which dropped the Bobcats to 8-11, was similar to a one-point loss in Miami Sunday in that the Bobcats gave up a sizeable lead (14 to the defending-champion Heat).
The Bobcats missed some open shots Tuesday, but they also deviated from some of the things that built that lead in Dallas. They were up on the Mavericks 58-46 primarily by feeding the ball to center Al Jefferson (19 points and 12 rebounds) in the post. Jefferson was limited to three shots and five points in the fourth quarter.
Sometimes we tend to stop doing the things we were doing over the first three quarters, said point guard Kemba Walker. Im still learning, but I need to take responsibility for this.
Its the second time weve done this. In order to win in this league youve got to stick to the things that work and we havent always done that.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @Rick_Bonnell