Defense in any sport is about making the other team try to score in the least efficient ways possible.
The Indiana Pacers are really good at making opponents look really bad. That’s why they’re 14-1. That’s how they beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-74 Wednesday.
The Bobcats (7-9) shot a season-low 31percent from the field. That’s no coincidence. The Pacers are best in the NBA in points allowed, field-goal percentage defense and defensive points per possession.
Wednesday they forced the Bobcats into being jump-shooters. That’s not going to win a lot of games for the home team.
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“They’re so good and so long that you don’t get any easy ones to get you started” offensively, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "So everything was pull-up” jump shots.
Not good. The most telling statistic of the night was backcourt starters Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson shooting a combined 6-for-32 from the field. It was like the Pacers were ordering the Bobcats where they were and weren’t allowed to shoot.
“They have long, strong defenders,” Henderson said. “Playing a team like that, if your jump shot is not falling, you’re going to lose.”
The Pacers are big and experienced. As Clifford described, Indiana center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West are the important combination of big and mobile. That limited the Bobcats to 26 points in the lane Wednesday, to Indiana’s 30.
Charlotte was outscored 25-19 at the foul line, where they normally dominate, and the difference in scoring from 3-point range (30 to nine) was gigantic.
“Every time we made a mistake, they made us pay,” Clifford said. “We’re going to have to play with great discipline to beat a team like that. We didn’t.”
This was the Bobcats’ sixth loss in seven home games. For whatever reason, they have a pattern of not showing up at Time Warner Cable Arena with the same energy and focus they do on the road. They complete will a three-game homestand Friday against the Bucks, a team they beat by 24 last week in Milwaukee.
For the first time in four games reserve center Bismack Biyombo played significant minutes for the Bobcats. Clifford had been using Jeff Adrien to back up Al Jefferson (16 points) at center, but Adrien couldn’t handle guarding Hibbert during the first half.
“He’s our best post defender, and by quite a bit,” Clifford said of Adrien. “Tonight, for whatever reason, he was a step late.”
Jefferson played his fourth straight game after missing much of the preseason and nine of the first 12 regular-season games with ankle ailments. Who the Bobcats are and aren’t is coming into focus.
“Our defense if very good. Our offense needs work,” Clifford said. “Al helps and as he gets into better condition he’ll be even better.”
PACERS 99, BOBCATS 74
Percentages: FG .381, FT .781. Three-Point Goals: 10-25, .400 (Watson 6-7, Butler 1-1, Sloan 1-1, George 1-4, G.Hill 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Copeland 0-3, Stephenson 0-3). Team Rebounds: 14. Team Turnovers: 15 (6 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Hibbert 2, G.Hill 2). Turnovers: 15 (George 5, Stephenson 3, Hibbert 2, Copeland, G.Hill, Mahinmi, Scola, Watson). Steals: 8 (George 3, Stephenson 2, G.Hill, Sloan, West). Technical Fouls: Delay of game, 10:38 fourth.
Percentages: FG .313, FT .679. Three-Point Goals: 3-9, .333 (Walker 2-4, Pargo 1-1, McRoberts 0-1, Taylor 0-1, Tolliver 0-2). Team Rebounds: 11. Team Turnovers: 15 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 6 (Jefferson 3, Henderson, Kidd-Gilchrist, Zeller). Turnovers: 15 (Jefferson 3, Walker 3, Zeller 3, Henderson 2, Kidd-Gilchrist, McRoberts, Sessions, Tolliver). Steals: 3 (Walker 2, Kidd-Gilchrist). Technical Fouls: Coach Clifford, 8:55 third; Delay of game, 11:06 fourth.
Att.—15,170 (19,077). T—2:29. Officials—Bill Kennedy, Dick Bavetta, John Goble.