The Charlotte Bobcats last won consecutive games in November. Wednesday looked like the night that would change.
A home game, against a beatable foe in the Detroit Pistons, following an impressive seven-point victory in Orlando … and then Greg Monroe happened.
Pistons center Monroe blew up the Bobcats in a 105-99 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena. Primarily thanks to Monroe, the Pistons scored 50 points in the lane, shooting 49 percent.
That left Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap remarking, “There wasn’t anything about the defense I was pleased with.”
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It was a bad night all-around for Charlotte’s big men. Byron Mullens nearly fouled out. Bismack Biyombo went scoreless on four misses. Brendan Haywood was little better, shooting 1-of-4 from the field.
And most any time Monroe set up in the lane, either for a pick-and-roll or a post-up, bad things happened to the Bobcats. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Detroit’s guards benefitted from all that attention to their big man. Brandon Knight scored 21 points before leaving the game with knee and ankle injuries. Jose Calderon added 17 points, including four free throws in the final two minutes that clinched the game.
“We missed a lot of (defensive) rotations,” said Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker, who finished with 24 points, but committed five turnovers. “We were not talking to each other, and we’ve got to get back to that.”
The problems guarding Monroe wasted probably the best game rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has had in a while. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a monster dunk in the fourth quarter over Monroe.
Kidd-Gilchrist struggled the past four games and that was reflected in his minutes. He didn’t reach 20 in any of those games and sat for long stretches of the second half in Orlando. Dunlap indicated after the game what will keep the second overall pick of June’s draft on the court.
“In spurts he played well – when he comes with good positioning on defense,” Dunlap said, adding, “If he can get us seven to nine rebounds, those can get him through the rough times” with his inconsistent jump shot.
As poorly as the Bobcats shot (40 percent), they were fortunate to be in the game late. It helped that they scored 18 second-chance points off 16 offensive rebounds. But when Detroit’s defense clamped down in the final minute, Walker gave up his fifth turnover, setting up Calderon for those final two clinching free throws.
“We missed some shots and we had some problems defensively,” said Walker. “Got to get back to what we were doing” against Orlando.