Bobcats fall short to Utah, 110-102
By MIKE CRANSTON,
Instead, the badmouthing was going in the Charlotte Bobcats’ locker room.
A night after telling Utah fans he was sorry and posting on Twitter that there was “no excuse” for his play, Deron Williams was dominant with 23 points and 10 assists. His top-scoring teammate Carlos Boozer added 22 points and 11 rebounds, and the Jazz cruised to a 110-102 win over the lackluster Bobcats on Saturday.
It was a far cry from a night earlier, when Boozer and Williams had as many points (eight) as turnovers before being benched along with the rest of the starters in the third quarter of an ugly loss at Atlanta.
“It was one of, if not my worst games as a pro,” Williams said. “I didn’t like how I performed. I wanted to come out aggressive today.”
A couple of Bobcats were aggressive – in calling out teammates. On a night when Gerald Wallace had 30 points and 13 rebounds and Stephen Jackson added 18 points, a familiar theme emerged: Horrible play by their big men.
Center Tyson Chandler continued to struggle since being acquired in an offseason trade for Emeka Okafor. Chandler’s missed dunk helped fuel Utah’s game-clinching run early in the fourth quarter. Power forward Boris Diaw didn’t score after the first quarter and grabbed only three rebounds as Charlotte dropped its second straight.
“You look between our 4-man and our 5-man, we got eight rebounds,” Wallace said. “I don’t think we’re taking pride in our defensive assignments, personally. We’re not coming out and taking pride in helping our teammates.”
The matchup of veteran coaches with a combined 2,437 professional wins seemed to tilt in Larry Brown’s favor coming in. The Bobcats were 9-3 at home and off since Wednesday’s loss in Indiana.
Instead, Jerry Sloan’s angry bunch took it to Charlotte. Brown called his team’s effort “unacceptable.” Jackson agreed.
“You’ve got to look in the mirror,” Jackson said. “We’re all blessed to have this job. We’re all blessed to be able to take care of our families. I think we owe it to our teammates and yourself to go out there and play with more respect for the game.”
Sloan’s mass benching Friday meant Boozer played only 24 minutes and Williams 21. They looked energized from the start Saturday.
“That wasn’t even a loss,” Boozer said of trailing by 32 points to the Hawks. “That was something extra than that. I mean it was worse than a loss. We came back tonight and fought our tails off.”
Utah shot well early, building a 50-41 lead late in the second quarter. It was a familiar early deficit for the Bobcats, who rallied to beat New York on Tuesday and saw a late comeback stall a night later against the Pacers.
The Jazz led 52-47 at halftime, while the crowd was still buzzing from Wallace’s spectacular block late in the first quarter. With Ronnie Brewer going in for a fastbreak dunk, Wallace came in from behind and swatted the attempt into the stands.
But Charlotte’s biggest flaw, Wallace’s teammates on the front line, was too much to overcome.
Chandler’s blown dunk came with Charlotte trailing 85-75. Soon it was 98-79 when Paul Millsap, who added 18 points off the bench, drilled a 3-pointer with 6:53 left.
C.J. Miles had 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for Utah, which met little resistance inside from Diaw or Chandler.
Chandler didn’t have a field goal and finished with two points and five rebounds. Diaw shot 3-for-8 and had four turnovers.
Wallace, who has 16 double-doubles, was asked how to fix Charlotte’s problems.
“You tell me. Can you fix somebody’s heart? Can you fix somebody’s effort?” Wallace said. “That’s a personal thing. That’s something that person has to deal with mentally: Whether he wants it or not, or whether he’s up to the task to come out and competing with us every night.”
The Jazz shot 53 percent, but did get some bad news. A night after playing a season-high 15 minutes in his third game back from left knee surgery, swingman Kyle Korver felt discomfort and was limited to two scoreless first-half minutes.
NOTES: Brown thinks the NBA should keep only one list for coaching victories, not an NBA-only list and another with combined NBA and ABA victories. The first list excludes Brown’s 229 ABA wins before the merger. “That’s so bogus I always laugh about that. Does that mean you were invisible all those years?” Brown said before the game. “That’s the biggest joke.” The NBA Guide shows both lists. … Boozer’s parents and former NBA player Wes Matthews, father of Utah’s Wesley, sat behind the Utah bench. … Referee Dick Bavetta whistled Bobcats G Raymond Felton for a second-quarter technical foul.
Updated December 19, 2009