Jamison finished 0-for-12 from the court with just two points on late free throws in his Cavs debut in front of his hometown crowd in Charlotte. The new acquisitions on the other hand for Charlotte, dictated the pace of the game by forcing the Cavaliers away from their normal comfort zone in the paint. LeBron James looked uncomfortable throughout the contest as the exhaustion set in during the second-half of a back-to-back following a week of inaction.
Cleveland lead by five after the first quarter, utilizing strong outside shooting as well as a decent conversion rate at the basket by Shaquille O’Neal. Entering the game, many viewed the size of O’Neal to be a huge factor against the smaller yet quite athletic front court of Charlotte. In the previous three contests, the Cavaliers out-rebounded the ‘Cats by five per game while converting at a rate of 71.0% at the rim. Throughout the rest of the ball game, this would be the way the Cavs fell out of control and got dominated at their own game.
With the score tied at halftime, Cavs fans at least felt moderately optimistic about the team’s chances for the rest of the game. LeBron was doing all right and considering the fact Jamison already went 0-for-8 from the field, it seemed like things could only improve. That was a huge fault however as incredible defense of the Bobcats dominated the contest and turned the second half into a rout.
Armed with newcomers Tyrus Thomas and Theo Ratliff (pictured above against Shaq,) the Bobcats confused the Cavaliers in the painted area. For the season, Cleveland still leads the league with a +8.1 differential in the paint, thanks to allowing an NBA-low 35.3 points per game in that region. Charlotte ranks fifth in the league at +2.9 in this category, but last night was an entirely different story for both teams.
The Cavaliers were only 10-21 at the rim last night, according to HoopData.com, and in the end, the Bobcats doubled up the Cavs by a count of 48 to 24 in the paint. Anytime a team is out-scored by that many points in one particular facet of the ball game, it is going to be very difficult to win. This was one of the most frustrating contests to watch in a long time as evidenced by the various records set this evening:
– Antawn Jamison registered the first 0-for-12 in the NBA since Vince Carter did so back in December 2008. (Information via John Krolik/Cavs: The Blog)
– The 17 point loss was the most this season and the biggest in the regular season since a 29-point loss to Orlando in April 2009.
– The 54.7% Charlotte shooting was the highest allowed by Cleveland this year and the 39.0% Cavs shooting was their worst in a span of 53 games. (Via Brian Windhorst’s Blog)
– The 29 three point attempts were the most by the Cavaliers this season and in the three losses against Charlotte, the team has averaged 26 such attempts.
– The 47.6% shooting at the rim was the fourth worst of the season, and the team is now just 2-6 when shooting below 56.5% from this spot.
– J.J. Hickson finished with just six points. Why does this matter? The team is a sparkling 24-1 when he registers that lucky seventh point.
It really is not worth the time of recapping the game line by line to go over the various parts where Charlotte seized momentum. In the end, the Cavaliers lost by 17 to a team they have simply struggled against this season. We know that Jamison can only get better as he gets more acclimated with the culture and style of the Cavaliers and that the team will work harder on Sunday afternoon against the Magic.
Keep the comments civil about this game. We all understand that the team has lost the only two game in the post-Zydrunas Ilgauskas era for Cleveland, but the team still has the best record in the NBA and leads the East by six games. More on this later in the afternoon.
(Photo above via Jeff Siner/Chalotte Observer/MCT)