The raw numbers alone are less than striking: The Charlotte Bobcats average 3.4 fewer points in the third quarter than their opponents.
But the players know better. For some reason, the Bobcats become listless and mistake-prone in the third quarter in a way that has handicapped them all season.
The final nine minutes of the third quarter Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers burned through all of the Bobcats' 14-point lead. That was good for a 102-94 victory in a game the Bobcats lost more than the Cavaliers won.
"No doubt I feel we should have won that game," said forward D.J. White (15 points and five rebounds). "Down the stretch there were so many plays we didn't make."
The third quarter - Cleveland won it, 33-20 - fell apart at the foul line, where the Bobcats made just four of 10 attempts (14-of-26 overall). Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown each missed two free throws in that span.
But that wasn't the only flaw: After shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half, the Bobcats shot 32 percent in the third. Kemba Walker was 4-of-10 from the field in that quarter, taking nearly half the Bobcats' attempts.
Walker, inserted as a starter two games ago, is shooting 38 percent for the season.
"Mostly, it's OK," coach Paul Silas said when asked about Walker's shot selection. "Some (shots), like everybody else's, are not good. It's his 13th or 14th game, and he's still got to learn."
Fellow guard D.J. Augustin finished with 24 points and eight assists. But that just matched the performance of Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving. The former Duke star and No. 1 overall pick finished with 25 points and seven assists.
"In the third quarter, we just lost our energy," Augustin said. "That's been our biggest struggle - getting through the third quarter."
Charlottean Antawn Jamison finished with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting for Cleveland.
Bobcats power forward Tyrus Thomas all but vanished Monday (one point and one rebound, 0-of-3 from the field), making Jamison look all the more impactful.
"I want him to play. I want him to do well," Silas said of Thomas. "But it's up to him" to perform.
I'm told the Charlotte Bobcats have looked into extending power forward D.J. White's contract beyond this season. He makes about $2 million and would be a restricted free agent following this season.
The Bobcats had a discussion with the Washington Wizards concerning big man Andray Blatche, who is available in a trade. An informed source said the Bobcats will pass on that option.
Blatche is owed three more seasons at an average salary of about $7.7 million.
Bobcats coach Paul Silas told a story pregame about meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Chicago's O'Hare Airport when Silas was a player at Creighton.
Silas' team had just been in Miami to play the Hurricanes and on that trip Silas met Muhammad Ali, who gave all the players placards reading "The Greatest," Ali's nickname.
Silas had King autograph that Ali placard. Silas lost the placard, something he greatly regrets, considering its historical significance.
Silas told a story about playing for the St. Louis Hawks on the day King was assassinated. Silas and some other Hawks went to management, saying the day's news was too upsetting to play that night. With the team's blessing, the game was canceled.