RALEIGH From the day he was introduced as Charlotte Bobcats coach, Mike Dunlap said this group had to try some things more established NBA teams wouldnt.
Tuesdays example: Pair point guards Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions together. It didnt beat the Miami Heat, who held on 98-92 for a preseason victory at PNC Arena. But those two, with 24 points each, made this a tie game in the final minute after the defending NBA champions led by 18.
Granted, the Heats best players were long gone during the Bobcats comeback. But it worked well enough to get Dunlap and the players imagining possibilities in the regular season.
He just threw us out there. For the most part, it worked offensively, said Sessions, who made 8-of-16 from the field. Well just have to see how it works going forward defensively.
This isnt something Dunlap would use constantly. But on a team struggling to score (and missing two of its best offensive options in injured Byron Mullens and Ben Gordon), it shook up the game for a quarter or more in the Bobcats favor.
My suspicion is that we will play with that combination a lot more, Dunlap said afterward.
Thats viable because Sessions is big enough at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds to defend shooting guards at least part time. Hes done it before, probably more than his recent seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Laker might suggest.
I played 2-guard a good part of the time in my Milwaukee days, Sessions said of his first NBA team. This is something I can do.
The advantage to this is having a primary ball handler on both sides of the court at once. That forced the Heat to converge on one, leaving the other to spot up along with various other Bobcats. It led to three wide-open 3-pointers for Reggie Williams in the fourth-quarter comeback.
We just pushed the ball every single time. Really pushed the tempo, said Walker, who finished 7-of-16 from the field. When we get in the lane, it gets them to collapse, and that makes it easier on everyone.
Still it wasnt enough, as the Bobcats are 1-5 this preseason. Big man Chris Bosh did much of the damage for Miami, scoring 21 points in 25 minutes on 8-of-12 shooting.
Mullens missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee. Gordon was scheduled to start but sat out with a strained right ankle.