Saturdays 102-101 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves was an outlier for the Charlotte Bobcats on several levels, but the biggest was it broke a 16-game home losing streak.
That wasnt the only difference from recent patterns: Its not often center Bismack Biyombo scores or that power forward Tyrus Thomas plays.
Biyombo scored 10 points and made 4 of 4 shots from the field. That means he reached double figures for just the sixth time in the 41 games hes played this season. To say Biyombo is limited is charitable. His range gets iffy if he cant touch the rim and his ability to catch the ball in traffic is dubious. That creates problems in that the opposing center can often roam defensively without any real fear Biyombo will score.
Coach Mike Dunlap thinks Biyombos offense is still fixable. Hes encouraged that Biyombo seems more comfortable this season at the foul line: The biggest factor is when he gets fouled, Dunlap said. Now he feels like he can make free throws, whether he does or not.
Biyombo being at least respectable at the foul line he makes 52 percent of his attempts is important because otherwise Dunlap has to keep subbing him out between offensive and defensive late-game situations. Subbing out Biyombo greatly reduces the Bobcats chances for an offensive rebound, particularly with Byron Mullens out with an ankle sprain.
Thomas played for just the third time in eight games when he got 18 minutes Saturday. He and Biyombo alternated as the center in a small-ball lineup that brought the Bobcats back from 18 points down. Thomas continues to shoot poorly (1 of 6 from the field Saturday), but he grabbed six rebounds, a good volume for the minutes he played.
Thomas has been so far out of the rotation he was sitting behind Jeff Adrien, a development-league call-up. The Bobcats still owe Thomas a bundle: Approximately $18 million total over the next two seasons.
Appreciate the crowd: Dunlap applauded the home crowd for its patience through the home losing streak; the last victory in Charlotte was Nov. 21. Had the Bobcats lost three more consecutive home games, they would have tied an NBA record set by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1990s.
If you love the game and give effort, theyll come back, Dunlap said of Bobcats fans.
Small ball: Dunlap has used a lot of three-guard rotations, but never has he gone quite so small for quite so long as he did Saturday. At 6-foot-5, Gerald Henderson was the power forward for long stretches. It helped that Minnesotas Andrei Kirilenko is more a jump shooter than a post-up guy, but as Dunlap put it, Henderson showed his nasty side playing power forward.
Asked about being physical, Henderson noted, A lot of people say the NBA stands for No Boys Allowed.
Going with four guards Kemba Walker (25 points), Ramon Sessions (23), Ben Gordon (18) and Henderson (15) was the only way the Bobcats had a chance to score enough points to make up an early 29-11 deficit.
Dunlap doesnt want to make a steady diet of this lineup, but it outscored Minnesota each of the last three quarters.
Theres a threat of scoring each time down, Dunlap said. And it creates some offense off their turnovers.
The Bobcats converted 17 Minnesota turnovers into 22 points.
Bobcats on the road
The Charlotte Bobcats are setting out on their longest road trip of the season in terms of days (12) and games (five) away from Time Warner Cable Arena. Heres a look at the five opponents and how the Bobcats have done all-time at each of these venues:
|Monday||at Chicago||4-11||Bobcats thumped Bulls New Years Eve|
|Wednesday||at San Antonio||1-7||Spurs won game in Charlotte by 30|
|Saturday||at Houston||1-7||4th-quarter trap gave Rockets win in Charlotte|
|Feb. 4||at Miami||2-5||Groin kick at Ramon Sessions cost|
|Dwyane Wade a game|
|Feb. 6||at Cleveland||1-13||Kyrie Irving an emerging superstar|
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