HOUSTON All of a sudden whether the Charlotte Bobcats might hang on to a fourth-quarter lead on the road seemed pretty trivial.
There was Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, lying on the floor under the Houston Rockets' basket, holding his head with 10 1/2 minutes left to play. He had just collided with teammate Jeff Taylor, and the impact to his head and neck appeared serious.
Eventually Kidd-Gilchrist was wheeled out on a stretcher, his neck immobilized by a brace. He was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital to have X-rays on his injury.
The good news: Kidd-Gilchrist was talking and moving his extremities before being carted to the ambulance. Not much more was known in the post-game locker room.
"It all happened so fast, I couldn't tell what happened,'' said Taylor after the Bobcats' 109-95 loss at Toyota Center.
Based on replay, it appeared Kidd-Gilchrist's head collided with Taylor's hip or knee. As coach Mike Dunlap described, the two rookies "tangled up, kind of up in each other'' after Kidd-Gilchrist's attempt to block a drive by Houston's Toney Douglas.
Taylor stayed with Kidd-Gilchrist throughout the examination by medical personnel from both teams. Taylor said he was trying to console Kidd-Gilchrist as Kidd-Gilchrist talked to the medical staff.
"I was down there by his side, telling him it would be all right,'' said Taylor, drafted in the second round by the Bobcats in June. "Everybody was just trying to calm him. Obviously it was a scary situation.''
Just before the injury occurred, Taylor had made a 3-pointer to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game at 80-79. After Kidd-Gilchrist left the court the Bobcats extended that lead to five points with 8 1/2 minutes left on Ben Gordon's 3-pointer with just under 10 minutes left.
But the Bobcats were outscored 12-2 in the game's final 4 1/2 minutes. Houston forwards Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson scored 24 points each. Kemba Walker finished with 24 for the Bobcats, while Ramon Sessions added 20.
Kidd-Gilchrist has been quite durable his rookie season, playing in 45 of the Bobcats' 46 games and starting 44. If he's out for Monday's road game against the Miami Heat, Dunlap would logically start Taylor at small forward.
Filling in Kidd-Gilchrist's 26 minutes per game would probably mean moving shooting guard Gerald Henderson over to small forward some and using more of Ben Gordon off the bench.
That would make the Bobcats smaller and somewhat limit the defense, but Dunlap has gone with a small lineup often this season, using Henderson at small forward and occasionally at power forward.
Power forward Byron Mullens, the Bobcats' best offensive big man, said he anticipates playing against the Heat. Mullens has been out since before Christmas with a severely sprained left ankle.