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Charlotte Bobcats lose to Indiana Pacers 101-77

By Rick Bonnell
rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

INDIANAPOLIS Short-circuited by turnovers in the first half and poor shooting in the second, the Charlotte Bobcats were thumped by the Indiana Pacers Wednesday 101-77 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The loss made the Bobcats 12-40, the worst record in the NBA with the league breaking for All-Star Weekend in Houston. Indiana improved to 32-21.

Former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough, making his first start of the season for Indiana, finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Byron Mullens scored 19 for the Bobcats.

Shooting betrayed the Bobcats in the third quarter, allowing the Pacers to extend their lead to 70-60 entering the fourth. The Bobcats made just four of 18 third-quarter field-goal tries in the third, generating 14 points in the period.

That 10-point deficit bloated to 20 in the first 4 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter. The bad shooting just got worse, with the Bobcats making one of their first nine attempts from the field.

The Bobcats trailed the Pacers 49-46 at halftime. They played a fine half in every regard except turnovers. Charlotte gave away the ball 11 times, compared to twice for the Pacers.

Many of those were the kind of careless, unforced-error turnovers that lead directly baskets at the other end. Rookie Jeff Taylor whipped a pass almost directly into the hands of Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough, who easily dribbled away for a dunk.

Hansbrough, the former North Carolina star, got his first start of the season, replacing David West (scratched cornea). Hansbrough made the most of that start with 15 points and six rebounds in the first half.

It was typical throughout Hansbrough’s college career to draw heavy contact in the lane. That was the case again Wednesday when he drove to the rim after breaking a Bobcats press. Charlotte center Bismack Biyombo slapped at Hansbrough’s face, and was charged with a flagrant foul.

Bobcats forward Byron Mullens had perhaps his best game as a pro Monday against the Boston Celtics, finishing with 25 points and 18 rebounds. That performance had carryover value, with Mullens scoring nine points in Wednesday’s first quarter and finishing the half with 13 points (but just one rebound).

This game was the Bobcats’ last before the break for All-Star weekend. They play again Tuesday in Orlando against the Magic.

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