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Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Bobcats: Observations

• Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel used the same term Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau did in describing the Bobcats’ defense: “Tied together.” I asked Vogel to elaborate. He said the help is always there in Charlotte’s defense, and they’re just as reliable in helping the helper.

Vogel said the difference between this Bobcats team and the three or four that preceded it is “night and day.”

• Speaking of the improved defense, two statistics jump out: The Bobcats allow the fewest fast-break points in the NBA at 9.5 per game and the second-fewest points in the paint at 34.1 per game. Bobcats coach Steve Clifford called transition defense his “non-negotiable” in the preseason.

• Former N.C. State star Nate McMillan now is an assistant to Vogel wih the Pacers. McMillan, who coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers, expressed interest in the Bobcats job before Clifford was hired.

• Defense is making the other team do things it is least efficient at. The Pacers turned the Bobcats into jump-shooters during the first half. That resulted in starting guards Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson shooting a combined 3-for-16.

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