Save Money in this Sunday's paper

Bobcats 92, Grizzlies 89

comments

Charlotte Bobcats’ Walker takes over for Jefferson

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/23/19/d7JTd.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Bob Leverone - AP
    The Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) shoots as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Marc Gasol, right, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/23/19/1kdOtc.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Bob Leverone - AP
    Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson (25) looks to pass as Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol (33) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. The Bobcats won 92-89. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/23/19/6vpwB.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Bob Leverone - AP
    The Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley (11) gets around by Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. The Bobcats won 92-89. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/23/19/qE2lX.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Bob Leverone - AP
    The Charlotte Bobcats' Gerald Henderson (9) dunks over the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol (33) and Zach Randolph during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/23/19/18ijPT.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Bob Leverone - AP
    Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson (25) hugs Kemba Walker as the buzzer sounds sealing a 92-89 victory over Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

For one night Al Jefferson wasn’t Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats’ world didn’t implode after all.

The Memphis Grizzlies did anything and everything to make sure center Jefferson wouldn’t be the player to beat them. That resulted in a six-point, 2-for-13 night for the Bobcats’ first scoring option. It also resulted in a 92-89 Bobcats victory.

This is the Bobcats’ first four-game winning streak since 2011. Even more importantly they strung together those four victories over five nights against tough competition.

Jefferson fell below double-figures scoring for the first time in 20 games. From this game’s outset the Grizzlies sent double-teams at Jefferson the second the ball found him near the basket.

The Bobcats didn’t always react ideally to that defensive wrinkle. But point guard Kemba Walker (31 points) made good use of the pick-and-roll and hit all 10 of his free throws. And reserve Anthony Tolliver made three fourth-quarter 3-pointers to hold off the 31-24 Grizzlies.

So what do you do when a team is bent on shutting down Jefferson?

“Other guys have got to step up,” Walker said. “I was really aggressive shooting the basketball. So was Josh (McRoberts) and AT (Tolliver) got off some great ones.”

It’s easy to see why Jefferson would draw so much defensive attention: He’s scored 26 or more points in six of his previous seven games. But Bobcats coach Steve Clifford isn’t particularly concerned that Saturday will serve as a template for how other teams guard them.

“They have to have a (Marc) Gasol – not just a great player, a great defensive player,” Clifford said of the 7-foot-1 center. “There are just not many teams that could play like that.”

The Bobcats were outscored in the lane 44-34, yet still led this game by as much as 13 points. Clifford liked how his players eventually adapted in the second half.

“We almost had to play the way we did early without him,” Clifford said, referring to Jefferson’s November ankle injury. “He gave up his post game and screen-and-rolled.”

This victory made the Bobcats 27-30. They have climbed out of the eighth spot in the East, passing the Atlanta Hawks, who beat the New York Knicks Saturday.

One of the impressive things about this week was the second game of back-to-backs. They had lost eight of those in a row before beating the Detroit Pistons Wednesday and the Grizzlies Saturday.

“(Clifford) brought to our attention how badly we’ve played in back-to-backs,” said Tolliver. “Usually the team that wins those is the more focused.”

Now the Bobcats have a five-day break from games before a brutal four-game stretch: At San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Miami, followed by a home game against the Indiana Pacers.

“We’re going to have to be confident,” Clifford said. “You can argue we play the four best teams in the league, three on the road.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases