Charlotte returned home for the third of five Buzz City nights and gave the West’s No. 2 team all it could handle before falling to the Spurs, 104-100, in front of a sellout crowd on Feb. 8 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Al Jefferson led the way for the Cats with 26 points and Gerald Henderson added 23 points in the loss.
In a game that saw 15 lead changes and 12 ties, this one came down to the final moments. Trailing 99-93 with 36.5 seconds remaining, Gerald Henderson converted a layup to pull the Cats within four and appeared to force a key Spurs turnover as he and Josh McRoberts trapped Tim Duncan at the top of the arc. Henderson got credit for the steal, but his pass ahead to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was intercepted by Patty Mills with 20.2 ticks left. Mills hit one free throw and the potential three- or four-point swing cost the Cats as they were forced to foul the rest of the way and Nando DeColo knocked down four free throws to ice the game.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The Cats were outshot from the field (46.8 percent to 43.8 percent), three-point range (38.1 percent to 37.5 percent) and free-throw line (85.7 percent to 72.7 percent) in this one, but it was their efforts at the line that would prove the most costly. The Spurs knocked down 24 freebies to the Cats 16, more than making up for the four-point difference… Charlotte kept pace with the Spurs behind another solid defensive effort that saw the Cats force 14 San Antonio turnovers which they converted into 16 points, swipe 11 steals – including a career-high-tying four from Al Jefferson – and block six shots… Kemba Walker impressed in his second game back from an ankle injury. After shooting 3-for-11 for seven points on Feb. 4 at Golden State, Walker posted 18 points (7-for-19) to go with eight assists in the losing effort, including 10 points in the third quarter… The Cats outscored San Antonio, 50-34, in the paint and 18-9 on second-chance points.
BOBCATS PLAYER OF THE GAME
It was another big night for Al Jefferson as he passed the 20+point plateau for the ninth time in 11 games. Big Al finished one rebound shy of a double-double (26 points, nine rebounds) and added a career-high-tying four steals to go with three assists and three blocked shots.
SPURS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Patty Mills came off the bench to score a game-high 32 points on 10-for13 shooting, including 4-for-5 from three-point range and 8-for-9 from the charity stripe. He had 18 points, six rebounds and two steals in the decisive final stanza.
The Cats finished with four players in double-digit scoring led by 26 from Al Jefferson and followed by Gerald Henderson (23), Kemba Walker (18) and Ramon Sessions (10). Henderson has now score in double figures in five of his last six games… With one three-pointer, Josh McRoberts has now made at least one trey in 10 of his last 12 games… Michael Kidd-Gilchrist grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, including a career-high six offensive boards… The Bobcats have now played a league-high 24 games this season decided by six points or less and are 12-12 in those games… The Bobcats were a perfect 5-0 when scoring 100+ points at home before taking on the Spurs but now fall to 5-1… Entering Saturday’s action, the Bobcats were giving up only 97.4 points per game, which is the sixth-lowest average in the NBA. They have held their opponent under 100 points in 32 of their 50 games this season, which is the third-most such games in the NBA. The Bobcats held 13-straight opponents under 100 points from Nov. 13-Dec. 6, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history and tied the longest streak in the NBA this season, set by the Spurs from Nov. 5-29.
The Cats will stay home to take on Dallas at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Listen live on WFNZ 610 am, the official Bobcats app or on bobcats.com. The game can also be seen on SportSouth and NBA League Pass.