(Courtesy Lynne Sladky – AP)
If Chris Bosh had not scored 13 straight points for the Miami Heat in the closing minutes of Sunday evening's contest, the Charlotte Bobcats would have handed the defending NBA champions their 4th loss of the 2013/14 season.
If I had made a move on a girl I liked in high school when she actually felt the same way back, she probably would have turned out to be the first person I seriously dated.
Life is full of "what if's". Dwelling on what could have been does not change what is.
So, just like I can't change the fact I failed to act in my high school years, the Bobcats cannot alter the actuality that they lost to Miami 99-98 on Sunday night after allowing Bosh to produce 13 points near the end of the 4th quarter.
Read on and discover the unfortunate events which led to our Cats dropping their record to 8-10:
Following a 1st quarter in which the Bobcats were outscored 24-21, the ball club's deficit continued to increase as the 2nd period progressed. Eventually, the Heat obtained their greatest advantage of the game by acquiring a 40-30 lead midway through the 2nd.
However, these Cats were not prepared to fold just yet. As I mentioned, Miami's 10-point lead proved to be their largest. For Charlotte, the battle had only just begun.
In the final portion of the first half, the Bobcats managed to hold the Heat to 7 points while producing 18 of their own. Al Jefferson capped off this exceptional 18-7 run by swishing a jumper from the left side with under 1 minute remaining, and with no more buckets converted for the final 40.6 seconds of the quarter, Charlotte entered halftime with a 48-47 advantage as well as a majority of the momentum.
As play started once again in the 3rd quarter, the Bobcats picked up right where they left off in the first half, as the squad scored the first 6 points of the period and padded their lead with a 16-8 run. At this point, Charlotte was in complete control with a 64-55 advantage, and with both teams going back and forth for the remainder of the 3rd, the Bobcats ended up outscoring the Heat 25-14 in the period and entered the 4th with a 73-61 lead.
The final quarter initially began with so much promise: Charlotte lengthened their lead to 14, and with 9:14 left to compete, the team had successfully obtained a seemingly comfortable 79-65 advantage over the 2-time reigning champs.
But of course, much like what usually occurs with any sub-par squad (yes, these Cats are indeed sub-par); the quality play which caused them to thrive through the 2nd and 3rd quarters completely flew out the arena when they needed it most.
In the final 8:20 of the contest, the Bobcats fell apart and allowed Miami to post a whopping 34 points, including the previously addressed 13 point scoring effort by Chris Bosh down the stretch. Now, it's already bad enough that the Bostrich happened to be the player who ultimately clutched up and scored 13 straight for Miami. However, what makes this situation even worse is the fact his final 9 points came off 3 three-pointers converted in a 79 second span, with the last one giving the Heat a 93-91 advantage with 1:20 remaining in the game.
Before Sunday night, Bosh had never even hit 3 threes in the same quarter, let alone in a 1:19 time span. I guess miracles really do happen.
Just not for Charlotte.
However, despite the sudden shooting accuracy from someone who can be considered living proof for the existence of dinosaurs, this game truly was not decided until the final seconds. With the Bobcats down 99-95 and time winding down, point guard Kemba Walker was foolishly fouled while attempting a shot from behind the arc. As a result, the 3rd year floor general received 3 shots from the free throw line.
Like the rising all-star he is, Walker stayed calm and sunk his first 2 attempts from the stripe. Unfortunately, while the guard tried to intentionally miss his third opportunity with the Cats down 99-97, his shooting stroke proved to be too sweet and his shot tragically bounced in.
Unfortunately, this occurred with literally seven-tenths of a second left, the Heat subsequently emerged from this battle victorious.
Overall, Charlotte played well as a unit, as the team beat the Heat on the boards (39-34) and remained equal with turnovers (14-14) as well as points produced in the paint (38-38). However, while this squad did manage to shoot a solid percentage from the field (46.1%), they shot disgustingly from distance (26.7%) and allowed Miami to convert at a consistent clip from all over the floor (52.2% from the field, 44.4% from deep).
As far as individual statistics are concerned, Kemba Walker led the way for the Cats in this contest, as the 23 year old produced a big game with 27 points (10-22) as well as 6 assists. Gerald Henderson added 17 points of his own for Charlotte on 6-12, and big man Al Jefferson contributed a double-double with 16 points (7-14) and 13 boards.
Of course, to no one's surprise, LeBron James put forth an extremely efficient evening for Miami, as he finished the matchup with 26 points on 8-13 shooting from the floor. Chris Bosh posted 22 points to go along with 9 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade added 17 points for the Heat on a 60 percent hit clip (6-10).
Overall, the Bobcats managed to put together an absolutely exceptional stretch in this game, as they remained in complete control by outscoring the defending NBA champions 49-25 from the midway point in the 2nd all the way to the 9:14 mark in the 4th.
Unfortunately, just like I was unable to complete the process and secure the girl I referred to earlier for myself in high school, Charlotte was unable to complete the process and secure an otherwise well-earned victory over the Miami Heat.
Quite frankly, the 4th quarter breakdown the Bobcats endured will likely serve as one of their greatest regrets of the season. However, it can also serve as a learning experience: just like I will hopefully learn from my mistakes with women moving forward, Charlotte can hopefully improve upon their ability to maintain leads as the season continues on.