Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 12/26/11
CHARLOTTE --- Whatever the Charlotte Bobcats did in the first half of their season-opener Monday night doesn't matter. It's what the team did after the intermission in its 96-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that is the lesson it needs to take moving forward. Charlotte trailed 52-41 at the half and by 14 points early in the third quarter, but the home team then got defensive, infused by the simple nature of making a few shots. It pounded the glass harder, defended better on the ball and getting in passing lanes. And it continued making shots. Bobcats coach Paul Silas stressed throughout training camp to shoot the ball when open, regardless of the player. Everyone has a green light. Players were pump-faking and passing in the first half, but after the intermission they were more assertive. They began shooting the ball, and the ball began to fall through the cylinder. And when shots start dropping, even NBA players pick up their overall intensity just like at every other level of the game. This helped trigger the key stretch in Charlotte's victory, as the Bobcats closed the third quarter on a 21-5 run. The Bobcats started making shots, but they did just about everything else right, too. DeSagana Diop, who started the second half but not the game, flexed his muscles under the Milwaukee Bucks' basket and D.J. Augustin got things going on the other end of the court. A pair of 3-pointers and a runner by Augustin along with a 3-ball by Gerald Henderson were followed by a series of runners after defensive stops, and suddenly Charlotte was in the lead. Amidst the increasing roar from the crowd as Charlotte caught and surpassed Milwaukee was a sequence where Bucks' forward Drew Gooden was ejected from the game after a flagrant II foul when he clobbered Henderson, who was going in for an open-court slam. The silly play by Gooden signified the visitors' frustration because everything was going the Bobcats' way. "We just needed to score some points," Henderson said. "We practiced all training camp on pushing the ball and getting easy buckets but weren't doing that. We just needed to score some points." Henderson was right, it was a matter of shots falling, but it came from multiple players. Charlotte went to its bench without much of a drop off. From Byron Mullens' career-high 10 points to rookie Kemba Walker's 13-point, seven-assist, three-assist effort, this was a team-wide effort. And the Bobcats know it will require different guys stepping up to help the regulars on different nights. This team isn't talented enough to ride a few ponies every game, they need a variety of horses. Henderson is comfortable going to the reserves. "We have a lot of confidence in everybody and the guys off the bench really came in and stepped up," he said. Charlotte held Milwaukee big man Andrew Bogut to just three second-half points and outrebounded the Bucks, 52-39. The hoops universe said the Bobcats would get hammered every night around the rim and didn't have the scoring punch to make a splash this winter. It's just one game, but 48 minutes into the season, and the Bobcats displayed the opposite Monday night. And given the team's youth, the lessons learned were invaluable. "It's huge because we have so any young guys, and they have to learn and you have to be patient with them," Silas said. "That's what I've done, but they really work hard, and that's the key. They work hard in practice, and it will just have to come."
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