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Basketball / Sports

Nets rout Bobcats as NBA enters lull for All-Star weekend

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- A few minutes after his team routed the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson issued a public warning to his teammates.

"We've got to make sure that All-Star break starts at 10 or 11 o'clock (Wednesday night). Not 7 o'clock," Jefferson said.

Turns out Jefferson's plea to finish the week strong didn't take. The Bobcats fell behind by as much as 27 points in the second half to lose to the Brooklyn Nets 105-89 at Barclays Center.

They now enter the All-Star break 23-27, having squandered the chance to make up ground on the Nets (24-29). This was a game between peers, but it sure didn't look like that after halftime.

The key statistic was probably points-off-opponent-turnovers. Late in this game the Nets had converted 10 Bobcats turnovers into 18 Brooklyn points. Meanwhile the Bobcats had scored eight points off four Nets turnovers.

Coach Steve Clifford frequently has said his team needs to be on the plus side of giveaway/takeaway because the offense is so limited this season.

"Our turnovers were just awful. We're not the type of team that can play without energy and just have somebody hit four 3s to get us back in it," Clifford said.

"At the start of the second half our starting group had no focus, no energy, no concentration.

"One thing about (the Nets): They have a bunch of guys who've played in big games. We don't."

The Bobcats got 16 points from point guard Kemba Walker. Jefferson went scoreless after halftime, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nets got 25 points from Paul Pierce.

The Bobcats trailed the Nets 50-44 at halftime, giving up 46 percent shooting in the first.

The Bobcats got a slow start, trailing by nine early. But then Jefferson got hot, finishing the first quarter with 11 points and five rebounds, to close the deficit to two.

The Nets have been hot of late, winning 12 of their last 17. Part of that has been getting some bodies back from injury, but they've also adjusted to the loss of center Brook Lopez, out for the season with a broken foot.

Rather than try to run a conventional lineup, rookie coach Jason Kidd decided to go small to get his best five on the floor together. That meant starting both Joe Johnson and Pierce in the frontcourt; Brooklyn has no true power forward among the starters.

So Bobcats power forward Josh McRoberts opened the game guarding Pierce, who scored nine first-quarter points.

This alignment moves Kevin Garnett back to the center spot he mostly played in Boston of late before the trade to the Nets. Garnett is no longer the offensive force he once was, but he did a decent job of containing Jefferson, who finished the half with 12 points off 5-of-11 shooting. No other Bobcat reached double figures in the first half, with McRoberts scoring eight.

It's usually pretty telling the Bobcats will have a rough scoring night when the three perimeter starters shoot poorly. Walker, shooting guard Gerald Henderson and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist combined to shoot 4-of-14 from the field before halftime.

Walker played, and started, despite leaving the Mavericks game in the fourth quarter with tightness in his left Achilles tendon. Clifford said pre-game that Walker's new ailment appeared to be a byproduct of his recent left ankle sprain.

The Bobcats now have five days off from games until next week's home-and-home series against the Detroit Pistons, the team that's chased them of late for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

(c)2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

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