Basketball / Sports

Mistakes and missed opportunities haunt Bobcats

MIAMI -- Not long after Charlotte came up short in its effort to try and even its opening-round playoff series with the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Al Jefferson hobbled through the Bobcats locker room, sat down, and grimaced.

Behind him was the walking boot he'd worn ahead of Wednesday's game after straining his left plantar fascia in the Heat's series-opening 99-88 win Sunday. Ahead of him was the harsh reality that the Bobcats had likely just let one slip away and were the lone road team in the opening round of the NBA playoffs to lose both its opening games.

Making it worse? The fact the Bobcats had chances late.

With less than two minutes left, Charlotte -- which on Wednesday trailed by as many as 16 -- pulled within three. And with 11.9 seconds left, they came within one after Kemba Walker hit a 24-foot 3-pointer.

They had the ball late, but a well-timed Dwyane Wade steal in the final seconds helped the Heat secure a 101-97 win, leaving Jefferson and his teammates to wonder about missed opportunities.

"Just making too many mistakes, too many turnovers," Jefferson said. "They're a great team. They're one of those teams (if) you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay. We kept fighting and we're going to fight to the end. ... When you lose a game that close, you get to thinking about every missed shot you should have made. I'm going to have that on me for the next two days."

Along with the frustration of falling into a two-game hole to a Heat team the Bobcats have never beaten during Miami's Big 3 era, Jefferson left Miami still dealing with the pain of his injury.

He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but he told team doctors he felt the plantar fascia rip completely early in the game. The pain in his foot will likely still be there Saturday when the Bobcats host the Heat for Game 3, but as Jefferson has since the injury happened, he has every intention of staying on the court as long as he can.

Along with Jefferson's injury, the Bobcats have dealt with a spate of uncharacteristic mistakes.

Charlotte entered the playoffs averaging an NBA-low 12.3 turnovers per game. Wednesday, the Heat managed 22 points off 15 Bobcat turnovers.

"We played better in the second half, obviously, but we have to take care of the ball to have a chance to win," said forward Josh McRoberts, who was fined $20,000 for his hard foul on LeBron James late in Game 2 Wednesday night. The foul was upgraded to flagrant-two foul. "You have to give them credit though. It's not like we were just out there throwing it around to turn it over. They do a pretty good job, pressuring, trapping, playing their coverages. They make it tough."

Still, as disappointed as they were Wednesday, Charlotte's players say there's nothing to do but move forward. The young Bobcats -- whose roster features six players that made their postseason debut in the series opener -- say they're learning from every minute on the court and they're confident that can translate into some kind of success as they return home.

"We just have to learn from our mistakes," said Walker, who had 16 points Wednesday. "We're going to go back home, go back to the drawing board, we're going to dissect these guys as well as we can and get ready for the next one. I think we have a chance."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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