Another poor offensive effort dooms Charlotte, which faces questions of Larry Brown's status.
Sometimes the simplest answer is also the most revealing.
"They're better," Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown said, when asked how his team was swept by the Orlando Magic Monday. "They know how to play playoff basketball and we haven't figured it out yet."
Specifically, they never figured out how to score efficiently when an opponent raises its intensity to playoff temperature. That was evident again in a 99-90 loss resulting in a 4-0 sweep, the only sweep in the NBA's eight first-round series this season.
They had different flaws each game but it added up to marvelous defense being negated by ineffectual offense. Stephen Jackson - he of the "I make love to pressure" quote - shot 2-of-11 Monday for eight points. Gerald Wallace was sharper with 17 points and Tyrus Thomas came off the bench for 21 points and nine rebounds, but they could never collectively assemble enough scoring to win.
"The only way we can step up to beat a team like that is we have a (whole) group step up - not one or two guys," said Brown, who then addressed a report on Yahoo.com speculating he'll end up moving on to the Philadelphia 76ers to run the team and possibly coach.
"I think I've answered that for two months," Brown said, referring to previous statements that he won't coach for anyone but Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.
Having said that, Brown went on to quality his statement somewhat, saying he'd return to Philadelphia, where his wife and two teenage children live, to address their wishes.
"I'm going to figure it out," Brown said.
If he returns next season, Brown has to address how to make the Bobcats more functional offensively. Even with Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard in constant foul trouble, the Bobcats never ran an effective attack.
"If you would have said he'd play well under 30 minutes (per game) and we'd sweep, I'd tell you you were crazy," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
What that doesn't factor was the Bobcats missing 12 free throws Monday or shooting just 5-of-19 from 3-point range. Brown said throughout the series that his team became too jump-shot dependent, but the Magic made them that way by packing the lane in a zone-like defense. Jackson, Boris Diaw and Larry Hughes going a combined 1-of-9 from 3-point range gave the Magic no reason to change that strategy.
Still Brown praised his team for the consistent effort it delivered in making a first playoff appearance.
"When a coach doesn't have to beg you to play hard, to practice every day, to care about teammates," Brown said, "that's a pretty good thing."
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