SALT LAKE CITY -- Had the Charlotte Bobcats been as assertive as their coach was with the referees, perhaps they would have had a chance Wednesday night.
Instead, they were punked in most every way by the Utah Jazz. You name a want-to statistic -- second-chance points, points in the lane, fast-break points -- and the Bobcats were wanting in a 102-93 loss.
Coach Larry Brown wasn't around for the end of this debacle. He got himself tossed with back-to-back technical fouls with 3 minutes, 44 seconds left. By then the Jazz was up 12, with former Duke star Carlos Boozer bowling through everyone for 33 points and 16 rebounds.
If it's possible for an NBA team to cower, that would describe the Bobcats' posture. They have now lost four of five since the All-Star break, leaving captain Gerald Wallace (27 points and eight rebounds) deeply troubled by this group's focus.
"I think everyone is in a different place" from each other, Wallace said. "It's no longer 'team this' or 'team that,' it's 'I this' and 'I that.'
"Any team can talk about the playoffs, but the great teams go out and compete every night. We're losing momentum, we're losing chemistry, and a lot of things have to change fast."
Wallace said the road is the wrong place to call a team meeting, but this malaise has to get addressed by the time the Bobcats are back in Charlotte for Monday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.
They have a brutal schedule next week versus the Mavs (the team they've never beaten), at the Boston Celtics and home against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Wednesday they had a chance to break a two-game losing streak, up 11 at halftime. That lead melted quickly, and the Bobcats (27-29) looked physically intimidated. Best indication: The Jazz (37-20) had 20 second-half second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds. By comparison, the Bobcats had five second-chance points off five offensive rebounds.
"They outplayed us in the first half, too, but we were making shots so it didn't look so bad," Wallace said.
"They got every loose ball, every second-chance point and they must have had 50 3-point plays" off Charlotte fouls.
The most frustrating thing, Wallace said, was guarding well, only to give back the ball off the rebound.
"We'd play 24 seconds of good defense," Wallace said, "then BOOM! Tip-in! Another easy basket."