Bobcats Chronicles

How a young NBA franchise gets it going

Recap: Bobcats 110 Cavaliers 93 – Thanks for coming, Tyrus!

Posted by Sup on February 20, 2010

Boxscore Recap

The defeat at the hands of the Nets was a bit much for me. I started writing up the recap, but I was so disgusted by the effort, I just gave up on it. The team looked flat, uninspired and if not hopeless, at least helpless.

Then came the NBA trading deadline. The big move of bringing in Tyrus Thomas from the Bulls and the smaller move to bring in Theo Ratliff from the Spurs barely ranked on the radar of major sports outlets. There was certainly none of the minute analysis afforded the New York Knicks acquiring Tracy McGrady and his expiring contract. But the moves filled needs: a backup power forward and a 10-12 minutes a night center while Nazr Mohammed gingerly moves through back spasms, Tyson Chandler is idled again by his balky lower extremities, and Gana Diop is shelved with a knee injury.

And oh, how they paid off this night.

Granted, the Cavaliers were coming off a difficult loss at Denver. LeBron James put up a majestic 43 point 12 rebound 15 assist triple double before getting burned by Carmelo Anthony for the final shot, and was probably gassed himself. Plus, the Cavs were working their own new acquisition into the rotation, Antawn Jamison. There are available and plausible excuses for this particular outcome.

I don’t think the Bobcats really care.

Stephen Jackson put up his traditional 20+ point night (29 on 9-17 from the field and 8 rebounds), Gerald Wallace  played the all around game (17 points, 8 rebounds), and Boris Diaw was a mobile dangerous presence (18 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists). But this night belonged to the newcomer Tyrus Thomas, and even to a lesser extent Ratliff.

Thomas used his 25 minutes off the bench to record 9 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. He completely dominated the middle defensively, rejecting layups, jumpshots, whatever the Cavs could bring. He dove out of bounds to save at least 3 balls, though they didn’t end up going Charlotte’s way on at least two of them. He was energy given a human shape. And in his 18 minutes, Ratliff didn’t score, but he grabbed 5 rebounds and rejected to shots.

Without any proven way to score in the paint, and suddenly lacking Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ 18 footer, the Cavs relied heavily on the 3. They attempted 29 threes, making 12 of them. The key: most of the makes were in the first half. When the second half rolled around, the tired legs from the traveling and active hands from the Bobcats took the three pointers away, and the Cavs dug themselves a 14 point hole in the third period they would never be able to close.

The most spectacular play of the night was not by Thomas, but by Raymond Felton and Wallace. As James was attempting to get set up in the offense at the 6:35 mark in the third, Felton skipped around him and tipped the ball free along the sideline, tossing it high to Wallace near the half court line. Wallace returned the pass, then went up high for the alley oop dunk over Mo Williams, courtesy of Felton.

Plays like this and all the hustle plays by the ‘Cats made this one a laugher, as they went up by as many as 18 points in the fourth. Jamison, the big trade catch of the Cavaliers, went 0-12 in his debut (thanks for that fantasy trade, Gene…’preciate it. Man I suck.) and scored all of two points from the free throw line.

Even the normally dour Larry Brown was laughing and smiling in his postgame gaggle, which I don’t remember happening in the last month or so. And what could he complain about? They didn’t force nearly as many turnovers as they would like (9), turned the ball over themselves too much (14). But after a month of shaky performances, a coach can relax after beating up the Easter Conference leaders.

Thomas was playing on energy and hustle; he himself said the playbook went out the window once he got on the court. And though that sounds charming for a successful first night, he’s going to have to buckle down and get into the offense in the next few weeks. Really, though, we could not have hoped for a better debut.

‘Cat of the Night – Tyrus Thomas blasts into Charlotte with a near double double and changes the face of their defense with 6 blocks, including a lefty block that resulted in him getting jaw jacked by Anderson Varejao.

Stat of the Night – -2. That was King James’ plus/minus at the end of the game. The Bobcats thoroughly dominated the second half, and James’ numbers reflect that.

Notable Notables

  • The Bobcats and the Nuggets are the only two teams in the league to take a season series from the Cavaliers.
  • D.J. Augustin looked like he was a free man. He scored his 12 points from close in, mid range (a great drive to the basket when he spun back out, driving Shaquille O’Neill under the basket and nailing a 17 foot jumper) and from distance, with a buzzer beating 3 at the end of the third.
  • Jamison came off the bench and never looked comfortable. The shots he missed were shots he clearly can make, but he had been struggling over the last few games with the Wizards anyway. He has only scored in double figures twice in the month of February.
  • It is possible to overvalue what Thomas and Ratliff did last night. But it is undeniable that the energy they played with made this team look like the one that ripped off the long home winning streak in December and January. Now if that energy can generate more turnovers for their opponents, the Bobcats are well on their way.
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The Deal: Murray, Law for Tyrus Thomas

Posted by Sup on February 19, 2010

ESPN is reporting that the Bobcats have sent Flip Murray, Acie Law, and a protected number one pick to the Chicago Bulls for forward Tyrus Thomas in a trade deadline deal.

Murray was having an OK season for the Bobcats, averaging just under 10 points per game, and Law was roster filler. Thomas was clearly no longer in the Bulls’ plans, having squandered his opportunities there with petulant behavior and erratic performances. He averaged 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for the season, playing in only 29 games.

Thomas was drafted number 2 out of LSU in 2006, and was looked at as a potential star due to his incredible leaping ability and energy. But he never seemed to progress in the Bulls’ system, and was at odds with coaches and management much of the time. He needed a fresh start, and Charlotte seems eager to give it to him. He provides a long, athletic big man that the Bobcats have not had, but he also brings with him the baggage of being a loudmouth and insubordinate.

The trade brings up these questions: how does a guy like this mesh with the already volatile Stephen Jackson? How will he manage under the demanding Larry Brown when he couldn’t keep it together under the inexperienced Vinny Del Negro? And will he be in the team’s long term plans? Thomas is at the end of his rookie contract, and will be looking for a new contract in April. This should hopefully push him to be on his best behavior, but doesn’t guarantee anything. If he figures out the whole “maturity” concept in that short a time, I’ll be as surprised as anyone.

He’s talented, there is no arguing that. His performance in the playoffs against the Celtics shows you the tease:  9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 20 blocks in 7 games.

Perhaps my buddy Gene said it best: “He’s got all the potential in the world … to give you bleeding ulcers.”

Now in the what the Bobcats gave up category: a scorer off the bench in Flip Murray. His numbers weren’t spectacular, but he did give the Bobcats some meaningful minutes off the bench at the 1 and 2. Those minutes will have to be absorbed by some combination of D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson, though I would guess that nothing has been promised to Henderson. Ultimately, Augustin was not traded because Raymond Felton is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and they really need to have the insurance policy of Augustin’s availability in the event Felton walks.

This trade (and the later trade for the dessicated corpse of Theo Ratliff) were, like the Jackson trade, made for the now. Though Thomas has the potential to be a building block for the future, he addresses an immediate need for help in the big positions. Can he get his head together enough to help the team? I’m not so sure. He left Chicago under a could of bad feelings and unprofessional behavior. To expect him to turn it around in a matter of days is unrealistic. He will be on his best behavior for a time, but I have concerns that down the road, he sees himself as much more valuable than he really is. For now, with all three Bobcats centers nursing injuries, he’s going to be thrown into the mix with a hope and a prayer.

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Do they need to make a move?

Posted by Sup on February 14, 2010

The rumor is out that the Bobcats and Boston Celtics are talking trade, with the primary targets being Glen Davis and D.J. Augustin. The Celtics would get a promising though struggling young point guard, while the Bobcats would get a backup power forward, something they have needed all season long.

I would be happy with this, although there is a lot of finagling to be done to make this happen (Davis is a base compensation year player, and that status makes things…messy). There are more interesting thoughts, though perhaps not more realistic options. I’ve heard of desires for Carlos Boozer, for Andrei Kirelenko. Rufus on Fire has a handy list of potential Bobcat fours.

The question does remain: do they need to make this move?

There is the possibility of the team standing pat. That would leave them with a decent team, still short on depth at the 4, and a whole lot of minutes being logged by Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. The up and down performances of Boris Diaw would continue to be vexing, and the issues that Augustin’s regression will still be a problem. If the team wants to make that push to the playoffs, they will need to make a move. The one thing that can really dampen that? The impending sale of the team.

New ownership seems to be on the horizon in the form of former Rockets majority owner George Postolous. Will the new owners bring up the need to keep the salaries where they are until the deal goes through in 60 days? Or will there be a real commitment from management to do what is necessary to get a playoff appearance nailed down? The Bobcats have had pretty good success with their recent trades. Even one that was considered a dud last year has this year borne fruit in the form of Nazr Mohammed’s revival effort. Well, the whole Tyson Chandler thing…but again, that was not made for basketball reasons.

It is my hope they do try to make a move to shore up the front line. In the long term, this is not a championship contender, and it won’t likely be one for the duration of Wallace’s career here unless a miracle occurs. But this team needs to win to try and turn around the fan base. And a deep run into the second round of the playoffs would do wonders in that direction. Let’s get some help up front and try to make that run.

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Recap: Bobcats 93 Timberwolves 92 – Nazr’s Nice Night

Posted by Sup on February 11, 2010

Boxscore Recap

The John Hollinger profile of Nazr Mohammed, available to ESPN Insiders.

(Nazr) Mohammed turned 32 last year and he’s never been in the greatest of shape; it appears the latter weakness may be catching up with him. However, he can defend post players reasonably well and provide six fouls off the pine. Plus, his terrible shooting percentage from last season is probably an outlier given the scarcity of minutes. He’s useful as a fifth big man at worst, and with two years and $13 million left on his deal, he hasn’t run out of chances just yet.

It’s a good thing, too.

Mohammed had the most dominant performance of his career and his most important dunk of the season last night. The Bobcats had squandered a 21 point lead against the usually hapless Minnesota Timberwolves, fallen behind by three, and cut it to one on a Stephen Jackson layup. Boris Diaw missed a long jumper that Mohammed could not grab, but Corey Brewer violated one of the basic rules you are taught from the time you start playing basketball: never save the ball form going out of bounds under your own basket. Brewer dove over the end line and flipped the ball back inbounds, directly to Mohammed, who dunked the inadvertent pass home to provide the final margin.

It was the capper on a game that saw Nazr complete a 21 point, 20 rebound performance, the second 20-20 for a Bobcats player this season. And they needed every bit of it. Raymond Felton sat out last night on his ouchy ankle, and Gerald Wallace looked exhausted after putting up his 48 minute night against the Wizards (5 points, 9 rebounds). Jackson pumped in 33 points, but only scored 2 in the fourth quarter, going 1-4. Diaw had another game of offensive aggressiveness, earning a Kirilenko-like 5x5x5x3 (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks). D.J. Augustin played well as a starter, putting a 14 point 7 assist performance, though most of his best work was done in the first half.

The Bobcats were grinding the Wolves into the court through most of the first 3 periods. Despite only forcing 9 turnovers (to 16 of their own), Charlotte was scoring from everywhere, shooting 40% from three, dominating the boards 48-35, and limiting the Wolves to one double figure scorer, Al Jefferson. But in the fourth, the Wolves were able to go on extended runs while Bobcats shooters cooled off dramatically. The 11-3 run up to the six and a half minute mark of the fourth pulled the Wolves to within one, with Ramon Session, Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes doing the work. Three Bobcats turnovers in the period helped their cause, and when the Wolves took a three point lead on a Jefferson jump hook with 57 seconds to go, the Bobcats looked primed for an epic collapse.

But the Bobcats showed some of the resilience they have been demonstrating through much of the season. After a timeout, Diaw recovered a Mohammed miss to get an uncontested layup, cutting the Minnesota lead to one. The defense then forced a Gomes 17 footer that missed, setting up the Brewer brain cramp and Mohammed heroics.

So the Bobcats enter the All Star break over .500 for the first time in franchise history. They have their first All Star, and have sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference. There are still questions to be answered, like will they make a move before the trade deadline next week. But if you had told any Bobcats fan that this would be the situation at this point in the season, I would guarantee you they would be happy with it.

‘Cat of the Night – There is no question; Nazr Mohammed. 40 minutes, 21 points, 20 rebounds and a big block on an Al Jefferson layup. As great as Wallace’s season has been, Mohammed’s resurgence this season is the unreported story of the NBA.

Stat of the Night – 1-9. Wallace had another relatively weak night, and is shooting only 41% for the month of February, after going for 52% during December and January in that All Star push. He’s a little dinged up now with the hamstring and lingering ankle issues. It would be great to get some rest during the All Star break, but given the choice, I’m betting Wallace will take the All Star Game over kicking back for a few days.

Notable Notables

  • Kevin Love, a player that the Bobcats passed over in the draft, played off the bench last night, going for 9 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes. He’s still averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds on the season.
  • Rick Bonnell reported that the game was completely blacked out. Local television and radio in Charlotte and Minneapolis were committed to other things, so the only way to hear it was over HD radio. I watched it on my iPhone using NBA League Pass, but it was the in stadium feed, so many plays were not shown because the “broadcast” was on whatever was being shown on the Target Center JumboTron. There were a lot of baseline angles and obstructed shots as well.
  • Tyson Chandler was not very productive in his 12 minutes, scoring 2 points and committing 4 fouls, including one of his now legendary moving screens.

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Wallace Named to Team USA

Posted by Sup on February 10, 2010

Gerald Wallace continues to impress. First the All Star Dunk contest, then All Star reserve. Now, he has been named to the USA Men’s National Team Program. This could potentially lead to playing for the national team in the FIBA World Championships and ultimately, the Olympic team.

Of course there are 27 players named to the team, and ahead of him at small forward are guys like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Add Danny Granger, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala to the mix, and you see that this is hardly a guaranteed thing. Plus, it would be nice for Wallace to rest in the offseason, especially considering the huge minutes he’s playing right now.

Still, it is another acknowledgment that Wallace is among the best at his position in the league, and any notice like this lifts the image of both him and his team. Bravo, G-Force.

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Recap: Bobcats 94 Wizards 92 – Felton finds a way

Posted by Sup on February 10, 2010

Boxscore Recap

There were very few moments in the game last night when the Bobcats looked like the team that ripped off a long winning streak at home. But one of them was the last offensive possession of the game, and it was enough.

Raymond Felton twisted, turned and made a fallaway 12 foot jumper to give the Bobcats a 94-92 win over a confident Wizards team that had just beaten division heavyweight Orlando in Florida on Friday. Felton is still playing on a bad ankle, which required him to be in a walking boot on Monday, and probably has contributed to the weakened perimeter defense over the last couple of weeks. But his biggest shot of the season helped him overcome the pain.

The Bobcats were not victimized by a point guard this night. Randy Foye and former Bobcat Earl Boykins (had a cup of coffee with them during the Sam Vincent “error”) were relatively ineffective. This time, it was a collection of wing players that almost did them in, led by Caron Butler finding his range in the second half (23 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists). Mike Miller also did damage, scoring 19 points and making all three of his three point attempts. The ‘Cats were able to overcome this with their own wing duo of Stephen Jackson (22 points, 5 rebounds but 5 turnovers) and Gerald Wallace (17 points, 13 rebounds and another lurking-from-behind block of a fast break layup in 48 complete game minutes). Add into the mix an offensively active Boris Diaw (16 points) and superb bench play from Flip Murray (16 points), and you set the stage for Felton’s game winner.

With the score tied, Antawn Jamison missed a scoop shot in the lane, and the Bobcats came upcourt without calling a timeout. Felton was isolated on Foye, drove him right into the lane, then crossed it to fire up the fadeaway. It dropped through with 1.9 seconds to go in the game, leaving the Wizards to get one more scoop shot from Jamison that came up short.

Nazr Mohammed was not as successful offensively as he had been recently, but chipped in with 10 rebounds. The “big” story in the paint was the relatively successful return of Tyson Chandler to the lineup. Seven minutes of game action resulted in 5 points (two on a nice alley oop slam) and four rebounds. This doesn’t absolve him from being a part of John Hollinger’s biggest disappointments of the season (Link for ESPN Insiders), but it’s better than sitting on the bench in a suit.

Murray was excellent as a shotmaker off the bench, going 6-10. His best move of the night was on a crossover that buckled Foye’s knees and drew a foul, though he was only able to convert 1-2 free throws.  Three point shooting was not much of a resource for the Bobcats last night, only going 4-16. But they were able to limit Washington to 6-18 from three and only 43% shooting overall.

It was a home win against a marginal team. But it was a necessary win to stop the three game skid before they headed back out to Minneapolis to meet another bad team in the Timberwolves. Here’s a chance to sweeten up the road record…are the Wolves missing anybody? No? Well, we have a chance.

‘Cat of the Night – Gotta love Wallace’s stat stuffing night. 17 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks.

Stat of the Night – 7 minutes, Chandler’s playing time. He CAN help. I think.

Notable Notables

  • Michael Jordan and Bob Johnson were both on hand last night in front of a sparse crowd.
  • The Wizards likely spent the night here last night because of Snowpocalypse II in D.C. This would be the second time in 4 days their travel plans are screwed up by the snowfall.

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Recap: Hornets 105 Bobcats 99 – As disappointing as it gets

Posted by Sup on February 7, 2010

Boxscore Recap

Continuing the theme of “we can’t beat teams missing their best player,” the Bobcats laid down for the New Orleans Hornets in front of a sellout home crowd. After holding a 10 point lead at halftime, the Bobcats let the Hornets shoot 57% after the break, and rookie point guard Darren Collison did an outstanding impression of Chris Paul, dicing up the defense for a career high 24 points, including the game clinching layup over Raymond Felton with seconds to go. He wasn’t alone in his cutting up the once formidable Bobcat D: the mortal remains of Peja Stojakavic went for 18, David West put in 21 on a variety of jumpers and post ups, and Emeka Okafor had 16 and 7 in his Queen City return.

There wasn’t much excuse for this effort. Gerald Wallace only took 11 shots, and wasn’t a factor at all until the fourth quarter. Stephen Jackson led the Bobcats in scoring again with 26, but also in turnovers again with 4. He did make a cold blooded jumper in the lane late and the following free throw after  James Posey foul to draw the Bobcats within 3 before Collison’s layup. Nazr Mohammed scored 15, all in the first half. He played very little in the second, even though the matchup with Okafor was still there.

Again, the starters played heavy minutes. Wallace played 45 minutes coming off the sore hamstring, and looked a little tentative going to the basket until the fourth. Boris Diaw’s 44 minutes were mostly uneventful, something that has happened all to frequently this season. Jackson was in for 38 minutes.

I say all this as if the Bobcats were bad all the way through. They weren’t: there were moments in the first half when it looked like they would run away with the game. An alley oop to Wallace, deadly shooting from Jackson and solid defense gave them a 53-43 lead at half, but there were large runs on both sides that made the game far less secure than that lead made it look. And again, they were unable to force many turnovers, particularly frustrating against a rookie point guard making his third start.

This team has struggled to win over the locals. And unfortunately, on two recent sellout dates (against the Magic and last night), they have com eup short, not taking advantage of a crowd behind them and a friendly home court. It isnt time to panic or worry, but it is time to be concerned. Do they relax against good teams missing a star? Has the good press gone to their head? Despite the recent cries of “don’t bring Tyson Chadler back!” it is apparent the interior defense is failing repeatedly at keeping opposing players out of the lane, and his length is missed in that respect. Do they need to make a move besides getting him back soon? We’ll talk about that in another post. For now, let’s hope that the missing star syndrome doesn’t extend to the Washington Wizards.

‘Cat of the Night – Stephen Jackson, for keeping them in the game with 26 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.

Stat of the Night – 66.7% free throw shooting is one of those bellwethers. If the bobcats shoot this poorly, they will lose.

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Recap: Lakers 99 Bobcats 97 – Just not enough

Posted by Sup on February 4, 2010

Boxscore Recap

I don’t know that I should be troubled by this or not. Over the course of the six game roadtrip, the Bobcats played the following teams: Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Lakers. Of those teams, the Nuggets, Blazers and the Lakers played with their lead player, their star either out of the game entirely or hampered by injury.

And the Bobcats lost all three.

On a trip that was predicted to be a test case for the viability of the Bobcats on the road, coming home 3-3 has to be considered a success, especially taking into account the road record prior to the start of the trip (3-16). But an inability to take advantage of what looked to be favorable circumstances is if not disturbing, very very irritating.

The Lakers were essentially playing without Kobe Bryant. He has a broken index finger and a sore foot aggravated by Lamar Odom stepping on in the first half, played 37 minutes during which he was mostly invisible, making only 2 of his 12 shots, and finishing with a season low 5 points. But the Bobcats were playing without Gerald Wallace, and this played a huge factor in the pace of the game. The Bobcats have been averaging 108 ppg since the new year. But with Wallace out, they slowed the game down, playing a much more deliberate pace. Nazr Mohammed benefited greatly, scoring a season high 23 points to go with 17 rebounds. Even without Wallace, they managed to win the rebound battle 45-38, grabbing 18 offensive boards. Mohammed even had an eye opening dunk of a fast break layup missed by Raymond Felton.

While Stephen Jackson led all scorers with 30 points to go along with 7 rebounds, the Bobcats got very little from the other frontcourt players. Boris Diaw played what may have been his worst game of the season. He did not score, played about 5 minutes in the first half with foul trouble, and took 4 shots. On a late possession, he held the ball for a full 8 seconds while not taking a shot, leaving the Bobcats to rush up something that had no chance of going in. He did grab a big rebound in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats stayed close throughout the game, tying the Lakers on 21 different occasions. But his reluctance to shoot, and ineffectiveness on the boards really sunk the team when they needed his production most. Filling in for Wallace, Stephen Graham played good defense, but was only able to generate 6 points on offense (though two were on a great behind the back-spin -up and under against Pau Gasol that screwed Gasol into the ground).

The Lakers repeatedly threw to ball over the heads of the slightly undersized Bobcat front line to Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They combined for 31 points and 17 rebounds (Bynum had the bulk of those with 14). And Lamar Odom came off the bench to contributed more long armed offense and offensive rebounding. He put up 19 points and 7 rebounds in only 28 minutes, and the Bobcats had no answer for him. More telling, the Bobcats could not force any turnovers, getting the Lakers to commit only 7.

The mental lapses were glaring, as they tend to be in a close game. D.J. Augustin decided to go high on Jordan Farmar on an inbounds pass from 3/4 court, leading to a one man fast break that ended with a Bynum dunk. And the most damaging: Jackson and Felton could not get on the same page for an inbounds pass with 9.9 seconds to go and the Bobcats trailing 97-94. Jackson inbounded, and the pass was tipped by Farmar to  Gasol, who launched a pass to the streaking Farmar for a dunk. Flip Murray tossed in a 40 foot 3 pointer to provide the final margin, but didn’t get to touch the ball on the most crucial possession.

Larry Brown took the blame for the last inbounds play, saying he wasn’t as clear as he should have been on what he wanted. “I told them all afterwards that that was just an old coach doing a stupid thing.” But most importantly, Jackson forgot the Bobcats had a timeout remaining, and didn’t need to throw that pass if it wasn’t wide open.

Considering they were playing without their All Star, the Bobcats played the defending champions close, and very possibly could have won this game with Wallace on the floor. Admittedly, the quality with which they have played recently has raised my expectations, and I don’t want to see the kind of brain lock moments that left them with another in the loss column, losing a chance to pick up ground on both the Heat and Bulls. This team seems to be above the need for moral victories. Sadly, last night was all that this can be called in the end.

‘Cat of the Night – Jackson was the leading scorer, consistently pulling the Bobcats back into ties and leads with big shots. But Nazr Mohammed’s performance cannot be overlooked. He scrapped under the boards, getting tough rebounds on both the offensive and defensive ends, and nearly made up entirely for the lack of scoring from Diaw and Graham. I’m going with Nazr on this one.

Stat of the Night – 5 and 2. The five points Kobe scored were the fewest he’s ever scored as a Laker when playing more than 30 minutes. And this is the second game Wallace has missed this season, sitting with a bad hamstring. It was the right choice, as no one wants a hamstring issue to linger through the rest of the season. Stephanie Reddy talked to him before the game, and he told her he was baffled about how to deal with it, since he has never had a bad hamstring before.

Notable Notables

  • At times last night, Andrew Bynum looked like he was 10 feet tall. His arms are ridiculous. The lobs to him and Gasol were difficult to deal with if they kept the ball high on his move to the basket.
  • Steve Martin and Dell Curry continued to comment on Flip Murray’s “short memory.” He never remembers that bad miss, and just puts up the next shot expecting it to fall. Now if he could share some of that with Boris….
  • Artest was on Jackson a number of times, and though Jackson resorted to jumpers on many of those possessions, watching how he got them against Artest was instructional. In the fourth, Artest was hopping side to side trying to keep Jackson from driving, and took a very small step back. That was all Jack needed to stick the cold blooded 3. He also penetrated and made a straight up and down layup that looked like it had no chance of going in.

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Recap: Blazers 98 Bobcats 79 – Ripped in the Rose Garden

Posted by Sup on February 2, 2010

Boxscore Recap

Going into the game, my wife said “Did you say before this road trip you would be happy if they came back 3-3?” Yes, I did. Coming off the losses at Atlanta and to Orlando at home, and facing dome tough matchups on the trip, I thought 3-3, coming back home no worse than when they left, would be satisfactory. Baby steps, right?

Well, three wins in a row on the road tend to make you greedy. You think that you should get ‘am all. Especially against a team weakened by the loss of their most talented player (who should have been a Bobcat. I know, I’ll shut up) Brandon Roy. His bad hamstring kept him out, but the Blazers were coming off a night where Andre Miller, the big free agent acquisition they had promptly buried on the bench, went off for 52, a night after scoring 2 points. They were, as they say, ripe for the picking. Like the Nuggets were.

The Blazers started off fast, and weren’t missing from anywhere. Martell Webster, Jerryd Bayless, and LaMarcus Aldridge were particularly potent, and they blew out to a 29-19 lead on a variety of layups and jumpers from every distance. Boris Diaw is often the bellwether for the Bobcats; how he gets started affects how the team does. And last night, Boris was working hard for offensive rebounds, but passed up shot after shot trying to move the ball, sometimes inappropriately. Hard passes underneath to Gerald Wallace or other Bobcats trying to get into the post were tipped up and out, knocked out of bounds, or not converted if they were caught.

The Bobcats weren’t pressured on offense, at least in the first half. They had good shots at every level, and just did not convert. Stephen Jackson led the ‘Cats in scoring with 23, but tied Diaw with 5 turnovers. Wallace added a 17 point 10 rebound double double, but he got only 10 shots, as he was blanketed by a series of long armed defenders coming off the Portland bench. Webster, Dante Cunningham, and Nicholas Batum all took turns on Wallace, and were able to limit his touches on the offensive end. All of them tallied in double figures as well, with Batum finishing with 15, Wenster and Cunningham 10 each.

21 Bobcats turnovers were all part of the problem, and a super productive Blazer bench was the other. The Bobcats never led in the game, but battled to within 4 on multiple occasions without being able to get the stops and baskets to get into the lead. A 10-0 run in the third period was one of those times: Wallace and Jackson each scored 4, and Nazr Mohammed and Diaw 2 each to get the Bobcats to within 63-59. But Andre Miller (8 points) got inside on two consecutive possessions, and the rally was snuffed out. A 7 point Blazer lead at the beginning of the fourth expanded to 19 by the time there were 2 minutes to go in the period as the Bobcats went on extended dry spells and the Blazers capitalized on all the misses to get into transition.

Ultimately, Charlotte shot only 40.6% from the field, getting poor shooting nights from Raymond Felton (3-10, 8 points) and D.J. Augustin (0-5, 0-4 from three, 0 points). Aldridge led the Blazers in scoring with 17 points and 8 rebounds, but 6 Blazers scored in double digits, providing the comfortable margin of victory. Another missed opportunity for the Bobcats to get a road win against a supposedly weakened but quality opponent, and now they head to the Staples Center to face the Lakers, whom they inexplicably have a 7-1 record against in the last 8 games.

‘Cat of the Night – I’ll give it to Wallace for his 17 point 10 rebound effort on a night when it was hard for him to find the holes he needed to get points. Jackson could be there too, but those 5 turnovers and a few really quick “what the hell is he doing?” type shots turned me sour on him

Stat of the Night – 40.6. The Bobcat’s shooting percentage wasn’t always the result of pressure. For some reason, they just couldn’t get shots to go down, many hitting the iron-glass-iron before falling out. Not many dunks, and layups that rolled off or over also played a part, though Nazr had a nice tip dunk follow off a Jackson miss.

Notable Notables

  • Miller was only able to put up 8 points after posting the second highest point total of the NBA season, but he did have 10 assists on the night.
  • Jackson rolled his ankle in the second period and limped up and down for a couple of trips before a time out, but came back in afterwards appearing none the worse for wear.
  • Another bellwether for the Bobcats: Mohammed only got 3 shots inside against an interior defense that featured the corpse of Juwan Howard, Aldridge, and not much else.
  • The Blazer bench seems to be composed of only 6-7, 6-8 inch guys with long arms and leaping ability. The loss of both Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla have left them very small up front, but the Bobcats could not capitalize on the lack of shotblocking or space eating forwards and centers.

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Hollinger and Bobcats Respect

Posted by Sup on February 1, 2010

I have always tended to like the sabremetric type of analysis that John Hollinger of ESPN and others have tried to put on NBA basketball. It’s a tough thing to do, considering the unmeasurable factors of defense and the biggest variable, minutes. They certainly can be the cause of a good discussion about who’s better and gives us some tools to have the argument with.

I haven’t looked as much at his team PER ratings, and his weekly ranking of teams over on ESPN.com. So you can imagine my surprise when I stopped into the site today and found the Bobcats ranked #9 on his Power Rankings. This puts them firmly in the top half of the league, and ahead of teams like the Mavericks, Spurs, and tonight’s opponent, the Trailblazers.

Now this ranking method seems akin to the reading of cat entrails and tea leaves, but here’s the formula:

RATING = (((SOS-0.5)/0.037)*0.67) + (((SOSL10-0.5)/0.037)*0.33) + 100 + (0.67*(MARG+(((ROAD-HOME)*3.5)/(GAMES))) + (0.33*(MARGL10+(((ROAD10-HOME10)*3.5)/(10)))))

SOS = Season win/loss percentage of team’s opponents, expressed as a decimal (e.g., .500)

SOSL10 = Season win/loss percentage of team’s last 10 opponents, expressed as a decimal (e.g., .500)

MARG = Team’s average scoring margin

MARGL10 = Team’s average scoring margin over the last 10 games

HOME = Team’s home games

HOMEL10 = Team’s home games over the last 10 games

ROAD = Team’s road games

ROADL10 = Team’s road games over the last 10 games

GAMES = Team’s total games

The Bobcats’ rating is 103.385. The team at the top of the rankings, the Lakers, have a rating of 107.980.

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