Bobcats Chronicles

How a young NBA franchise gets it going

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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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