Charlotte Bobcats @ Clippers 2/28/09

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1.  The Bobcats finish off the road trip in strong fashion, defeating the Clippers 100-95.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.  That makes for a three game win streak, and a 3-2 Western Conference road trip.

2.  None of the three victories were very pretty or particularly solid, and they were all against lotto teams, but the overall body of work on the road trip is nothing to scoff at.  After starting off the trip with two losses, the Cats could have easily packed it in and folded, using the fatigue of West Coast travel as an easy excuse.

3.  It was a strong third quarter from the starters that made the difference in this one.  Everyone contributed towards a 34-20 quarter that lifted the Cats from a 51-45 halftime deficit to a 79-71 lead heading into the fourth.

4.  Emeka Okafor was the statistical star of the game, finishing with 28 points (11-17 FG, 6-7 FT) and 9 rebounds.  With 17 FGAs (tying a season high) Mek was obviously very aggressive in looking for his offense, doing most of his damage during the second and third quarters.  He had his requisite putbacks and dunks, but also looked great heading to the basket and finishing.  He connected with DJ for a great alley-oop and also hit a couple of 12-foot pull-up jumpers in the second.

5.  Raja Bell also had a stong game, getting 9 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to hold the Clippers at bay and adding 7 rebounds along the way.  Raja hit the biggest shot of the game, a tough three-pointer under two minutes to go to bump the Cats lead back up to five.

6.  Probably the best sign from the box score is the assist/turnover numbers. The Bobcats have been struggling with turnovers since the All-Star break, and the last game of a 5-game Western Conference road trip isn’t the most likely place to change that trend.

But change it they did.  Overall, the team had 29 assists versus only 10 turnovers.  Felton (7 assists/2 turnovers) and Augustin (8/1) set the tone.  Now if we can just get Boris (4 turnovers) under control…

7.  This one puts us at 25-35 overall, with 22 games left.  We’re three games back of Milwaukee, who is hanging tough in that 8th playoff spot.  Chicago and New Jersey are both only one game back, while New York and Indiana have fallen to 3.5 games back.

Hollinger’s playoff odds gives us a 14.2% chance to get there, while basketball-reference.com gives us only a 7.1% chance (obviously using a different formula).  40 wins probably gets us in, which means we still need to go 15-7 down the stretch.

8.  For those rooting for that 8th playoff spot, the next game is an especially big one.  We have Chicago at home on Tuesday night (7 PM start) — we’ve already defeated them once this season (DJ’s best game of the season back on December 16) and will face them in Chicago for the third and last time in the last week of the season.  Chicago is one of the teams that we’d likely be fighting against if we can get to 39 wins, so to secure the tiebreaker against them by winning Tuesday night would be great.

9.  One last note: if you haven’t already read it, Bill Simmons’ piece on the NBA’s financial troubles is your assigned weekend reading — here you go.

-E

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4 Responses to “Charlotte Bobcats @ Clippers 2/28/09”

  1. Adam S. Chin
    March 1, 2009 at 7:33 am #

    At this point, I'm not sure what would be a better way to end the season:

    1. Finish strong with 36 wins and add a quality young player in the draft, let Felton walk, sign a quality backup veteran PG, and re-load for next year.

    2. Make the playoffs, generate some more revenue for both the team and the city and get Charlotte excited about the Bobcats for the first time ever.

    So either way, it works out great.

  2. E
    March 1, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    The only thing that gives me pause about getting a draft pick this year is that it's a weak draft. I mean, we're all hoping for some lottery luck so we could have a shot at Griffin, Rubio, Harden or Monroe, but more than likely we'll have a 8-10 pick.

    If that's our pick, I say we swing for the fences and get DeMar DeRozan. He's all potential; nowhere near ready to contribute. But we have Raja for another year, so there wouldn't be any pressure to produce in year one…

  3. Jaxon
    March 1, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    I would have much rather seen them blow out one of these God awful teams, but 3 straight on the road against anyone is pretty nice. Bell and Diaw's 3pt closers really made things exciting.

  4. mike15
    March 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    The Clippers game was a fun one to watch – mostly due to the Okafor-Randolph duel. Emeka really took over in that second quarter and it gave the team exactly what it needed to stay in the game. From that point on the offensive strategy was balanced and the Clippers defense was strained. Randolph's big surge late in the game kept it close, but it was really encouraging to see Okafor continue his strong play on both sides of the court. We see him shrink at some of these challenges, but he really asserted himself in this one.

    Also, the Cats were able to do the right things on defense to hinder Baron Davis and Mike Taylor after their early blasts. Davis just used Felton for the first four or five minutes of the game and DJ was brought in to substitute when Raymond drew his second foul. Augustin was burnt by Taylor for a big stretch, but somehow the team defense put things back into balance and kept the Clippers' point guards in check for most of the second half. Baron can still get to the hoop in a dozen ways, thus he found his run of scoring in the fourth quarter. Still, he hadn't taken over the game and the Cats had enough offense to stay alive.

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