Bobcats Baseline Observations: 11/28/2009
Tonight’s game was masterful. Everything Bobcats fans loved about the team during last season’s late Playoff charge was on full display against the Wiz Saturday night: Fluid ball movement, ball-hawking defense creating turnovers and fast breaks, shutting down the opposing team’s star players, excellent bench contributions, veterans and youngsters looking good. Wow. If you would’ve told me that the Cats would follow up last week’s stinker in Milwaukee with a four game winning streak (including a man handling of the Cavs) I would’ve thought you were high on Ambien and Johnnie Blue Label.
1. The Nazr Mohammed Redemption
Nobody foresaw this. How could you? Call him a Hollinger fluke rule player, call him a flash in the pan but Nazr Mohammed is winning games for the Charlotte Bobcats. Tonight’s 12pts and 5rbs in 12 minutes just added to the legend. Mohammed’s near 23PER easily leads the team while his per game averages of 7pts and 4rbs in under 13.5 minutes are near mind-blowing when you consider his disappearing act last season. The best part is that Nazr is doing this in a non-contract year, so you know that the new found effort must be genuine. Sure, I’ll never forget the fact that he played so poorly last season that the team shot itself in the foot with the Gana Diop gamble but if Mohammed keeps this up, we might be looking at a legitimate 2-deep at the Center spot for the first time in a long while.
Big props to Larry Brown for his Tyson Chandler/Mohammed 2-back attack strategy as well. Brown is savvy enough to know that those two are VERY DIFFERENT players and he’s distributing minutes based on the matchup. Last night it was Ilgauskas and Shaq vs. Cleveland and tonight it was Haywood/McGee for the Wiz. By not putting either of his centers in mismatches, Larry Brown is building a Voltron-like combo in the middle and it’s working beautifully. The Cats got a combined 22 points and 11 rebounds out of the 5-spot tonight.
2. The Derrick Brown Buzz Is Real
The greatest second round pick in franchise history continued his excellent play against the Wiz. The rookie dropped 10 points in just 16 minutes and was one of six Bobcats players to score in double digits. As Dr E has reiterated in his recent recaps, these aren’t garbage time points. Brown hit two big shots in the fourth quarter tonight to effectively stop a late 4th quarter run by Washington. Brown’s willingness to play out of position at the PF spot along with his complete disregard for his lack of experience are the main reasons Brown is getting a lot more burn than lottery pick Gerald Henderson. There have been several posts online in national and local forums stating how “Derrick Brown was the Steal of the Draft, while Henderson was the Biggest Bust” and this is just nonsense. Yes, right now Brown is a better pro but Henderson has shown promise in limited minutes and the young man is stuck behind some of the team’s best players at SG. Gerald’s lack of consistent outside shooting isn’t going to springboard him ahead of Flip Murray on the depth chart so The Sequel is going to have work hard on that aspect of his game if ever wants to see consistent burn this season.
3. Odds & Ends
A lot of fans are Down On Diaw but you have to remember that Boris has been playing hurt since training camp. He’s on a bum ankle now and that followed a bout with back spasms and the original ankle injury this summer. His 3-12 shooting was a bit of an eyesore tonight but I did like his 6 assists and 0 turnovers (see Diaw’s silky smooth touch pass alley oop to Tyson Chandler in the highlights – a thing of beauty).
Raymond Felton has quietly strung together a few solid games. While’s his inside the paint scoring is as atrocious as ever, he’s cut down on the turnovers (0 tonight against 5 assists, PLUS 4 steals) and his jump shot is falling with a lot more consistency. If he could just figure out how to make at least half of those driving layups and improve his 3pt shooting, dude could be looking at a nice new contract this summer.
TURNOVERS: At one point early this month, the Bobcats were leading the League in TOs. They’ve committed just 20 in the past two games. Now, that, sports fans, is the reason why they’ve won 4-in-a-row.
Gerald Wallace with another 14 rebounds tonight. This puts him in the top 3 in the League in the category. I’m with reggie on this one, if he keeps it up and the ‘Cats stay around .500 then there’s a GREAT CHANCE he’s going to Dallas during the Break.
Mike Miller didn’t play tonight for the Wiz but did provide a great amount of entertainment as he was dressed in a costume that could only be described as “One of the Gin Blossoms.” Maybe Mike just pulled a “Reality Bites” | “Singles” Turkey Day Marathon and got inspired.
Bobcats look like an entirely different team out there playing as a cohesive unit, swarming on defense and moving just 2 games below .500 in the standings. They are currently in 7th place in the East. Not a bad place to be heading into December.
Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans.