The Bobcats After (a Little Over) the Halfway Point

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Charlotte Bobcats Mid-Season Status

I can’t believe it’s already past halfway through the NBA season. It just happened so fast!

Before I knew it, my expectations of another playoff season disintegrated to the dust that is hoping for a good lottery pick while remaining competitive and now just hoping that we remain competitive and can develop young talent.

So here we are, sitting on a record of 17-25 with a full, 15-man roster while one of our best players, Tyrus Thomas is injured for about the next two months. Let’s recap what’s happened so far before I talk about where I think we go from here.

The Initial Disappointment

The Bobcats dropped six of their first seven games in painful fashion, with three of those losses decided by four points or less. Contrasting that with the previous season which was noted for the Bobcats’ stifling defense, this team was an utter mess. The defense was all out of sorts, giving up three-pointer after three pointer and having weak a very weak interior despite decent rebounding. And the offense wasn’t much improved either, but what did you expect from former head coach Larry Brown? He has never had the greatest offenses. However, the Bobcats managed to have a mediocre record at the end of November (6-11) by beating some worse teams, including New Jersey, Minnesota, Toronto, Washington and Houston.

Individually, D.J. Augustin shone brightly as he proved his ability on the court in spite of a coach that obviously lamented his presence, significantly improving his scoring and his ball distribution while keeping turnovers minimal. Tyrus Thomas, though chained to the bench with extremely limited minutes, continued to produce and energize the team whenever he was on the court. On the flip side, nearly every other starter struggled. Boris Diaw was a non-factor, Stephen Jackson was decent scoring the ball but turned the rock over way too much and Gerald Wallace just didn’t seem to be his usual “balls-to-the-wall” self anymore, especially on defense. The bench was much improved from last year, but Larry Brown as is his nature, refused to play the young guys much, if at all. Plus, Gerald Henderson got hurt, so that didn’t help either.

In short, it was the most frustrating first couple of months I’ve ever experienced as  Bobcats fan.

Rock Bottom

Fans were beginning to get fed up with the under-performing team and the inability to turn the team around, even with baby steps. The team was inconsistent, going from high points like beating the Denver Nuggets to low points like losing to the Philadelphia 76ers by 18 points. The Bobcats lost to the Celtics by 29 a week or two later but I wasn’t as upset about that considering they’ve had our number since 2009. But then the poo hit the fan. The Bobcats lost by 33 to the Memphis Grizzlies and later to the Washington Wizards by 33, who were without John Wall and Gilbert Arenas and hadn’t received Rashard Lewis in their trade with Orlando. Then the Bobcats lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 18 heading into a long break over the holidays. Aaaannnnd Gerald Wallace was injured for an extended period of time. Wonderful.

Larry Brown was exceptionally melancholy in post-game press conferences, sometimes seemingly on the edge of a mental breakdown. Just a day after the Thunder loss, the Bobcats organization announced that the team and Larry Brown had mutually decided that he would resign as head coach. And so ended the Larry Brown era in Charlotte.

Beginning Life Anew

On the same day as Larry Brown’s resignation, the Bobcats announced that Paul Silas would be named the interim head coach. In the following days, the Bobcats announced the assistant coaching staff consisting of Charles Oakley, Stephen Silas and Ralph Lewis. Bobcats fans were re-energized as a past fan-favorite coach (Charlotte Hornets) returned home to hopefully become competitive once again, even if the team was struggling.

The team came out guns ablaze, winning their first two games and scoring more than 100 points – a rarity for the Bobcats under Larry Brown. The fire smoldered as the team lost a close one to Golden State and another loss to the hot-as-Brooklyn Decker Miami Heat. However, they showed heart in fighting with Gerald Wallace out once again. The Bobcats returned from the losses and rattled off a four-game win streak against Minnesota, Washington, Memphis and Chicago. They also played the tough as nails Boston Celtics closer than they had in about two years. The team continued to play tough, recording some hard-fought losses and also some hard-fought wins.

D.J. Augustin flourished as Silas permitted him to play freely as opposed to under Larry Brown. Boris Diaw was less turnover-prone, rebounded better and even recorded his first-ever triple-double as a member of the Bobcats. Kwame Brown was even much better, recording multiple games with 10+ rebounds. Gerald Wallace returned and was even worse than before, as he struggled to finish at the rim and shoot. But even worse than Gerald was Stephen Jackson who is shooting 35% from the field and 22% from the three and yet never taking fewer than 14 field goal attempts. And let’s not even touch on his problems with the referees.

In bad to worse news, Tyrus Thomas got injured with a torn left meniscus which would keep him out for about 2 months.

Where To Go From Here

The Bobcats are in the very curious position of being a bad team currently in control of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Do you go for broke and try to get the squad better in the present at the cost of getting worse in the future for the chance at a playoff run? Or do you admit that rebuilding is necessary and trade the players that have value for young talent, draft picks or cap space? Does Tyrus Thomas’ injury change those odds and thus what decision will be made? (I think so)

From what I think Jordan is like as an owner, I have to believe option one is what he would choose, unfortunately for the fans who hope for consistency in the future. As I mentioned before, the Bobcats have a full 15-man roster. This means we cannot call up any guys from the NBA-DL right now. I seriously doubt that a trade won’t come. Whether that’s Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson, I don’t know – but I think it’s likely that one of them are not on the team by the trade deadline. Nazr Mohammed’s expiring contract could accompany one of their contracts for the Bobcats to get some value in return. Regardless, with Tyrus’ injury and the team’s leaders struggling, I don’t think this team makes the playoffs. I believe they will be inconsistent, possibly getting small win streaks here or there but an ultimate lack of depth and talent across the roster will keep them out of the post-season. They should cut their losses now and try to trade for youth via draft picks or guys from other teams. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cap space won’t win championships for a small market team.

I’ve made my thoughts clear about what I think the team should do. What do y’all think?

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Disappoint, Lose to Vengeful Hawks

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Just a rough night. Sigh... (AP Photo)

Recap | Box Score

The Bobcats put up another letdown of a game on Saturday night, losing to the Atlanta Hawks (who were without starters Al Horford and Marvin Williams) 103-87. This came as a very disappointing loss, considering the Hawks had just incurred a 41-point loss the previous night. I expected a much hungrier team to come into the Cable Box, but I thought the Bobcats could gut out a win against the team without their starting center and small forward. I was wrong. The game was back-and-forth for much of the first half, with the Bobcats leading by five going into the break. Then the Bobcats once again encountered their immortal enemy, the third quarter. While the Bobcats scored around the same points as the previous quarters, their defense was thoroughly torn apart as the Hawks ran away to the 16-point win.

On the night, the Bobcats were led by D.J. Augustin who dropped 20 points and 7 dimes with zero turnovers. Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace both put up clunkers, combining for 5-23 shooting from the field, though Gerald Wallace was better because he rebounded and helped keep his man below his scoring average. Defensively, Jackson was destroyed by Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw had problems with über-athletic Josh Smith.

In the first half, the Bobcats were playing very well, shooting the ball at a decent clip (50% FG, 40% 3P) and they out-rebounded Atlanta by a small margin. With a five-point lead and only three turnovers at the half, Charlotte was playing as good basketball as they could with Gerald Wallace struggling and Stephen Jackson ending the half poorly after a nice first quarter. The bench also played well, centering around Shaun Livingston and Nazr Mohammed who combined for 9 points in the second quarter.

From there it went to Hell in a handbasket. The Bobcats got progressively worse in the third, shooting 37% from the field, getting fewer assists and rebounds, and more turnovers than the first two quarters. Stephen Jackson missed all six of his shots and Gerald Wallace was basically just a non-factor. And that was just offensively. On defense, the Hawks got pretty much whatever they wanted, scoring 32 points on 58% from the field and 57% from behind the arc, while grabbing 5 more rebounds, two more assists and without turning the ball over once. Though Augustin was great on offense in the third was rightfully left in for all of the quarter, he had trouble defending MIKE BIBBY, who scored 14 points on the night.

From there it was basically over. The team had no momentum, Jackson was shooting the team in the foot both with his offense and his inability to slow down Joe Johnson (though you have to give J.J. credit – he was basically unconscious the whole game), and the Bobcats just didn’t have the firepower to make a comeback attempt.

Tids & Bits

  • Dammit, give it up for Shaun Livingston. I watched him check into the game to neither deafening cheers nor applause (or anything close to that). The man deserves better. I love having him on the Bobcats and I would rather he never leave. He’s a good influence in the locker room and has great athletic gifts on the court. But if he’s not going to get the respect he deserves, I think I’d rather he leave and go somewhere else. He was exceptional tonight, shooting 4-6 from the field with three rebounds (one offensive), four assists and two steals for 9 points. Plus he had a couple highlights, including some smooth post moves and this put-back dunk.
  • As far as other guys who performed pretty well on the night, there was Gerald Henderson (4-7 FG, 2 REB, 1 AST, 8 PTS), Nazr Mohammed (5-9 FG, 7 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 1o PTS) and Boris Diaw (5-7 FG, 2-2 FT, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2STL, 1 BLK, 12 PTS). Those are excellent, efficient stat lines right there. Kwame Brown wasn’t bad either, but I expect him to rebound better against the Hawks’ backup center, Zaza Pachulia.
  • Since Paul Silas arrived as the interim head coach, I’ve been waffling on whether I think the Bobcats should blow the team up or not. There have been nights when they just look fantastic but then there are nights when they just look like the doo-doo I just stepped in on my front lawn. I think I’m coming closer to my decision. In my mind, the Bobcats should definitely try to trade Stephen Jackson at all costs. He’s incredibly inefficient on offense, which kills the team since he consistently take about 15 shots per game. As for who to keep, I have three different categories: must keeps – Augustin, Tyrus Thomas, Henderson; should keeps – Derrick Brown, Livingston; and like-to-keeps (those who I’d prefer to keep, but ultimately would understand if we traded them, permitting we get value in return) – Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw. It’s a youth movement folks; don’t trade for cap space. Trade for young talent or draft picks, not just expiring contracts. Cap space doesn’t win championships for a small market team, end of story.
  • Next on the schedule is Tuesday’s game at the Sacramento Kings at 10:00 p.m. EST, as the Bobcats begin a six-game road trip (Kings, Suns, Warriors, Clippers, Jazz, Pistons).

(all stats via the ESPN box score and the awesome website, Popcorn Machine)

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Boris on the Rebound?

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Boris Diaw Improves Under New Coach

At first blush, Boris Diaw is not the all-around good player he was once thought to be. After being traded to Charlotte in December of 2008, he flourished while putting up nice stats, including 15 ppg on 50% FG and 42% 3P with 5 apg and 6 rpg. But after that season, his play declined, partially due to the Stephen Jackson trade which eliminated some of his value. It seemed that with the pressure to score lifted, Diaw mentally shrugged at the idea of scoring and even being aggressive. He didn’t work as hard in the paint, taking about three fewer shots per game than the previous season but still taking the same number of three pointers per game despite dropping nearly a full ten percentage points in shots from downtown.

But most of all, he was inconsistent. However, this was still the Larry Brown era so as long as Boris played solid defense at just about any position, it didn’t matter. He was going to start every game, which he did. But while his defense was strong, his offense was, as mentioned above, inconsistent. His shooting was off and on and for the most part, he just seemed… out of it. Bobcats fans deemed him ‘nonchalant,’ which is an apt word to describe him. He’s not the Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace who basically wear their emotions on their sleeves. But then again, he doesn’t have to be. It’s just who he is. The fans who get upset that he doesn’t show emotion are also the ones who say things like, “Diaw doesn’t care.” While he doesn’t have the athleticism to have the chase-down blocks like Crash, nor the outward emotion, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, as some people infer. He just needed to play with more aggression.

Exit Larry Brown.

Enter Paul Silas and Charles Oakley.

When news broke about the new head coach and assistant coach, I was very interested to see what would happen to Diaw. Silas and Oakley both were very good power forwards (emphasis on the POWER) during their respective NBA careers with both averaging about 10 rebounds per game for their career. Obviously, Diaw, an unorthodox PF, doesn’t really fit that mold that Silas and Oak had and probably would prefer. While a trade seems like an obvious solution, I much preferred to see how the new coaching staff would develop Boris’ post play and rebounding. Although it is still early in Silas’ interim coaching tenure, I think 12 games are enough to make some analysis.

So far, I’ve seen marked improvement in Diaw’s aggressiveness on offense, specifically in the paint. He used to get the ball in the post, make a three quarter-assed attempt to muscle into the paint before kicking out to a teammate. Now he’s just so much better. He’s become more assertive and in the post, utilizing spin moves, his underrated baby hook and just plain using his behind and forcing himself into the pain. And yet, his scoring average in the Silas Era (S.E.) has not improved over the Larry Brown Era (L.B.E.). But that’s just fine! In the first six games in the S.E., Boris only had one game where he took more than 10 attempts from the field. Since then, he’s had five of six games with field goal attempts in double digits. While Boris’ FG% has marginally decreased in the S.E., I’m not concerned if he takes 10+ attempts. Why? Because he’s not taking shots from Augustin, so these extra attempts are Stephen Jackson’s or Gerald Wallace’s, which is fine by me as Diaw is more efficient on offense than either of them, unless Jackson has one of those games (COUGHnearfortypercentfg%COUGH). Oh, and I guess it’s worth noting that Diaw is getting to the line more often and hitting a MUCH better percentage of his free throws. Anyway, so color me tickled pink about Boris’ newfound aggression on offense.

As for defense Boris has been fine, as usual. Against Memphis, he helped hold Zach Randolph to 15 points on 17 attempts. His main struggles so far have been with David West and Carlos Boozer (pre-injury). Eh, that stuff doesn’t worry me too much. Boozer was averaging near 23 points anyway.

But where Boris has really improved since Silas and Oakley, et al. began working with the team, is rebounding, assists and limiting turnovers. Believe it or not, according to Queen City Hoops, the Bobcats pace has not sped up under Silas, as he had said at the beginning of his tenure. What this means is that Boris isn’t getting more rebounds just because there are more rebounds to go around. Diaw is averaging a little over a rebound more per game more than with LB as head coach. What’s more is that that extra rebound is mostly offensive rebounds, which means the Bobcats are getting another possession on offense. As for assists and turnovers, this is less of Boris’ development than Silas’ offense development from Brown’s anemic, umm… “non-defense.” Silas has allowed the young players to become comfortable, notably Augustin and Henderson, who are both getting more time than ever. Whereas Larry Brown would berate D.J. until a puddle of urine formed around his feet (kidding!), Silas is taking the “catch more flies with honey” approach. And while there are setbacks and stumbles along the way, they’re making much more progress than Larry Brown was. But I digress. Anyway, Silas has the team playing more efficiently – though that’s not saying much. Whoever gets an open look better take it, in short. So when Boris drives and pulls a second defender, he can easily find Augustin or someone else spotting up for a shot. Bingo, more assists. And because the players aren’t afraid to shoot anymore, the turnovers that result from extra, extra passes are phased out for the most part, eliminating a full turnover per game for Diaw.

And all this improvement is mostly coming from the last six games. As a Bobcats fan, of course I hope his play continues to get better, but more than that, I hope that this indicates how well Silas and Oakley are coaching and instructing players on improving the game’s fundamentals.

And here’s my spreadsheet (which is correct as of Jan. 19, 2011) so y’all know I’m not just blowing smoke:

Click once, and then again on the following page to enlarge

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Lose to Themselves, Hornets

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(AP Photo)

The Bobcats returned home on the tail end of a back-to-back and lost to the Hornets 88-81, sputtering to the end after keeping it close for most of the game. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson who though shot poorly (15 points on 15 FGA) had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hornets were led by a dominant offensive performance by David West who had 26 points on 19 shot attempts and 8 boards.

As I mentioned above, the game was close, most of the time, with the lead never going above 6 points for either team until the closing minutes. However, with 2:38 left in the game, Tyrus Thomas pulled down a rebound over Emeka Okafor and swung his arms, intentionally elbowing Okafor in the face. The refs gave him a flagrant-2 and two technicals which amounts to an ejection. Aside from throwing the momentum fully to New Orleans, it gave Emeka Okafor two free throws and also possession of the ball after the free throws. The result: a four point lead doubled and Bobcats never recovered and began fouling like a blind Darryl Dawkins. It turned a possible win into a more than likely loss.

Recap | Box Score

Tids & Bits (forever forgoing the Yays and Nays)

  • Gerald Wallace – Fifteen points on 5-13 FG with a perfect 5-5 from the stripe. Eh, not great. His three turnovers were major problems as were his four shots that were blocked. Gerald has always had a slight problem with inside shot selection, but getting blocked 4 times is some Earl Boykins stuff. Moving on, his three rebounds leave much to be desired, but it seems his slack was picked up by Boris and Jackson (9 and 8 rebounds, respectively) as opposed to the Hornets. The Bobcats did out-rebounded the Hornets 43-34 (numerical palindromes, hell yeah!). Oh and Gerald had an outstanding coast-to-coast play. So there’s that (see below).
  • Boris Diaw – He was mediocre on offense, with 9 points from 4-11 shooting with one from downtown. The real problem was his defense (or lack thereof) on David West. West’s mid-range ability frustrated Diaw the whole night.
  • D.J. Augustin – His ability to distribute continues to impress me, as well as his consistency (7 assists) and his lack of turnovers (1 tonight). If only his shooting could get more consistent. he shot 3-10 from the field tonight, but at least he did get to the line for 4 four free throws.
  • Kwame Brown – Kwame was excellent tonight, both on offense and defense. He effectively shut down Okafor for most of the game and he rebounded really well (14 rebs) and he was efficient on offense with 5-6 FG. Too bad his free throw shooting is still bad (2-5). But I can deal with that with the rest of his performance.
  • Tyrus Thomas – He was decent, with 2-6 shooting and 4-4 FT for 8 points and 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Buuuuuut, he did have 3 turnovers and he screwed up big-time with the elbow to Okafor’s cranium. The one major problem I have with Tyrus is his recklessness. I love that he jumps out of the building for rebounds, but with the ball in his hands, he can get too out of control. This leads to picking up his dribble on the baseline and trying to make a nearly impossible fadeaway jump shot or throwing the ball away on bad passes.

Anything I missed, Baseliners?

Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers, in Philadelphia on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with the early start time at 2 p.m.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Win Streak Ends at Four After Being Narrowly Defeated by Celtics

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He's 38. He had 23 points. What?!? (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The Boston Celtics won by five points at home against the Bobcats on Friday night, with the score 99-94. The Bobcats were led by Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin (at least offensively) who had 20 and 19 points, respectively. On the other hand, Rajon Rondo put up a very Rajon Rondo-y night with 18 points and 13 assists along with Shaquille O’Neal turned back time, who gathered 23 points and 5 blocks. Ray Allen was also very effective at quelling the Bobcats effort to come back, draining two of his four treys in the fourth en route to 19 points.

Recap | Box Score

But don’t take the score for face value; it wasn’t as close as it sounds. The Bobcats managed to get 34 free throws at TD Garden, nine more than the Celtics. Furthermore, the Bobcats shot a mediocre 42.1% from the field while the Celtics shot 52.2%. That said, the Celtics are an elite team and even without Kevin Garnett, they’re a force to be reckoned with. I feel like I should be somewhat encouraged by how we only lost by five points, but I’m finding it a little hard to do so.

Tids & Bits (forgoing the yays/nays tonight)

  • D.J. Augustin – He did play decently on offense, recording 19 points on 5-11 shooting with 6 assists against Rajon Rondo. However, I couldn’t help noticing his deficiency on defense. He struggled to get through screens (which the Celtics are excellent at doing) and his height doesn’t lend any help either to guard Rondo. It just seemed like Augustin wasn’t doing anything to hinder Rondo’s play-making ability. In other words, it looked like Rondo was able to get the ball where it needed to be whenever he wanted against D.J.’s defense. Hell, Rondo even hit a three-pointer.
  • Stephen Jackson – Bleh. Thirteen points from 17 attempts. I’m not a fan of running the offense through Jackson. By all means pass it to him when he’s open or has a good look in the post, but don’t make him go into iso-mode. Usually he gets double-teamed and either puts up bad shots or turns the ball over.
  • Boris Diaw – Boris quietly had a decent night with 11 points on seven shots and 8 rebounds while defending Glen “Big Baby” Davis pretty well (11 points, 4-7 FG, 5 REB).
  • Kwame Brown – Ah, yes. Kwame, Kwame, Kwame. After playing decently lately, he was just bullied by Grandpa Shaq. I believe that’s all I need to say about that. Oh and at one point Shaq fell on Kwame and squished him.
  • The Bench – They played pretty well, outscoring the Celtics bench. Tyrus Thomas had 6 points and 5 rebounds in the first half, but he had trouble scoring in the second, only recording two more points after the half. However he did rebound well, grabbing nine boards. Livingston was decent as well. I thought he defended Rondo better than Augustin did, but for some reason, Knee Man just couldn’t take advantage of being matched up with Nate Robinson, who’s nearly a foot shorter. Livingston ended the game with 7 points on 3-7 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Nothing really notable about the other guys.
  • As for the Celtics, they’re still really beat up. Kevin Garnett is a few days from returning and they’re bringing Semih Erden off the bench to replace Shaq. But their starters play so well together on both sides of the ball, that it’s usually enough to beat most teams. Every starter on their squad put up double figures in points, with only Glen Davis getting fewer than 18 points.
  • Gerald Wallace – I don’t really have much to say about his game tonight, as it was normal Crash with 50% FG, 6 REB, 10 FTA. However, there was big news this morning when Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported that sources had told him that the Cavaliers were in discussions to trade the LeBron trade exception money to the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace (and possibly a lottery-protected first round pick). I don’t understand this at all for us. Gerald Wallace still has value. He’s a good defender, fills up the stat sheet and is decent on offense. He was even an All-Star last year. If these reports are true (who knows if they are), this is very disheartening. It pretty much says “We value lots of money more than Gerald Wallace’s talent.” And all this time I had thought cheap-o Bob Johnson was gone. *Sigh*

Anyway, this wasn’t the worst loss, and we managed to hold our own against a great team, so I’m not too disappointed. Not too much time to dwell on it anyway as we have the Hornets Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST at the Cable Box.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Gerald Henderson Wows, Bobcats Hand Wizards’ 18th Road Loss

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Gerald Henderson put on a show on Saturday, doing just about everything (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Again without co-captain Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats took revenge against the Washington Wizards for the previous 33-point loss with a 104-89 win led by Gerald Henderson’s 19 points. And in perhaps the most awesome stat of the young year, four of the five Bobcats’ starters nearly all had a double-double with Henderson and Augustin coming up short by one rebound and one assist, respectively.

Recap | Box Score

Although Tyrus Thomas had a rough game as he battled the Flu and a healing minor knee strain, this game seemed to say that Bobcats fans should be proud of the young core that’s developing under Paul Silas’ watch. D.J. Augustin led the team in assists with nine and as mentioned above, Gerald Henderson was outstanding on both sides of the ball. This isn’t to say that the older guys didn’t play well. Stephen Jackson had a rough shooting night but poured in 21 points and Boris Diaw had an efficient though casual night, with 11 points on 5-8 shooting. Augustin also added 20 points on 6-11 from the field.

Yays

  • Henderson – He was just great from beginning to end. His mid-range game was on fire and his defense on Nick Young was excellent as well. During the first quarter, Young drove and put up a half-assed shot, which Henderson swallowed whole, blocking it with his forearm. The kid ended the game with the incredible following stat line: 8-11 FG, 3-4 FT, 9 REB (1 OREB), 2 AST, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 19 PTS. Can we give this guy a nickname? I want to call him “The Kid” but KG had that one already. I got a suggestion from @clemsonrebekah of OG, which stands for “Other Gerald.” I like it because it’s short, simple and most importantly, true. Yes, he is the other Gerald on the team, but I mean that he plays similar to Gerald Wallace so the name would be fitting. Do y’all have any other suggestions? Write them in the comments!
  • Augustin – Yeah, I don’t think he’ll ever be a defensive stopper but when he shoots well and distributes like tonight, I’m very much fine with that. He had 9 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals and 20 points with 3 treys. I attended the game and from what I saw, D.J. passed well, shot well, and even played John Wall pretty well.
  • Shaun Livingston’s alley-oop dunk – How can people not be happy for this guy? He was a little off tonight but still played pretty solid, especially as a back-up point guard. In his best play of the night, he trailed Jackson on a two-on-one fast-break. Jackson drew the last defender and lobbed up the ball, which Knee Man double-clutched (to gain control of the ball) before flushing it through. I also love his pull-up jumper when he drives. His ability to elevate coupled with his height advantage over other guards allows him to rise and pop, usually with excellent results.
  • Diaw – I know, he didn’t even score that much! But he did frustrate Andray Blatche defensively and he shot efficiently, making the only three he shot ending with 5-8 FG for 11 points. He also continued to impress me as far as his aggressiveness. Too often I see him pass up nice looks but his drives into the paint are getting better. His rebounding is improving as well. Some people really want to trade him ASAP, but I think his skill set complements Tyrus’ pretty well and I think he’d work well in an uptempo offense, like in Phoenix.

Nays

  • Stack Jack – Yes kudos to him for leading the team in scoring with 21 points, but it took 16 shots to get there, only making 6. He also had 4 turnovers, most of which made me wince from the 200 level.

Meh

  • Tyrus Thomas’ shot selection – Tyrus was stymied by Washington’s interior defense, making only two shots out of 13. He miss every shot outside of the paint. However, he gets a pass tonight because he has gotten hit bad with outside problems – he is struggling with the Flu and hasn’t been able to keep food down in two days. And he’s still healing his strained knee. And he saved us against the Timberwolves. So yeah, I’ll keep him out of the “Nays” tonight. Not everyone can play like Michael Jordan with the Flu.

Odds ‘N Ends

  • Yes, um Mexican Don Draper? You can’t guard Javale McGee.
  • A quick note about John Wall: he’s good, and the scary thing is that he has a lot of room to grow. If I were him, I’d be working on my outside jumper a lot. He went 0-5 from deep tonight, despite being wide open on nearly every attempt. If he can start hitting those around 40% of the time, watch out. Perhaps the key to beating this young Wizards team is to keep them off the fast break. Wall is absolutely fantastic zooming down the court, often unstoppable.
  • The last time these two teams met, the Larry Brown-led Bobcats lost by 33 to a John Wall and Gilbert-less Washington team. In both games, the Bobcats were without Gerald Wallace. However, this time, the Bobcats were even more short-handed (Nazr and Diop out) and the Wizards had their full roster (Wall back and now with Rashard Lewis). And yet, the Bobcats won by 15. I know this is only one game, but couldn’t this be the perfect evidence that Larry Brown was just holding back this team? Heck, in that previous Wizards-Bobcats game, Dominic McGuire started and played 21 minutes and ended with zero points. Meanwhile, Gerald Henderson got 15 minutes. This time around, McGuire got 10 minutes off the bench and Henderson started and played 40 minutes.
  • Also, the Wizards are 0-18 on the road. Ouch.

Enjoy the win Bobcats fans. Next up is the Memphis Grizzlies. I think we’ll be OK as long as we don’t beat O.J. Mayo in Boo-Ray.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald@BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.

Bobcats Stink Up the 3rd Quarter – Why?

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Blech. On the plus side, he didn't try that shot again. (AP Photo)

If you follow the Bobcats fairly closely, you know as well as I that the Bobcats under Paul Silas have struggled in the third quarter lately.  This was no more evident than in yesterday’s game where the Bobcats turned a 16 point lead in the third quarter into a two-point deficit. Also impressive, the Bobcats failed to score a single point in about six minutes during the third while the Timberwolves went on a 11-0 run. The quintessential Bobcats collapse was on. How can this happen every game? What is going on with the team in the third quarter? Can anything be done?

So, last night I decided to grab some comfort food, sit down with my Tivo and make my way through the third quarter often watching in slow-motion. Let’s go through the defensive problems first:

  1. Rebounding – For whatever reason, the Kwame Brown rebounding monster that left the court after the first half did not return after the break. After walloping Kevin Love and all of the Timberwolves on the boards in the first half en route to 12 (!) rebounds, he only grabbed 2 rebounds in the second half. I think that Minny’s centers just came out in the second half with more focus and energy and decided to take control of the glass. Also, our depth at the center is laughably bad, even when they’re all healthy. In the third quarter, the Timberwolves had four offensive rebounds (11 total on the night) while the Bobcats had two (out of 16 total). Whatever it takes, this team needs to come out with more focus on rebounding in the third when teams make their adjustments.
  2. Allowing too much space and losing track of assignments – These are both “lack of focus” problems. As for the former, too often I saw Beasley given the room to knock down mid-range jump shots. Remember, holding someone to mid-range jumpers is only effective when those shots are well-contested – and against Beasley, who has a fantastic offensive skill set, this might not even be enough. Losing track of one’s defensive assignment didn’t happen as often, but it did occur enough that I had to make note of it. This most notably occurred when Kevin Love set a pick for Jonny Flynn near the end of the quarter. Flynn steered away form the pick and for some reason, both Livingston and Diaw drew to Flynn, leaving Love wide open for a three.
  3. Study opponents – I understand this isn’t exactly “defense” but there were some major lapses in preparation that came to fruition for the T-Wolves in the third. It’s no secret that Kevin Love has the range to hit from behind the arc, but for some reason the Bobcats let him go 2-3 from deep in the third quarter. Giving Beasley enough space to comfortably get up mid-range jump shots is unacceptable. Whether it’s the players’ faults for not executing or the staff’s for not drilling it in enough, this needs to get fixed. Know your opponent.

Oh God. Now to the problems on offense.

  1. No one could knock down a shot – It’s that simple. And although simple, this is a serious problem. Against teams that play tough interior defense, the Bobcats will struggle because they are composed mostly of slashers. Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw are great to stretch opposing defenses but when your main two shooters (Augustin and Jackson) are just off or injured, you’re going to have major problems. Luckily for us, Augustin found his shot in the fourth and Tyrus kept us in the game as well. But in the third, with Jackson out, D.J. was finding himself  missing on many shot attempts – most of them wide open.
  2. Poor shot selection – I’ll just talk about some specific points here. From what I saw, D.J. lost confidence in his shot, especially in the third quarter. When Diaw took to posting up in the third, he often drew D.J.’s defender which leaves Augustin nearly wide open. And yet, on one specific occasion I saw D.J. pass up the open three to dribble-drive and pull up 9 feet away for a floater. It was way short. Tyrus Thomas, though excellent on the night, still had his usual problem where he gets the ball along the baseline, gets trapped on a double-team, is forced to pick up his dribble and instead of passing out, he tries a fade-away jump shot that never lands.

But can these problems be corrected?

To a degree, yes. Most of these problems are fairly easy to fix. Force the players to concentrate on boxing out and rebounding. Solve the easy, energy-related problems. As for the inability to make shots, this isn’t as easily fixed. The Bobcats are mainly comprised of slashers and not shooters. And the shooters we do have aren’t extremely talented so when a couple of our best snipers are either injured or are just missing their shots, there is no backup plan. You just have to hope that the Basketball Gods are smiling upon you and that they will bless you with Eduardo Najera treys and Dominic McGuire baseline jumpers. That’s what should really worry us about these recent troubles. It’s a problem that goes far deeper than just gameplan; it’s a problem of roster talent.

- Cardboard Gerald

You can follow Cardboard Gerald, Dr. E, and ASChin on Twitter at @CardboardGerald, @BaselineDrE, and @BobcatsBaseline. You can find more of Cardboard Gerald’s writing at Bobcats Break and now at Stacheketball.