Clippers Decimate Road-Weary Bobcats

Standard

Believe it or not, this defense did not stop Blake Griffin. (AP Photo)

Recap | Box Score

It was a rough game tonight, from the beginning to the final buzzer.

Immediately after the tipoff, Los Angeles Clippers color-commentator, Ralph Lawler, called the Charlotte NBA team the “Charlotte Hornets” and their play-by-play guy, Michael Smith, said the coach was “Pete” Silas.

And though that didn’t have any impact on the game, it should have warned me that I was in for a bumpy Bobcats game that would end with them losing 103-88, ending the Bobcats’ three-game road win streak.

The real damage was done by Blake Griffin tonight, as everyone should have known. Coming into the game, I was a little worried that the Bobcats didn’t have a power forward as strong or athletic to defend Griffin.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers in the first half with an array of highlights, including an eye-popping 360 degree, reverse layup en route to 19 first-half points. The tired Bobcats simply couldn’t keep up and fell behind to a huge deficit in the third quarter. Then, like the young team they are, the Clippers let the Bobcats make a comeback effort, led by the bench. However, after the lead reached 11 points, L.A. regained their focus and beat the weary road opponents (JUST AS I PREDICTED).

Boris Diaw and whoever else tried to defend Griffin just could not control him. Whether it was Griffin’s strong post moves, his quickness, or his amazing leaping ability and fervor for getting rebounds, no Bobcats player could defend him at all. In fact, most of his mistakes were unforced, including a huge missed dunk. He would end the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 11-23 shooting. Admittedly, it’s not the most efficient stat line, but his presence was felt on every play. The Bobcats began to double-team him – in the second quarter. He was that good. And the only player who had a good shot at defending him was injured (Tyrus Thomas).

But I can’t just put all of the loss on Griffin’s night. The Bobcats were on the tail end of a back-to-back with this being their fourth game in a six-game road trip. The Clippers, on the other hand, last played on Wednesday. The effect was enormous. Charlotte came out at a decent clip, but faded fast, unable to keep up with the Clippers’ pace and energy. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, when Silas let loose the bench players, that the Bobcats regained any type of offensive scoring.

The Bobcats starters were simply atrocious, except for Stephen Jackson, who seems to have emerged from his January slump. Jackson went for 15 points on 5-11 shooting from the field, but the rest of the starters combined for 9-30 FG and 29 points. The fatigue was obviously overwhelming, considering the Bobcats had just finished an overtime thriller the previous night. Many shots were short and the Bobcats were lazy with their passing. D.J. Augustin, who has been outstanding as of recently, finished with four assists and three turnovers. As a team, the Bobcats had 17 turnovers.

The bench played admirably, reeling in a 25-point deficit to 11 with 7:37 to go in the fourth, but L.A. regained their focus and squished the Bobcats like an annoying mosquito. Gerald Henderson continued to show his talent, pouring in 14 points on only six field goal attempts. Shaun Livingston just had an awful night, hitting no shots from the field and turning the ball over three times. However, he did get to the line for six free throws, all of which he made. Derrick Brown had five points and five rebounds and Matt Carroll scored eight points all in garbage time. Nazr Mohammed was also effective off the bench with five points and 5 rebounds.

The Clippers were also led by Baron Davis (12 points, 11 assist, 6 rebounds), Randy Foye (21 points, 4 three-pointers, 4 steals, 2 blocks), and Ryan Gomes (6-8 FG, 3-4 3P, 18 points).

The Bobcats continue on their six-game road trip on Monday against the Utah Jazz.

By the way, get your tickets for the Clippers when they come to Charlotte now.

DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS, TRUST ME. (AP Photo)

- 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 Down Suns, Start 2-0 on West Coast Swing

Standard

Bobcats play loose and shoot fifty percent from the field on way to a 114-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns.  Cats improve to 19-25 and start their first major road trip of the season 2-0.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

Thanks to some international broadband issues, I didn’t get to see much of this game so will intersperse some observations from writers around the Association.

  • Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin in double figures?  Wha?  Clearly not the team leaders (yet) but have shown enough promise under Silas that the ’08 and ’09 Drafts look absolutely salvageable.  That’s a big deal in Bobcats country.  Henderson’s blocks on Gortat and Grant Hill were major game shifters.
  • Rick Bonnell really likes what he’s seeing from Henderson too, going as far as saying he’ll help fill the void left by Tyrus Thomas.  Also love the point he makes about Larry Brown vs. Silas.  It’s like going from Larry David to Mike “Brady Bunch” Brady.  All is good in the ‘hood.
  • Really like what I’m seeing from Crash and Stephen Jackson thus far on the road trip.  Those two shooting a combined 15-33 on the night is a massive improvement from the stinker the two captains dropped on Atlanta last week.  Hope Silas finally talked some sense into them.
  • UNDERRATED: Boris Diaw’s play under Silas.  You won’t see it in the stats (although he’s added close one full assist more per game in January) but Boris looks much more motivated now than he ever did with LB.  Big game against his old squad tonight going for 18/6/5 with a big boy rebound on the final possession to ice it.  When fans from your old team still talk about your exploits two plus years on from a trade, you know you got the better end of the deal.
  • Apparently, MJ is making the West Coast trip with the team.  Is it any coincidence that Jordan’s level of involvement with the team always results in consistently higher performance?  Maybe Charles Oakley’s hire just gave MJ more incentive to hangout on the bench.  It’s the NBA equivalent to “Friday.”

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans.

-ASChin

Bobcats, Brown Snag One From Sac-Town

Standard

Jordan Watches Kwame Brown Beat The Kings

The Charlotte Bobcats pulled out a win in Sacramento to start their longest road trip thus far this season. Despite several bumbling moments late in the game, the Cats kept the Kings at arms-length throughout to notch a 94-89 win over their host in Sacramento.

AP Recap | Box Score

1st Half Notes

The game started ugly, with a lot of stoppages due to a hyped up referee crew. With so many whistles, neither team established a groove and both squads had to sit big men due to early foul trouble (Boris Diaw for Charlotte and DeMarcus Cousins for Sacramento). The first quarter was an exhibition in bad shooting.  The Bobcats could maybe blame this on time-zone difference, and the Kings could say that they suffered coming off of a back-to-back in Portland.  So, the poor shooting allowed for a load of rebounds and most of those came in the form of offensive boards for the home team.

Sacramento has a good reputation for their rebounding, and it appeared that Charlotte’s crew intentionally tried to avoid focusing on just battling them on the boards. The Bobcats were working to move the ball in transition and score quick, easy points. Had they stood around to the paint after shots, the game would have moved much slower and given the advantage to the Kings. This “strategy” led to a double-digit lead in the second quarter, where Gerald Wallace started to take over. Crash has been a bit “ho-hum” lately, and it was nice to see him drive to the hoop and finish strong. He’s capable of a lot more than he’s shown over the last month, and the team will need more of his presence on this road trip.

The Kings have some decent, young talent and guard Beno Udrih put a lot of work in to use his size against DJ Augustin early in the game. Tyreke Evans was covered by the taller Stephen Jackson, but scored easily to start. Surprisingly, Kings forward Jason Thompson showed a load of offensive ability and hustle during his first half minutes. Despite the bright spots for the Sacramento’s team, the Bobcats began to establish a flow on offense in the second quarter and Kwame Brown’s presence grew larger and larger on the defensive side of the floor. Things were rolling for the Cats to close the period, and it was great to see the guys building chemistry on the road trip as they talked and joked in the time-out huddles.

2nd Half Notes

Foul trouble was the theme for the start of the second-half of this game. Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera both entered the 3rd Quarter with 3 fouls apiece. Diaw quickly snagged his fourth and it seemed as thought the Frenchman had barely seen the floor during the match. Najera was plugged in at the Power Forward spot, and handled his promotion excellently by nailing an open 3-pointer and getting to line on quick cuts. Stephen Jackson was fairly quiet throughout the first 2 quarters and somehow picked up 3 fouls in less than 2 minutes of the 3rd period, leading the Bobcats into the penalty very quickly. Interestingly, Kwame Brown kept taking the ball up strong and could not get the refs to call foul on the Kings defenders. Finally, after several bumps and slaps, DeMarcus Cousins was called for his 4th foul mid-way through the 3rd. Despite the lop-sided calls, Brown never lost his cool and kept working hard on both ends of the floor to snag 11 rebounds in the period.

After a streak-for-streak match by the teams to open the final quarter, the Bobcats found themselves struggling to establish offensive consistency. Shaun Livingston showed a few nice driving, pull-up shots, but that wasn’t nearly enough to settle the Kings momentum. Carl Landry threw down a strong dunk (with the beat of Snoop’s classic “What’s My Name?” playing over the arena soundsystem) to spark a rally for Sacramento. During their push, the Kings enjoyed Nazr Mohammed’s lack of presence on defense and made him look even more “ugh” on offense.

Coach Paul Silas must have seen enough, and unleashed Kwame Brown onto Sac-town about half-way through the 4th. Quickly, Brown forced Cousins into his 6th foul and eliminated the Kings’ best big man. While Stephen Jackson stepped up, Gerald Wallace went quiet for many of the final minutes. The most consistent force for the Cats was clearly Kwame Brown. Teammates worked to feed him and he defended the paint, allowing them to run out on the break. Boris Diaw re-entered the game late, and kept up a habit of making unnecessary passes until knocking down a 3-pointer that should have been the “nail in the coffin” shot with 1 minute left. Unfortunately, Charlotte finished ugly and left the door open for the Kings to cut it close. The Bobcats settled down when it counted and survived the scare to finish the game like professionals, winning 94-89.

Loose Notes:

Kwame Brown had a big double-double with 13 pts / 18 rebs! In a post-game interview, Kwame credited Asst. Coach Charles Oakley for pushing him during practice.

Boris Diaw made some bad fouls to keep him on the bench. While Najera filled in adequately, this could have been a big game for Boris to exploit the youth and inexperience of the opposing youngsters for the Kings.

Michael Jordan made the trip to see his club in Sacramento. It was also reported that he was at the Blazers-Kings game in Portland the night before. With Rod Higgins at his side, is he doing a little personnel scouting or just supporting his team on their big West Coast swing?

Gerald Henderson never found a rhythm in this game. He had a really sweet hang-in-the-air scoop lay-up early in the game, but showed nothing else. Dominic McGuire failed to impress, as well. D-Mac was forced to guard a lot bigger forwards, so he did well just to survive.

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a topic that’s been on the minds of a lot of Cats fans – rebuilding. It seems like the savvy thing to say is that a small-market team needs to follow the “build through the draft” model to succeed. If the San Antonio Spurs are the the prototype of this model, it should be noted that they are an anomaly. David Robinson and Tim Duncan don’t come around too often, and the Spurs struck gold twice. When folks (and fellow Baseliners) preach the “rebuild through the draft” method, we need to realize that a team like the Sacramento Kings are the most likely outcome of this plan. I hear that the Kings were really good about a decade a go. What’s been going on out there since?  Hmmm?

Bonus Link : Recap By Sactown Royalty

-Mike

The Bobcats After (a Little Over) the Halfway Point

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Bobcats Edge Sixers; Thomas Out 8 Weeks

Standard

AP/Chuck Burton

The Bobcats rode a career high 31 points from DJ Augustin and 3 clutch buckets by Gerald Henderson to a 100-97 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night at the Cable Box.  However, news that Tyrus Thomas has suffered a meniscus tear and will be out for 8 weeks certainly casts a pall over the warm glow of victory.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

News filtered out before gametime that Tyrus had woken up from a post-shootaround/pre-game nap with a balky left knee and wouldn’t play.  Then during the game, news broke that an MRI had shown a lateral meniscus tear.  Thomas will presumably have arthroscopic surgery in the coming days; the early estimate is that he’ll be out for 8 weeks.  It’s unclear when or how the injury occurred.

This is a big blow for several reasons.  First, even though Thomas’s raw stats aren’t all that impressive (21 minutes per game, 11 points/6 rebounds), advanced statistics show that he’s arguably the Bobcats most efficient player (Hollinger’s PER has him at a team-high 19.7).  Second, though Thomas doesn’t start, he almost always finishes games and has proven to be a clutch player, especially on the defensive end.  Third, with Gana Diop already gone for the season, this makes the Bobcats precariously thin in the middle.  Boris is going to have to play some 5, and Gerald Wallace and Dom McGuire are going to have to pitch in at the 4.

Back to the game.  DJ came out red hot, hitting three three-pointers in the opening minutes, then repeatedly getting to the hole for layups.  He finished the first half with 25 points on 10-11 shooting.  Isn’t Jrue Holiday supposed to be a really good defender?  In the second half, the Sixers adjusted by trapping DJ, who was only able to add 6 more points to his tally.  Nonetheless, a masterful performance and career high for DJ, with 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 8 assists/3 turnovers to boot.

As you might guess, this one was pretty close the whole way.  The Cats led by 8 a couple of times, including as late as with 8:30 left in the fourth, but couldn’t put it away.  Without Tyrus Thomas, the Cats were going with a small crunchtime lineup of DJ/Henderson/Jack/Wallace/Diaw.  With around 4 minutes left, Thaddeus Young took advantage with two straight buckets off offensive rebounds to put the Sixers up one.

From there, Gerald Henderson emerged as the unlikely hero.  Henderson had already hit a jumper from the right elbow off a simple curl play earlier in the quarter.  Down one, 1:40 left, the Cats run the same curl play for Henderson, who hits.  Sixers miss, then Henderson hits again from the right elbow, this time after dribbling around a Diaw screen.  Cats up 94-91, under a minute left.

Henderson almost blows it on the ensuing Sixers possession by fouling Igoudala on a three attempt, but Igoudala only hit two of the three free throws to pull the Sixers within one.  The Bobcats stayed with the hot hand on the following possession, feeding Henderson on the right wing again on the same curl play — and he hit again to push the lead back out to three and effectively end the game.

The comfort level and confidence that Henderson had in the fourth quarter was really nice to see.  Especially because it looks like that, whenever feasible, the Bobcats will likely go with a small lineup including Henderson in the fourth quarter while they’re without Tyrus Thomas.

Notes

  • Best game from Nazr Mohammed in awhile: 15 points on 7-12 FG and 7 rebounds.  Obviously it would be nice if Nazr can step it up over the next few weeks.
  • Stephen Jackson’s shooting slump continues: 5-16 FG and 0-3 3 PT.  Quiet game from Gerald Wallace also: 6 points, 3 rebounds.  (/////Dr. E drums fingers on desk, looks around, wonders if anyone is thinking what he’s thinking.)
  • Bobcats are 17-24 — good for 7th place in the East currently.
  • Next game is Saturday night, at home, against the Hawks, 7 PM ET tip.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Too Clutch for Chicago

Standard

Bobcats march into Chi-town and outlast the Bulls 83-82 in a game that came down to clutch baskets and poor officiating.  Charlotte improves to 16-24, Chicago drops to 28-14.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • The Return of Gerald Wallace! Crash has looked rather ordinary since coming back from his on again/off again ankle injury but finally returned to the Wallace of old in the fourth quarter which featured a nice 7 point personal run highlighted by a textbook Crash putback slam.  A thing of beauty.  I haven’t seen Wallace elevate like that all season.  Good to know that he still has it in him.  Only 13 points but 16 big rebounds for the captain.
  • Stephen Jackson made some love to pressure with a beautiful top of the key fadeaway jumper that put the Bobcats up 81-80.  JAX followed that one by nailing two critical free throws to close out the game.  Another one of those weird Jackson games where he killed in the first quarter and then disappeared for the 2nd and 3rd only to come back and close out strong.  Sensing a pattern here.  Both Gerald and JAX shot an ugly 5-14 a piece but made shots when it counted.
  • Derrick Rose ain’t bad. Sure, his 28 shot attempts were more than the rest of the Bulls starting 5 combined but he hit half of ‘em.  Rose is such an athletic force at the point guard position and combined with the League’s rule change to prevent the hand check, has forged him into a near unstoppable offensive force.  Really like what I’m seeing from Rose in just his third year.  Easily a top 5 PG and definite MVP candidate.  Rose’s ability to get into the lane and not only get off good shots but rebound his own misses and see over the trees for the open man is unparalleled.  Can’t think of any other current point with his type of advantages.
  • Considering the size differential, Rose should be eating D.J. Augustin alive during their head to head matchups but that hasn’t been the case over their first three years in the League.  Augustin does a good job of staying in front of Rose and the Bobcats do a nice job of switching a bigger defender on him when Rose does get by.  Augustin has also historically made Rose work on the other end and did a decent job of it again tonight by dropping 15 points and hitting half his shots.  Coach Silas tried to mix it up a bit with Shaun Livingston in the 2nd and 3rd but while he has the length, I just don’t think Shaun has the lateral quickness to stay with Rose thus far coming back from the knee injury.  Will he ever?
  • Solid efforts from Diaw, Mohammed and the Bobcats bench in a near ugly game that had each team shoot (barely) 40% from the field.  Kwame Brown continues to boggle the mind. Three VERY PRETTY buckets in the first quarter and he looked like he was going to repeat the double double he dropped on Chicago back in CLT but was constantly out of position on the defensive end so Silas yanked him early and he never really got going again.
  • Finally, the officiating. In the first half you had two TURBO OBVIOUS travels by D.J. Augustin (on a fast break 3 & 1/2 step scoop to the hoop) and Boris Diaw.  Then in the waning seconds of the game, the tide swung the other way as the refs handed the Bulls not one but two additional opportunities after turning the ball over with just 8.7 seconds left on the clock.  Embarrassingly inconsistent and I hope the tapes are being reviewed as I type.

The Cats may or may not make the Playoffs.  They may blow up the team.  One thing is for certain: The Paul Silas Bobcats are a hell of a lot more fun to watch than they were under his predecessor.  Keep it comin’ Sugar Bear.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin