Bobcats Blow Fourth Quarter Lead In Loss To Raptors

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Raptors, 3/29/10


The Charlotte Bobcats dropped another winnable game to the Toronto Raptors, 103-101, on Monday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats led by six points to start the final period before falling behind.  A mad scramble in the closing 90 seconds resulted in one last chance for the Cats, down two, to tie or win.  However, Raymond Felton couldn’t connect with a cutting Tyson Chandler and the ball bounced out of bounds to ensure the loss.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Things looked pretty good for the Cats after three quarters.  No one was playing extraordinarily; instead it was a pretty well-rounded effort.  The Cats had contained Chris Bosh, and kept Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu very much in check.

But some issues lurked.  Stephen Jackson was in full-on “I’m more interested in barking at the refs instead of beating the Raptors” mode after being in foul trouble all game.  The Cats had not been able to turn the Raps over very much (10 Raptor turnovers, only 7 fast break points for the Bobcats).  The Cats were outrebounded 38-31.

Furthermore, the Cats had not taken enough advantage of the Raptors notoriously bad defense (only 24 points in the paint).  Being without the high-flying antics of  Tyrus Thomas (ankle) and the low-post scoring of Nazr Mohammed (back, still) didn’t help here, but the Raps also usually give up more penetration into the lane than the Cats were able to manage.

These shortcomings allowed the Raps a chance to make a few clutch shots in the decisive fourth quarter and overcome the Cats.  Jarrett Jack, Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu all hit big threes.  Jarrett Jack then added three free throws after drawing a foul on Raymond outside the arc to push the Raps lead to 100-93 with just under 3 minutes left.

From there, Stephen Jackson’s five straight points and the Raptors’ 3-6 performance from the free throw line conspired to make the finish interesting.  With 13 seconds left, the Cats got the ball down two.  With Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace camped out along the three-point line for the kickout, Raymond Felton drove into the lane, moving from right to left.  As the defense collapsed on Raymond, Tyson Chandler cut to the basket.

If you want to blame it on Tyson, say that he didn’t take a great angle to the basket on his cut (or that he probably wouldn’t have caught the pass if it came right to him — probably true).  If you want to blame it on Raymond (more appropriate) say that he flat-out threw an errant pass.

Whatever you choose, they didn’t connect.  The ball bounced out of bounds with a couple seconds left, leaving the Raps to simply complete an inbounds play to steal the win.

Tidbits

  • I’ll keep my bitching brief, because “he is who he is” and on balance, he’s been a big positive for the Cats.  But if Jack could channel half the vitriol he directs at the officials towards his opponent, he’d get that All-Star recognition he supposedly covets so much.  The Cats would also probably get an extra couple of wins over 82 games.  In the third quarter, after fouling Bargnani, getting under his skin and drawing a tech on the Italian, and hitting the technical free throw, Jack couldn’t stop yapping at the ref about the loose ball foul that started it all, eventually garnering a tech of his own.  Pointless…
  • Tyson Chandler rolled an ankle in the second quarter and left for the the locker room.  After a retape (I presume) he did return.
  • Owner Michael Jordan was back in his benchside seat and got into it with the refs in the fourth quarter when the Raps were taking the game over.  Didn’t help…
  • Shame about that last turnover for Raymond — before it he had played another really nice game with 18 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 3PT), 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
  • The loss drops the Cats to 38-35 and 7th place in the East.  We’re 1.5 games behind 6th place Miami and 2 games ahead of 8th place Toronto.  Tonight’s loss gives Toronto the season series at 2-1, should we finished tied with them.  Hollinger’s playoff odds are currently predicting that we’ll finish in 7th place, 1 game behind Miami.
  • 9 games left: 5 home, 4 away.  Next one is Monday night at home against the 76ers — follow me on Twitter for in-game tweets.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Defeat Wizards For Third Straight Win

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Wizards, 3/26/10


The Charlotte Bobcats completed possibly the easiest week in franchise history at 3-o with a Friday night home victory over the Washington Wizards, 107-96.  The Cats weren’t exactly dominating; but the Wizards weren’t exactly challenging, either.

AP recap here |  Box score here

This game was eerily similar to the Timberwolves game just two nights ago — the first quarter was close, with not much defense being played and Stephen Jackson getting off to a fast start.  Then the Bobcats gradually pulled away.

The Wizards staged a mini-run early in the fourth quarter to pull within four at 85-81, but the Cats responded in typical fashion — turning up the defensive intensity and getting a few easy buckets.  Soon all was right with the world again.  A Stephen Jackson three put it away at 101-86 with about four minutes left, allowing Larry Hughes, Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown a couple minutes of mop-up duty to finish the night off.

The Cats won all kinds of statistical battles: they finished the night at 55% FG (Wizards 48%) by dominating the paint, scoring 50 points there to the Wiz’s 28.  The Cats outrebounded the Wiz 34-26 and blocked 8 shots to the Wiz’s 3.

Individually, the Cats top four of Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw were fantastic.  They combined for 74 points on 28-44 FG (64%).  Felton in particular shot 8-10 for 19 points and added 11 rebounds.

Perhaps most importantly, the starters played so well that none of them had to play more than 34 minutes.  As the Bobcats get things tuned up for the playoffs, it will be important that the regulars are healthy and rested, new guys like Tyrus Thomas and Larry Hughes are acclimated, and Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown are ready for important minutes if needed.

Tidbits

  • The Cats are now 38-34 overall and 27-8 at home.  Miami won tonight to move to 39-34 and ahead of the Cats into 6th place in the East.
  • Cool stat from the AP article: in playing the Wizards, Timberwolves, then Wizards again this week, the Bobcats became only the third team in NBA history to play three straight games against teams with losing streaks of 10+ games.
  • My comments about Baby Blatche and the Wizards here on Twitter.
  • The Cats have the weekend off; next game is Monday night at the Cable Box against 8th place Toronto.  Interestingly, Toronto faces off against Miami on Sunday night, so they’ve got a back-to-back against the two squads directly in front of them for the playoffs.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Cruise To Victory Over T-Wolves

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Charlotte Bobcats vs T-Wolves, 3/24/10

The Charlotte Bobcats rode Stephen Jackson’s 37 points to a relatively easy victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 108-95, on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.

AP recap here | Box score here

Though the Bobcats began a relatively easy stretch in the schedule last night in Washington DC, you wouldn’t have known it by watching the Cats ugly overtime victory against the Wizards.  But tonight, at home against the Timberwolves, the Cats took care of business like a playoff team should.

After a loose first 17 minutes or so of the game in which little defense was played, the T-Wolves had opened up a 9 point lead at 43-34.  But over the next 6 minutes, the Bobcats turned the defensive intensity way up, blocking shots and forcing turnovers en route to a dominating 20-0 run.

A Ramon Sessions bucket with under a minute left in the half finally stopped the bleeding for the T-Wolves, but the damage had been done.  The Cats had exerted their dominance; they took a 10-point lead into halftime and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Jack Is Back (?)

Stephen Jackson’s recent struggles have been well-documented.  He’s shooting 37% from the field in the last 10 games — that includes a brutal 13-53 (24.5%) from 3-point distance over the period.  He’s finally revealed that he has a nagging left hand injury that may be contributing and warned that it will likely continue to bother him.

But that was all forgotten tonight.  Jack came out on fire, hitting his first three shots on the way to 17 first quarter points.  He finished with 37 (15-24 FG, 4-6 3PT, 3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.  Good riddance to Jack’s slump.

We can’t expect 30+ every night from Jack, but if we can get 25+ AND play the kind of defense that was on display in the second quarter, the Cats may very well make some noise in the playoffs.

Tidbits

  • The win runs the Bobcats record to 37-34 overall and 26-8 at home.  We’re back in a tie with Miami for the 6th spot currently, and get the nod as we hold the tiebreaker over them.
  • Gerald Wallace: 23 points on 9-16 FG, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks
  • Raymond Felton: 16 points on 8-10 FG, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 8 assists/0 turnovers
  • Larry Hughes came off the bench for 14 minutes; he looked a little better tonight, but still awfully rusty overall.  If he can work himself into game shape over the next few weeks (same goes for Nazr) we’ll have quite the deep bench for the playoffs.
  • Next game is Friday night at the Cable Box against the Wizards, who have now lost 13 in a row and continue to deal with distractions.  I’ll be there and tweeting as usual.

-Dr. E

Cats Pass Overtime Reform In DC

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Wizards 3/23/10

In sharp contrast to their overtime no-show last week in Atlanta, the Charlotte Bobcats went for the kill and dominated the extra period against the Washington Wizards Tuesday night to break a two game losing streak and maintain their hold of 7th place in the conference.

AP recap here | Box score here

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Hit Jump Shots

Despite thoroughly dominating the Wiz in the paint (at last count I had the Points in Paint differential at 50-20) the Bobcats couldn’t buy a decent jumper.  Check out the shot chart: The Bobcats only made one three pointer and a total of four shots outside of twenty feet for the ENTIRE GAME + OVERTIME.  The poor outside shooting dropped the Bobcats’ overall shooting percentage for the game to 39.4% even though interior players Boris Diaw, Theo Ratliff and Tyrus Thomas shot better than 50% from down low.

Stephen Jackson takes most of the blame again tonight.  I’m hoping that his recent struggles shooting the ball are just the result of a slump.  It’s not pretty, folks (Warning: These stats are NSFW): For the month of March, JAX is 38% from the floor, 25% from downtown while adding over 3 turnovers a game.  Yet inexplicably the Bobcats went to Jackson at the end of regulation for the win with just :08 on the clock.  JAX measures, fakes and finally launches a guarded three.  Clank.  We’re goin’ to OT.

Once in OT, it was again the Raymond Felton show – Ray hit two quick buckets to set the tone for the extra period, solidifying his place as the Bobcats most clutch scorer.

MJ Has Assembled A Lot of Talent

The Wiz announcers brought it up and I’ll bring it up again, the Bobcats have a lot of talent on this roster.  While it is frustrating to watch a team with so much talent struggle in a road win against a lottery squad like the Wiz, you can’t help but be amazed at how deep the team is compared to roster just two seasons ago.  Tyson Chandler continued his recent progress with eight boards and five points in 19 minutes.  Tyrus Thomas looked solid with a 7 & 7 off the pine in 20 minutes.  D.J. showed flashes of competence.
Lord Stephen Graham, who dropped consecutive 19 point games in Crash’s absence last week didn’t even make it off the bench but is now a proven asset.  The young players stuck to the end of the bench (Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown and Alexis Ajinca) have all shown promise.  The team’s two injured centers (Nazr Mohammed & Gana Diop), despite unsightly contracts, are legitimate players in the League.  Oh, and then there’s the starting center…

Theo Ratliff

If I’m Dwight Howard, then I’m enrolling in the Theo Ratliff mentoring program this summer.  The 15 year vet was supposed to be a last ditch insurance policy in case Diop, Mohammed or Chandler couldn’t make it back.  Turns out that the Cats stole a 6ppg, 4.5rpg, 1bpg quality big man at the deadline for nothing.  He hits his free throws too.  Theo is 20-21 from the line in March — that’s good for 95% from the stripe.  Ratliff played great again tonight against the Wiz dropping 10 points and 7 boards.  What’s most amazing about the 36 year old is how spry he is after all these years.  Obviously genetics and body type help — he’s more in the mold of a Kareem or Mutumbo than an O’Neal or Walton — but damn, I never saw this type of performance coming.

Bullets

  • I’m sure Chad Ford and John Hollinger would love the Wizards’ future.  Unfortunately the present pretty much sucks.  Their players look very skilled but very raw.  I’m not sure if Flip Saunders is the right type of coach to grow these young players into a contender.  I’m certain that this isn’t what he signed up for as the Wiz seemed primed to make a Playoff push with an aggressive offseason that brought in sharpshooter Mike Miller and bench sparkplug Randy Foye from Minny in exchange for Ricky Rubio-induced blueball.
  • Speaking of Minny (whom the Cats will be facing off against at home on Wednesday night), not only do the Wizards employ the T’Wolves former head coach in Flip Saunders but they’ve also brought everyone’s favorite Roswellian and former Wolves PG, Sam Cassell, into the mix as an assistant.  I wonder if we’ll ever catch Cassell flaunting his phantom elephant testicles after diagramming a good play.
  • The Wolves game is the start of a five game homestand for the ‘Cats.  If they can take care of business in at least four of those (especially against TOR early next week), then they’ll have pretty much locked up their first Playoff appearance.

Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Heat Out-Hustle Bobcats in Ugly Loss

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Charlotte Bobcats@Heat 3/20/10

Another day, another winnable game lost — this time a wasted opportunity against a fellow Eastern Conference Playoff contender.  The Miami Heat do nothing special in this one except for playing a little less worse than the Bobcats and win the game 77-71, leapfrogging Charlotte in the standings to take over sixth place by a half game.

AP recap here | Boxscore here

It’s the Little Things That Count

Dwayne Wade hardly dominated from a scoring perspective (6-18 from the field) but his fingerprints were all over the Heat’s win.  Wade registered 5 blocks including two MIND BLOWING rejections (one in waning seconds of the first half on Tyson Chandler and the other on Tyrus Thomas in the open court midway through the fourth quarter) and nine, count ‘em nine assists to go along with five boards and fourteen points.  The very definition of a leader, DWADE did whatever he could to put the Heat in a position to win.

Fugly Stats

Bobcats shot 29.2% from the field and commit 5 TOs.  You just can’t win a game like this folks.  The final margin of victory would’ve been much greater for Miami had they not spotted the ‘Cats with an extra fourteen free throw attempts (20 compared to 34).  Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace take most of the blame here by going for a combined 8-33 from the field.  It wasn’t like the Heat were playing suffocating full court defense, the ‘Cats just weren’t hitting anything.  Fatigue could be an excuse as Charlotte just came off of Friday night’s OT loss at Atlanta but with the stakes this high this close to Playoff time, it’s just not an acceptable excuse.  The ‘Cats just weren’t moving the ball enough and were settling for too many one and done long jumpers.

Amazingly, as bad as the Bobcats played against the Heat they had the game tied 61 with just 8:59 to go in the 4th.  Miami was just closing out quarters strong and the 4th was no different — a 10-0 run put this baby to sleep.

Bullets

  • Some Positive News: Tyson Chandler looked decent for once.  He played 33 minutes and grabbed eleven boards and swatted three shots.  He ran the floor well and looked engaged mentally.  As down as I am on Chandler, having him play well could only do good things for the Bobcats both short-term (teaming with Nazr Mohammed as a two-headed center platoon) and long-term (elevating his trade-bait status going into the offseason).
  • Seeing that I’m also down on D.J. Augustin, I should at least offer some constructive criticism: D.J. needs to work on a stop & pop jumper from about 15 feet and a quick & crafty floater from the paint.  As of right now, the only outcome to Augustin’s dribbling into the lane is a blocked shot or a turnover.  At least with a floater and a Nash-like stop & pop he could get his shot off before anyone has a chance of swatting it away.
  • Larry Hughes made his debut at 10:30 in the 2nd and promptly had his shot swatted by Dorrell Wright.  Yes, there were lots of blocked shots in this game by Miami (13 to be exact).
  • Sparse crowd in Miami.  Looked about as bad as the Pacers crowd last week in Indy.
  • Right before the half the Heat broadcast team put together a little video package featuring the Greatest Centers in the Heat’s 22 year history.  Sad.  The Hornets could be doing something similar back in the CLT.  The Carolinas are all about tradition and it would have been great to walk into the Cable Box and see LJ, DC, Muggsy, Glen Rice and Zo’s jerseys’ hanging from the rafters.
  • Quentin Richardson Sighting!  The journeyman gunner dropped six threes in the first half, breaking a Heat team record.

At 35-34, the Bobcats are only a half game over .500 and just a half game up on Toronto for 7th place in the conference.  Fortunately the ‘Cats have the lowly Wizards twice this week sandwiching a home date against the T’Wolves.  If they don’t go 3-0 heading into the 29th home game against Toronto, then something is very, very wrong with this team.

Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Joe Johnson Sends Bobcats Home at the Buzzer

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Charlotte Bobcats@Hawks 3/19/10


Wow.  Exciting finish to an otherwise pedestrian game as Raymond Felton and Joe Johnson exchange clutch shots in the final 3.8 seconds of overtime.  Final score: Hawks 93, ‘Cats 92.

AP recap here | Box score here

The Bobcats Should Have Won This Game

You can’t really blame Joe Johnson for the loss.  Up by ten points midway through the 4th quarter, the Bobcats had numerous opportunities to put the game away.  Turnovers (15) and poor bench play (outscored 28-15) hurt throughout but look at the final three plays of regulation to see where the game was really lost:

Up by four with a little more than 2:00 on the clock, the Bobcats proceed to:

  • Possession One: Raymond Felton forced drive and miss at the end of the shot clock on a busted play that was supposed to go to either Stephen Jackson or Boris Diaw.
  • Possession Two: Stephen Jackson two missed free throws.
  • Possession Three: Boris Diaw passes up a two-footer in the lane for a Theo Ratliff missed ten footer.

Regulation over, Hawks tie it up to send it to OT.

Meanwhile in OT the Bobcats are KILLED by JAX’s four consecutive missed 3-pointers.  While it’s understood that Jackson is the team’s first scoring option, I’m very curious as to how his teammates are going to react to his decision making tonight.  JAX wasn’t feeling it from downtown all evening and ended up going 1-7 from behind the arc.

Joe Johnson finally got hot in the 4th quarter and OT after struggling for most of the game and then emphatically sealed the win at the buzzer with a contested jumper over Raymond Felton.

Bullets

  • Not only did Raymond have a great game with 25 points (on 11-19 shooting) in 46 minutes but he had the two clutch baskets in OT that might have won the game if not for Johnson’s heroics.  The weird line-drive floater in the lane with 3.8 to go in OT was surpassed only by his “Rumblin, Fumblin, Stumblin” fast break layup in traffic a minute earlier.  One could only hope they Ray will learn to time his game winners a little closer to the buzzer from this point on.
  • As mentioned above, the Bobcats bench was outclassed – that was the difference that kept ATL in the game during a first half when their starters were struggling.  Jamal Crawford continues to torment the Bobcats (16 points) no matter what jersey he happens to be wearing.
  • Raymond’s backup, D.J. Augustin, served up another DPBCI (Did Play But Completely Ineffective).  Seven minutes, 0-2 from the field, 2 assists, 2 fouls, 1 turnover.  So glad that we don’t have Brook Lopez lumbering down the lane.
  • Gerald Wallace with a big first game back from the ankle injury.  Crash was mostly MIA in the first half but dropped 18 points after the break to finish with 20 points, 16 boards, and a BIG block in transition that helped swing the momentum in the Bobcats direction during their 25-18 third quarter run.
  • Theo Ratliff had a terrible game offensively (1-9 from the floor) but you really have to spread the blame around to his teammates (especially Boris Diaw) for feeding him shots late in the shot clock that he had no business taking.
  • Some good news may be on the horizon.  The two main areas where the Bobcats were deficient against the Hawks (offensive production at Center, bench scoring) will certainly be improved once Nazr Mohammed and Larry Hughes return from injury.  Hughes should be ready by early next week while Mohammed is still day to day.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Michael Jordan Speaks For First Time As Bobcats Owner

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video courtesy WCNC

The Michael Jordan media blitz has begun.  The first interview was posted this morning on bobcats.com, along with a “behind the scenes” gallery of pics.  Then this afternoon, Jordan held his first press conference.

Similar to the Bobcats performance last night against the Thunder, Jordan had a bit of a rough start with some awkward and often redundant opening comments (is it really a dream come true?).  But by the time he took questions from the assembled media, Jordan found his footing.

He affirmed that he will be more involved as controlling owner than he ever was as a minority owner, commenting to the effect of “I can’t afford not to be.”

Jordan even warned us about the inevitable nepotism that occurs when the patriarch owns a business, saying that he hoped we’d get to know his children and that they’d eventually take a role within the organization.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Bobcats advance scout Jeffrey Jordan!

In all seriousness, I liked what Jordan had to say.  These initial sentiments, along with the Bobcats having won 7 of their last 8 in the midst of securing their first playoff berth, have the Michael Jordan era off to a good start for the Bobcats.

Bonus

Stephen Jackson is apparently in studio with Kenny, Charles and EJ for Magic/Heat and Nuggets/Hornets on TNT NBA Thursday tonight.  Jack’s going mainstream!

And Jordan also filmed a one-on-one interview today with Stephanie Ready that will air on tomorrow night’s telecast of the Bobcats @ Hawks matchup.

UPDATE: Check that, Jack will apparently be on Inside the NBA, the postgame show on TNT late tonight after the Nuggets/Hornets matchup.

-Dr. E