Clippers Decimate Road-Weary Bobcats

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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.

Balanced Clipper Attack Sends Bobcats Under .500

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Charlotte Bobcats @ LA Clippers 2/23/10

Charlotte can’t overcome Stephen Jackson’s worst game as a Bobcat as they lose 98-94 to the Clips on the road, falling a game below .500 (27-28) and deadlocked with Milwaukee for 8th place in the Conference.  The ‘Cats trail early, turn the ball over, play defense for around two thirds of the game and can’t withstand a late charge by the home team.  Any of this sound familiar?

AP recap here | Box score here

He Was Due for One

The story of the game for the Bobcats has to be Stephen Jackson’s “Jamison“-like stinkbomb.  JAX went 1-16 from the field and ended up fouling out late in the fourth with 7pts, 5asts, 5TOs, and 6 boards.  He never got it going and the ‘Cats threw away a winnable road game thanks to the backcourt’s poor shooting.  JAX and backup point guard D.J. Augustin combined to go 2-24 from the field.  Ouch.
Jackson was lucky to not be T’d up several times as he repeatedly directed his frustration onto the officials.  Before tonight’s game, JAX had scored in double figure in ALL of his 45 games with the Bobcats.

The fact that Jackson’s stinker came a day after his “tired from fatigue” comments doesn’t bode well for a team that has no real backup at the shooting guard position.  Hopefully the coaches will stop rubber cementing Gerald Henderson to the bench from this point on.
One positive note from this development: It did seem as if Jackson’s frustration came from his inability to help his teammates when they needed him, rather than some ego-fueled scorer’s rage.  You like to see that in a player.

How ‘Bout Them Clippers!

For people still wondering why Mike Dunleavy is still employed in any capacity, just take a look at the talented roster he’s assembled in the past couple of years:

  • Baron Davis: B-Diddy can still bring it when he’s motivated and has at least another 3-4 solid years in him.
  • Chris Kaman: Has mastered the 15-foot pick & pop, is a solid rebounder and has apparently vowed to add a 3-point shot to his arsenal in the next two years.
    Too bad that Hollywood has moved on to 3D for all of its monsters, freaks & aliens.  Kaman could have picked up a lot of side-work in the offseason as sort of a poor man’s Peter Mayhew.
  • Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin: Three solid prospects picked in the last few drafts, two of which have All-Star potential.
  • Craig Smith, Travis Outlaw: Talented guys in their mid-20s who could definitely be in the rotation for a contending club.
  • Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden: Quality “Rent-a-Veteran” players who make enough plays every night to put your team in a position to win.

Add in a MAXplayer like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh (they have the cap space to do it) and a real coach and this team could be VERY GOOD next year.

The Clips went nine deep tonight and (unlike the Bobcats, who essentially got production from five guys with Nazr out with a back and D.J./JAX ineffective), ALL NINE PLAYERS contributed.  It was death by a thousand cuts with Butler dropping corner threes at will, Eric Gordon scoring the ball from everywhere on the court and Baron balling in spurts like it was the year 2000.  Six players dropped double figures for LA while new backup PG Steve Blake notched 7 assists.  Good times to be a Clips fans.

Who Steps Up?

The Bobcats rallied hard in the third quarter when they erased the Clips’ 13-point lead at the 6:36 mark and went up 64-62.  They couldn’t hold on as no one (aside from Boris Diaw) could step up their game in Jax’s absence.  Gerald Wallace had one of his super-stats games (32pts, 12rbs, 4steals, 5asts) but he’s not the team’s Go-To guy in the 4th.  That’s JAX’s job and tonight he just wasn’t delivering.  Raymond tried but couldn’t do it.  Boris was aggressive and could have nailed a three with 2:50 to go that would have put the Cats up by six but it rimmed out.
The Bobcats will need to find a strategy that will allow them to win games even if their clutch scorer is cold.  Hope they figure it out soon.

Bullets:

  • Tyrus Thomas (10pts, 4rbs, 3blks) showcased both a fifteen AND a twenty footer.  He also had a nice post scoop & score on Jordan in the second half from the block.  Didn’t realize he had these moves already.  Hopefully LB will stick around at least for another season to help tutor T2 to the next level.
  • Diaw looked great tonight and nearly logged the franchise’s first triple double with 20pts, 9rbs, 9asts.  He looked aggressive and alert.  Clippers broadcast team was gushing over him all night.
  • As much as I loved Crash’s line tonight, I HATED the number in the minutes column: 48.  How is this team going to make the Playoffs when the top two guys are already running on fumes?  Coach Brown needs to suck it up and let Gerald Henderson & Derrick Brown play through some mistakes.  Besides, they can’t be any worse than Augustin, right?
  • Who would you rather have: DeAndre Jordan ($736,000) or Tyson Chandler ($12 ka-gillion)?
  • Bobcats should be sold by the end of the month.  Word has it that MJ has until the 28th to match the Postolos Group offer.  We’ll have an in-depth article on this later on in the week.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Zach Randolph for Radmanovic and Mohammed?

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Randolph for Radmanovic and Mohammed?

So you’re Rod Higgins and Larry Brown.  You just found out that the Grizzlies tried to take Zach Randolph off of the Clippers’ hands by offering them Darko’s expiring deal and Greg Buckner – only to have Clips owner Donald Sterling turn them down.  You look over at each other and think:

“Sterling must feel like an idiot right now.  He could have cleared up cap space AND opened up the four for Blake Griffin all in one deal and he turned it down.  He’s probably desperate now.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Radman and Nazr really aren’t in our long term plans and they don’t really fit the Larry Brown profile…hmm.  But Z-Bo is a nut-job and he plays less defense than Kurt Warner.  Dude can really score though…hmmm….”

Let us lend virtual Rod and virtual Larry a hand at making this decision.  Y’know, Benjamin Franklin was one of our wisest men and before he would make any major decision, he would take out a sheet of paper and…well, you know the rest.

So let’s break this down Benjamin Franklin style!

Salary:

Radman and Nazr make a combined total of $12.9 mil in ’09-’10.  Randolph makes $16 mil.  The Bobcats would have to swallow the additional $3 million out of their remaining cap space.
In ’10-’11 Radman and Nazr are owed a total of $13.77 mil while Randolph is owed $17.3, a difference of $3.6 mil.  All three contracts expire at the end of the ’10-’11 season.

UPDATE: Bonnell just reported on the ‘Cats salary situation heading into free agency.  To make the the Randolph trade work, the ‘Cats would have to use their trade exception from the JRICH trade and bundle in Ajinca to make this work.

DECISION: Is Randolph worth an extra $3+ million per season?  Is one big contract easier to trade than two smaller ones?

ANALYSIS: Randolph will play over thirty minutes a night and score 18-20 points while doing it.  Vlad will be lucky to see eighteen a night and Nazr will serve his usual role as tackling dummy.  If the experiment doesn’t work, the ‘Cats have a major expiring salary to deal next season.
MAKE THE TRADE.

Zach Randolph starts...

PERSONNEL:

Here’s where it gets tricky.  The Bobcats already have a starting PF and he’s damn good.  After last December’s trade with Phoenix, Boris Diaw partied like it was 2005.  The question is whether or not Boris could make the move from effective starter to equally effective 6th man playing the same amount of minutes subbing at both forward spots.  Diaw didn’t respond well to it when Amare returned to the lineup in Phoenix so it is a major risk with this move.

The Randolph/Diaw combo would make for an incredible composite:
Diaw, a point-forward who is an underrated defender and selfless to a fault and Randolph, a black-hole low-post scoring machine who prefers to play hard only when his team has the ball.

DECISION: Is Randolph’s low-post scoring enough to offset his notorious lack of effort on defense?  Would Boris remain as effective as the team’s 6th man?

ANALYSIS: Productivity is a non-issue here.  Randolph gives the team a serious low-post scoring threat for the first time in franchise history.  Playing alongside Emeka would cut Zach a little more slack on D as well.  The issue is chemistry.  Could Boris make a smooth transition to the 6th man role?
MAYBE MAKE THE TRADE

...and Boris is the Sixth Man

INTANGIBLES:

Could Larry Brown really tolerate a guy who hates playing defense as much as he likes “simulated sex shows?”  Well, LB did put up with Iverson for a while.  The bigger question is whether Charlotte could put up with Randolph.  The city spent the past four years taking out their collective NBAnger on Sean May and he was a Boy Scout compared to #50.
I can only imagine how many Tom Sorenson columns we’d see comparing Zach to Derrick Coleman (and the Eldridge Recasner incident).

DECISION: Is Charlotte Ready for Zach Randolph?

ANALYSIS: No.
DON’T MAKE THE TRADE

–ASChin

POLL : Trade Mohammed & Radmanovich for Zach Randolph?

  • Make the Deal - Get Randolph (37%, 18 Votes)
  • No Deal – Zach doesn't fit the team (53%, 26 Votes)
  • No Deal - Charlotte won't welcome Zach (10%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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2009 NBA Draft Lottery: What Would You Do?

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Black Griffin is either on steroids or was weaned on Muscle Milk
Blake Griffin is either on steroids or was weaned on Muscle Milk

BASELINE READERS: Tell us what you’d do if the Bobcats won next Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery.

Would you automatically select Blake Griffin (who is not, I am told, a gene-spliced clone child of Rihanna and John Cena) or would you explore trading down for other players in the draft like James Harden or Ricky Rubio?  Or trade the pick altogether for an established star in the League?

Keep in mind that the odds are overwhelmingly against the Charlotte Bobcats – they don’t even have a 1% chance of winning.  More than likely the ‘Cats will be selecting 12th thanks to their relatively strong season.  Still, this is the mysterious draft lottery and stranger things have happened.  Longtime Charlotte NBA fans might remember the ’98-99 Hornets finishing 26-24 in a strike shortened season and then landing the #3 overall pick in order to select Baron Davis.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Raptors 11/26/08

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1. Bobcats lose a tough one on the road tonight, 96-83 to the Raps.  AP story here, box score here.

2. Chris Bosh killed us again.  After going for 30 points in a win over the Cats earlier in the season, Bosh bested that with 39 tonight.  He started the game on fire, and kept his foot on the gas pedal just enough to fend off the inevitable push by the Bobcats in the fourth quarter.

3. Watching the Bobcats struggle in the two games against Chris Bosh and Toronto this season is required viewing for anyone who wants to understand the long-term dilemma the team is in regarding the personell we’re committed to (particularly Okafor) in the context of Larry Brown’s system.  We committed $72 million over 6 years to Okafor this summer – that’s a Committment with a capital C.  He’s unmoveable for the next 4-5 years, so we’re absolutely forced to find a way to make it work with him.

One problem is that, over his four-plus years in the league, he has never improved/developed on the offensive end.  Now, this was a known issue when Mek came out of college; his biggest knock was that he didn’t seem to have a lot of potential to improve.  His main shortcomings (robotic/mechanical movements and a lack of touch) are not ones that are particularly amenable to more training and practice.  That said, would it kill him to develop one or two go-to post moves, a reliable 10-12 foot spot up jumper, or even just improve his free throw shooting?  His offensive game is so weak and limited that the opponent never really has to worry about who they match up with him.

But the bigger problem is actually that he is a tweener on the defensive end.  Not a small forward/power forward tweener (which is the more common use of the term), but a power forward/center tweener.  At 6’10” (and I wonder if he’s closer to 6’9″) he struggles to defend against true, skilled centers like Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut and Zyndrunas Ilgauskas.  So many have suggested that the Bobcats should acquire a “true” center with a bit more height and low post presence, which would enable Okafor to slide down to the four.  Accordingly, trade rumors have connected the Bobcats to Eddy Curry and Chris Kaman.

The problem is, if Okafor started and played more minutes at the four, here’s who he’d be guarding in the Eastern Conference: vs. Orlando, either Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu; vs. Boston, Kevin Garnett; vs. Atlanta, Josh Smith; vs. Philadelphia, Elton Brand; vs. Detroit, Rasheed Wallace; vs. New Jersey, Yi Jianlian; and vs. Toronto, Mr. Chris Bosh.  And that’s just the Eastern Conference off the top of my head.  Mismatches, night after night.  Guys who would draw Okafor out to 18-20 feet and shoot jumpers on him, drive by him, and prevent him from helping and rebounding around the basket (which are his biggest strenths).

Early in the game, we got a glimpse of what Okafor on Bosh looks like, as Alexis Ajinca started again and matched up with Bargnani.  Bosh started off red-hot, hitting his first eight shots in a row to set the tempo for the night.

So doesn’t it seem like the way to go would be involve playing him at the center spot, and then installing an up-tempo system around him?  It would take advantage of the skills of Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson (two more guys we’re pretty Committed to), allow Okafor to concentrate on defense and rebounding while minimizing the impact of his poor low-post offensive skills, and likely give us an edge over some of the teams that play with a bigger, more deliberate lineup.  But no.  We’re also committed to Larry Brown and his system, which has us playing at the slowest pace in the league and needing a low-post threat that we don’t have.

4. Sorry for that longish breakdown – let’s get back to the game.  The other guy who beat us tonight was Joey Graham off the bench for the Raps.  17 points (off just 8 FGA), and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes.

5. For the Bobcats, Gerald Wallace did Gerald Wallace things tonight, ending with 23 points (8-20 FG, 7-11 FT) and 8 rebounds.  Most of that damage came in the first half, though, as Toronto was able to keep Wallace in check down the stretch.

6. Anyone delusionally hoping for a repeat of Monday night’s performance from Augustin and Felton was surely disappointed.  Felton shot 2-10, Augustin 4-7.  Neither really ever got it going tonight.

7. Another abysmal night for both Adam Morrison and Matt Carroll.  They combined for 2-12 FG (0-6 3PT).  Morrison is so much better when he can create a bit for himself with stepbacks and runners.  Most nights he’s relegated to shooting spot-up 3s late in the shot clock.  Carroll continues to be almost completely useless, and is making the Bobcats look like boneheads for signing him to that contract.

8. By the way, I can’t help but wonder if I’m watching one potential solution to the Bobcats woes right now in the preseason NIT.  Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin seems like a prototypical, potential star NBA power forward, in the mold of a Carlos Boozer.  He’s quick and athletic enough to guard mobile, perimeter-based NBA 4s, and strong enough to guard the others.  His offensive game is likewise well-rounded.  If the Bobcats continue on the pace they’re on, they’ll obviously have a chance at getting a high enough lottery pick to nab him (I can dream, right?).

9. Next game: Friday night at the Pacers.  Happy Thanksgiving!

-E