Bobcats Down Raptors; Trade Deadline Approaches

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DJ (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Bobcats handily defeated the Toronto Raptors, 114-101, on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  DJ Augustin led the way with 23 points and 8 assists/o turnovers, while Gerald Wallace relentlessly drove at Toronto’s weak interior defenders en route to 14-15 FTs and 20 points.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The Bobcats took the lead late in the first quarter and never looked back.  They stretched the lead out to double digits in the second and nearly out to 20 briefly in the third.  A meaningless Raptors rally cut the Cats lead to 11 midway through the fourth before Gerald Wallace closed the door for good by getting to the line for 5-6 free throws on three consecutive possessions.

Boris Diaw had a strong game with 16 points (6-10 FG), 9 assists and 4 steals.  Gerald Henderson added 15 points (5-11 FG) and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.

The Raptors are pretty much a mess, and it starts with their best player.  7’0″ center Andrea Bargnani is about as soft as they come, and his nonexistent defensive ability and effort set the tone for the rest of the young team.

Notes

  • Stephen Jackson left the game in the third quarter after taking contact and landing awkwardly during a layup.  Jackson left the floor limping and holding his left hamstring.  He soon returned to the bench, but did not re-enter the game.  Jackson said after the game the injury was not a concern and that he could have played if called upon.
  • Nazr Mohammed did his best Kevin Love impression, grabbing 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes off the bench.
  • Boris capped his night of with a breakaway dunk that was rather out of character.  After a feed from DJ, who had stolen the ball in the backcourt, Boris cocked it back behind his head before stuffing it two-handed.  I would say that he was inspired by this past weekend’s slam dunk contest, but you and I know there’s no way Boris watched that.
  • Weird line for Jerryd Bayless.  He was about as relentless going to the rack as Gerald Wallace and had 11-12 FT, but was 0-4 from the field.   He also tallied 10 assists, but gave up 4 turnovers and committed 4 fouls.
  • The Pacers took care of the Wiz tonight, so maintain their one game lead on the Bobcats for the 8th playoff spot.
  • Bobcats don’t play again until Friday night when they host the Kings at the Cable Box, 7 PM ET start.  The Kings will be without Tyreke Evans, who is missing time with plantar fasciitis, and Carl Landry, who is about to get traded to the Hornets for Marcus Thornton.

Thoughts at the Trade Deadline

Bonus trade deadline thoughts!  Now that the Carmelo deal is done, some other smaller deals are starting to go down.  The deadline is at 3 PM ET on Thursday.  Several sources have indicated that the Bobcats have been active on the phones.

But Paul Silas has been quoted both Monday and Tuesday as saying that he doesn’t think the Bobcats will be making a trade; his quote from Tuesday made it sound as if the Bobcats had only received ludicrous proposals from other teams: “We’re not just going to give people away and that’s what most teams want you to do.”

That’s basically code for: “You know who we’ve got on the block.  We’re ready to deal, but you’re going to have to step your offer up.”

And while I agree that the Bobcats should only trade Gerald Wallace if they get a Godfather offer, and should be pretty picky about giving Boris Diaw up, I wouldn’t be as choosy about a Stephen Jackson trade.  I’d jump on a mix of an expiring contract and a draft pick in a heartbeat, but that’s probably not happening.

Whatever the case, despite Silas’s proclamation that “nothing’s happening”, expect to hear the Bobcats continue to come up in deadline buzz over the next day and half.

-Dr. E

POLL : What should the Bobcats do at the trade deadline?

  • Trade Gerald Wallace (23%, 12 Votes)
  • Trade Boris Diaw (17%, 9 Votes)
  • Trade Stephen Jackson (34%, 18 Votes)
  • Stand pat and make a playoff push (26%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Bobcats Continue Mastery Of Lakers

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Bob Leverone/AP Photo

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box; the Cats have now defeated the Lakers 8 out of the last 10 times the two teams have played.  Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 20 points and 11 rebounds; Gerald Henderson added 18 points (6-9 FG, 5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks off the bench.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The deck was stacked against the Lakers to start: they were finishing up a long road trip AND on the second night of a back-to-back; plus, Kobe was under the weather.  After a bit of a slow start, the Cats took advantage, building a six point lead to take into halftime.

The wheels really fell off for the Lakers late in the third.  With a laboring Kobe on the bench, the Cats went on a 14-3 run, capped by a 15-foot jumper and a short hook shot by Kwame Brown and a three pointer at the buzzer by Gerald Wallace, for a 78-60 lead after three.

The barrage continued with Kobe and the Lakers starters back on the court to start the fourth, this time headed by Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, who both appeared to be unguardable for the exhausted Lakers.  The Bobcats led by as much as 28 a couple of times before the benches emptied.

Notes

  • After oversleeping and arriving late to shootaround, Boris Diaw was supposedly going to be benched to start the game as discipline.  But Silas apparently changed his mind, as Boris started and played well with 16 points (3-6 3PT).
  • DJ Augustin was supposedly also out after being limited in shootaround with a sprained wrist.  But after pregame warmups he declared himself ready to go and notched 9 assists vs. 0 turnovers.  Still not a complete bounceback from his recent slump, though, as he shot 3-7 FG and 1-4 3PT for just 7 points.
  • This has to be said: even if you took Stephen Jackson’s proclivity for antagonizing the officials and drawing technical fouls out of the equation, Gerald Henderson would still be pushing him for playing time.  Henderson’s been that good recently.
  • With beat writer Rick Bonnell on furlough this week, the rest of the Observer’s sports crew filled in.  Check out good posts by Ron Green on what this win meant for the Bobcats and this post by Scott Fowler on Phil Jackson’s terse postgame comments/Kobe’s no-show.
  • The win moves the Bobcats to 24-31 and 1.5 games back from Indiana for the 8th playoff spot.
  • Quick turnaround as the Bobcats head to Chicago for a back-to-back against the Bulls Tuesday night, 8PM ET start.  The Bulls will be looking to avenge two losses the Cats from earlier this season.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

Bobcats’ Rally Attempt Ended by Heat, Themselves

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Let's hope we can remove him from the milk carton now. (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)

Recap | Box Score

If there’s one thing everyone should know about the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s that they are not a great shooting team. The roster is built mostly on cutters – players who drive to the paint to score.

And tonight, against one of the best teams in the league, the Bobcats tried to cap a rally by trying to become what they most certainly are not. Of course, it didn’t work as Charlotte’s offense couldn’t keep up with Miami’s and the Bobcats fell to the Heat, 109-97.

The game started off as well as a Bobcats fan could hope, with Boris Diaw facilitating early and getting Kwame Brown involved, leading to a 17-9 lead going into the first timeout. From there, the Heat got back into it with LeBron contributing by hitting all four of his first-half shots. Also helping out was Dwyane Wade, who was said to be unsure about even playing tonight (yeah, right). Wade was making the hard shots and getting to the cup without too much trouble.

Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace also played well in the first half. Jackson was hitting his shots, mostly mid-range jumpers, at a decent clip and even drew fouls to get to the line. At the half, he had 11 points on 3-6 shooting and 4-4 from the stripe. Gerald Wallace was great in the first half as well, hitting five of 11 shots, including a three and he added three free throws for 14 points in the first half. D.J. Augustin also was playing well as far as passing, although his shooting left much to desire.

But keeping the Bobcats from leading in the first half was their interior defense. LeBron and Wade both can drive into the paint with such ease that opponents must have good transition and interior defenses. While the Bobcats are decent on transition defense, their interior defense still isn’t anything to be afraid of, even with Kwame Brown’s resurgence. Anyway, when LeBron or Wade drove to the paint, the Bobcats interior defense would collapse to compensate, leaving Miami’s spot-up men alone at the arc. The driving ballhandler kicks out to the sharpshooter and Bobcats players rush to contest the shot but it’s too late. The result? In the first half, Mike Miller was 3-3 and Eddie House was 1-1 from deep. This also occurred with the Bobcats’ big men leaving Zydrunas Ilgauskas alone to guard the paint. Ilgauskas would knock down three out of four mid-range shots in the first half.

The score at the half was Miami – 59, Charlotte – 55.

Then came the Bobcats’ worst fear – the third quarter. Somehow they survived, mostly by playing better defense than the first two quarters, “holding” the Heat to 50% shooting while the Bobcats managed 44%. As such, the Bobcats had a very manageable six-point deficit heading into the final quarter.

In one of the more noggin-scratching moves of the night, Paul Silas started Sherron Collins at the point to begin the fourth quarter. If Sherron Collins’ defense was a publicly held corporation that sold stock, you either should have sold it when he stepped on the court. In the first two minutes of the 4th quarter, Eddie House (Sherron’s man) hit 3 three-pointers. And while Sherron did hit a three of his own, that’s just not enough. I understand that Livingston doesn’t have the shooting ability from deep that Collins has, but Livingston’s defense and length are assets that definitely would have helped in the fourth. Regardless, the Heat turned a 6-point lead into a 12-point lead.

But then the Bobcats began to climb back into it with Augustin back in. With eight minutes left, the Bobcats were right back in the game, only down by six.

But then the Bobcats tried to be who they weren’t, as I mentioned way above. Despite having most of their success from good ball movement and getting the rock into the paint, Stephen Jackson and D.J. Augustin started jacking long range jump shots that just weren’t falling. Augustin ended the night shooting 1-6 FG and 1-4 from three. Jackson went 1-5 from the field in the fourth, with three missed treys in the final period. I understand that the Bobcats had to resort to shooting the long ball to try to get back into the game, but that should only come with a big deficit with not a lot of time left. Down six points with about seven minutes left is not the time to abandon your strengths to try for the quick fix. While the Bobcats were shooting poorly, the Heat were not. Chris Bosh emerged from his poor first three quarters with 8 points in the final 12 minutes. Either way, the Bobcats killed themselves in the fourth. But, it was an entertaining game for most of the night and the Heat are an extremely good team, especially when all of their ‘Big Three’ are healthy (Wade had a triple double and LeBron was two rebounds and an assist away from a triple double).

Notable Plays

The Bobcats had some great plays in this game, despite the loss. In the second quarter the Bobcats went on a dunk parade with Gerald Henderson smashing a couple and Gerald Wallace getting in on the action. There was also a very nice play at the end of the first half where Augustin split a double-team beneath the basket to find a cutting Derrick Brown who got the bucket and drew the foul.

Stats leaders:

Bobcats

Wallace: 9-19 FG, 25 PTS, 10 REBS, 2 AST, 1 BLK

Jackson: 7-17 FG, 25 PTS, 3 REBS, 5 AST, 2 STL

Henderson: 6-10 FG, 14 PTS, 2 REBS, 1 AST, 3 BLK (I love that he’s developing into a great 6th man)

Heat

Wade: 8-20 FG, 22 PTS, 12 REBS, 10 AST

James: 7-13 FG, 19 PTS, 8 REBS, 9 AST

And a quick note: Yes, the officiating was iffy at best in the fourth quarter (in favor of the Heat, of course), but to blame the whole loss on the referees is absolutely absurd. The Bobcats got to the line more than the Heat did anyway. The real blame for this loss resides on the Heat being a superiorly talented team and the Bobcats straying from their best offensive strategy.

- 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 Prevail Over Pistons, Finish Trip 4-2

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Photo by J. Dennis/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by J. Dennis/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bobcats used a 20-1 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to defeat the Pistons 97-87 in Detroit on Wednesday night.  Stephen Jackson poured in a season-high 39 points (14-26 FG, 3-7 3PT, 8-10 FT) to lead the Cats as they finished their 6-game road trip at 4-2.  The Cats are now 21-27 and hanging on to the 8th playoff spot heading into a brutal three game home-stand against Miami, Dallas and Boston.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The last game of a long road trip is always dangerous; it’s human nature for the mind to start wandering towards putting the keys in your own door and sleeping in your own bed whilst being blown out.  But with Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell out with injuries, Rip Hamilton exiled to the end of the bench, and their fans stuck at home under a foot of snow, the Pistons were hardly in position to take advantage of a possible letdown by the Bobcats anyways.

Stephen Jackson got the Bobcats off to a nice start despite DJ Augustin’s early foul trouble.  Sherron Collins picked up seven first quarter minutes and played well, going 2-2 from the field and presiding over a 19-11 Bobcats run.  The Cats maintained a small lead through the second quarter as Jack poured in the buckets and Kwame Brown hit the boards.

The Pistons came out strong after halftime and ran out to an 8 point lead before the Bobcats calmed things down.  Towards the end of the third quarter, down 65-64, the Bobcats embarked on their epic run.  Amidst a barrage of jumpers from Steven Jackson and dunks/layups from Kwame Brown, Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, the Pistons couldn’t get anything going.

Up 84-66 with 8 minutes left after Jackson’s three free throws capped the run, the Bobcats took their foot off the gas a bit.  The Pistons went on a small run of their own to cut the lead to 7 with three minutes left, but Jack put an end to that with a strong drive into a layup.  From there, a few DJ Augustin free throws iced the game.

Notes

  • Quick and easy numbers: The Bobcats shot 50.7% to the Pistons 43.6%, outrebounded the Pistons 46-30, and went 20-25 at the line to the Pistons 12-17.
  • Quintessential Boris Diaw line: 36 minutes, 0 points on 0-3 FG, 4 rebounds, 9 assists/2 turnovers, and a team high plus-minus of +15.  Just embrace it.
  • Quiet game for DJ after his early foul trouble trying to match up against the stronger Ben Gordon.  DJ scored 5 points in the final 46 seconds to get to double digits at 10 — but overall didn’t play well.  Nice to see that the Bobcats could get a win despite that.
  • Another double-double for Kwame Brown: 14 points/10 rebounds.
  • So while the quality of the opponents (Sacramento by 5, Phoenix by 7, Golden State by 8 in OT, Detroit by 10) leaves something to be desired, a 4-2 road trip is a pretty impressive feat for this team.  As noted above, the Bobcats now face a three game home-stand against a murderers row of opponents: Miami on Friday, Dallas on Saturday, and Boston on Monday, all 7 PM ET starts.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin, and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

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 Find A Way To Lose To Philly

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Bobcats Lose A Close One In Philadelphia

The Charlotte Bobcats traveled to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers in a mid-day MLK Day game. The match paired two of the most unimpressive teams of the Eastern Conference, both putting  on out-of-rhythm performances for long stretches. Each team tried their hardest to lose this game, but the Bobcats were finally able to hand it over to the home team in overtime. The suspension of Tyrus Thomas for “throwing ‘bows” during Charlotte’s last game may have been one factor to aid Charlotte to this loss to Philly 96 – 92.

AP Recap | Box Score

The Start

The Bobcats had a bit of trouble getting things up and running early in the game. The 76ers worked to entertain their crowd with steady offense at the onset, making all of their shot attempts for the first 4 minutes. The Cats hung around, but were forced into taking a lot of outside shots that would not drop for any of the starters. Boris Diaw showed solid defense and pretty efficient shot selection during his early minutes. Interestingly, Kwame Brown was the best offensive option that Charlotte had in action. The team’s two captains, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson just didn’t seem to work out against Philly’s defensive scheme. Wallace was nearly invisible until Jackson went to the bench at the end of the first quarter. At that point, Crash took it straight to the basket on consecutive drives for easy points.

Neither team could hit a shot in the second quarter. Stephen Jackson replaced Wallace and stunk it up for the rest of the half. Pennsylvania-native, Gerald Henderson showed little effectiveness and the rest of the Bobcats couldn’t find the hoop despite their efforts (Shaun Livingston did show some hustle, but without buckets). It seemed that the Bobcats were absolutely stymied on offense without Boris Diaw on the floor. We’ll need a real “X’s and O’s” type to ascertain what the 76ers were doing against the Cats. My guess is that the team relies on Jack to bail them out of such ruts, and he just didn’t have anything going for him during most of the game. Still, the teams went back-and-forth and Philly held a 1pt lead going to end the half. It could have been much worse considering that the Bobcats had shot 0-10 from behind the arc.

The Second Half

The Bobcats came out on a tear to start the third (which is not quite how they usually roll). Boris Diaw stayed hot with two 3-pointers to spark Charlottes 13-2 run. Every Bobcat on the floor contributed during the run, except Stephen Jackson who went scoreless for the quarter. Of course, the Cats went back to playing their style of 3rd Quarter basketball and let the 76ers back into the game. This was possible due a streak of 10 straight misses and nearly 10 minutes without a field goal. It was if Larry Brown was haunting the team from his old office in Philadelphia. Again, the team struggled with Boris getting rest on the bench. While Charlotte needed someone to step up on offense, they only got Captain Jack to miss a load of shots and throwaway two turnovers to close the period.

The 76ers started the 4th Quarter by owning the paint on offense. The Bobcats had no ability to stop Louis Williams as he tore through their defense for 21 second half points. DJ Augustin just couldn’t handle the larger Williams, and couldn’t knock down shots to make up for it. Augustin and Jackson appeared just about useless for much of the 4th. The game was close to being out of reach with Philadelphia holding a 9 point edge with less than 5 minutes left. But suddenly, Kwame Brown came to the rescue. Well, it was actually Elton Brand’s arm to Kwame’s face on a close lay-up that did it. Brown hit the shot attempt and the free-throw. Brand was called for a flagrant and the Cats used the possession to set up Boris for a straight-ahead 3-pointer. The momentum swung and Charlotte held control of the game until the final seconds.  Matt Carroll (another Pennsylvania-native) knocked down 2 free-throws to give the Bobcats a 3 point lead with less than 10 seconds, and it seemed like the road win was sealed. Unfortunately, Louis Williams wasn’t done and hit a game-tying 3-pointer from the corner with 4.7 seconds left. Charlotte used their final timeout to setup the old pass-it-around-to-Stephen-Jackson-for-a-long-range-miss play and executed it with precision. So, the folks in the arena caught a little bonus basketball and had to put off dinner for another half-hour.

Overtime

Early in the extra period, the Bobcats worked on rookie Evan Turner with Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson. Once that well was dry, the teams seemed to counter each other with blows until the final minute. In the meantime, Boris Diaw notched his first triple-double as a Bobcat and Kwame Brown pulled down his 16th rebound of the game. Still, the great stats just couldn’t add up to a win. With just under 40 seconds left, and the game tied, Andre Igoudala hit a pull up jumper over Kwame to give the Sixers a two point lead that wouldn’t fade as the home team finally got the win over the visiting Bobcats 96-92. In the case that these two teams are tied for the final Playoff slot, Philadelphia will hold the tie-breaker advantage with this win over the Bobcats. From what I recall, the Bobcats have also lost the tie-breaker to the Bucks.

Loose Notes

To start the televised game broadcast, Dell Curry let it slip that he had just downed a 5-Hour Energy and 2 cups of coffee. In no way did I ever think DC had such a need for uppers. Also, in no way did any of those chemicals speed up his Southern draw.

Thaddeus Young had a horrible game trying to finish around the rim. He missed two dunks, had one blocked, and missed two lay-ups. He was pretty bad at the free-throw line as well.

Kwame Brown had another really good game (15 pts, 16 reb, but a crucial turnover). It’s tough to get overly-excited when the team isn’t winning, but this guy might be a pretty good value. The television crew mentioned an instance during a recent practice when Asst. Coach Charles Oakley really got into Kwame’s face. It’s nice to see him react with a performance like this. At the end of the season, we’ll need to evaluate which player was a better addition between Brown or Livingston.

Nazr Mohammed seems to be back to form… and that form is of a backup Center for a mediocre NBA club.

During the broadcast, I spotted a Mini-Shelden Williams sitting on the front-row near the Bobcats bench. If you watched the game on Fox SportSouth, you know who I’m talkin’ about.

Boris Diaw’s triple-double (25 pts, 11 reb, 11 ast, 1 turnover, 2 blocks) would have been a lot more fun to jot down had the Cats pulled out the win. Still, it’s nice to see the Frenchman display his full range of skills on the court. That stat line is crazy!

The Bobcats have a rematch with the 76ers in Charlotte on Thursday. Let’s hope for revenge!

Bonus Link : Recap from a Sixers Fan Blog, Liberty Ballers

-Mike