Bobcats Routed By Celtics

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"Microcosm" by Bob Leverone/AP

The Bobcats reached a new low in their 93-62 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics Saturday night at the Cable Box.  Quite literally the 63 points represents the Cats lowest output this season, and overall it’s hard to imagine things getting much worse than this.

AP Recap |  Box Score

You knew it was going to be a rough night offensively for the Cats, going up against Boston’s D.  Early on, though, it appeared as if the Celtics might have an equally rough night.  Both teams struggled to get and make shots as the Celtics limped to a 20-16 lead after the first quarter.

However, the Celtics were eventually able to cobble together some buckets from Kevin Garnett and their bench into a respectable evening.  But the Bobcats regressed further and further; inasmuch as its possible to regress from a 16 point opening quarter.  Thus, the Celtics ‘respectable evening’ turned into a complete demolition of the Bobcats.

For the game, the Cats shot 33.8% (including 1-11 3PT), were outrebounded 48-38, gave up 21 turnovers, and had 10 of their shots blocked.  They continued to struggle from the free throw line to boot, hitting only 13-23.

It’s one thing to shoot poorly and commit more turnovers than usual against one of the best defenses in the league; but the other stuff (being badly outrebounded, having shots blocked and missing free throws) is indicative of the deeper issues that are engulfing this team.

Rick Bonnell wondered if the Friday night loss to the Pacers was the “beginning of the end” for Larry Brown in Charlotte.  After tonight, you have to wonder if we’re closer to the end, period.

The body language is bad team-wide.  No one has any confidence in their offensive game.  The effort on the defensive end is not there.  The two leaders, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, are not leading.  Essentially, the Bobcats appear to have checked out on Larry Brown and each other.

Meanwhile, the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors have picked up again, and again the Bobcats are rumored to be on the periphery of the discussions.  ESPN’s Chris Broussard’s source describes Michael Jordan’s attempt to get Carmelo as an effort “to save the Bobcats’ season.”

In a similar vein, it’s been reported that in the wake of this blowout, Michael Jordan addressed the team in the locker room after the game.

The shakeup is coming soon, folks.

Observations

  • The Bobcats MVP for the night has to be Tyrus Thomas, who sat out the game with a pulled quad muscle, but looked surprisingly dapper in a two-tone grey suit with tie.  I say surprisingly because I would have guessed that Tyrus would be more inclined to go with the Sean May benchwear look (baggy jeans, baggy untucked shirt, oversized jacket).  But no, Tyrus went all GQ.
  • On a serious note, Nazr Mohammed probably had the best game of any Bobcat (14 points on 7-11 shooting, 5 rebounds).  The Celtics were down to their fourth string center, rookie Semih Erden, and Nazr took him to school a bit in the first half.  However, in a curious move, Larry Brown sat Nazr in favor of Kwame Brown for much the second half because of Nazr’s three fouls.  So Nazr, the most effective Bobcat tonight, ended the game with only 17 minutes.  What are you saving him for?
  • It pains me to have to write this, but Gerald Wallace looks awful.  2-15 FG tonight — all bricks, charges and getting his shots blocked.  If Gerald was more diabolical, I’d wonder if he was trying to force a trade or get his coach fired.  He’s not that way (at least I don’t think so) so I have to think simply that he’s particularly affected by the funk that the whole team is in.
  • DJ was brutal tonight: 0-8 FG with 4 turnovers.
  • Next game is Tuesday; the Raptors will be in town for a 7PM start.

-Dr. E

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


Bobcats Squeak By Formerly Streaking Nuggets

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Gerald Wallace's textbook jumper (via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Charlotte Bobcats cooled off the streaking Denver Nuggets 100-98 on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  The Nuggets came in winners of seven in a row and trying to get head coach George Carl his 1000th NBA win, but ran into a Bobcats team desperate to right the ship after suffering an ugly loss over the weekend.

And so the desperate home team did just enough to win.  There were some nice signs, which I’ll note below.  But as nice as it is to notch a victory over a good opponent and temporarily quiet the negative buzz that had been growing around the team, there are still glaring problems.

The Bobcats have been very shaky late in games this year.  Tonight they led by 8 with 90 seconds left, but let the Nuggets right back in it with sloppy play that continued right down to the buzzer, allowing Chauncey Billups a chance at a tying jumper at the buzzer.  The way it was going, I half-expected Chauncey to stop at the three-point line and drain a game-winner.

Additionally, turnovers continue to haunt the Bobcats — they had 18 of them, leading to 28 Denver points.  The defense, while adequate tonight, is still several notches below the level it was at last year.  Nazr Mohammed is bringing very little to the table.  Tyrus Thomas still hasn’t quite taken that step that we were all hoping he would this year.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • For one half, it was like we had the old Gerald Wallace back.  Crash had 17 at halftime, including two alley-opp jams.  But in the second half Gerald was conspicuously quiet, adding only another three points.  He also missed six free throws.
  • Despite a sore calf, Stephen Jackson led the way with a very solid 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.  Jack was making love to his jumper tonight with 11 3-point attempts — and only tw0 free throw attempts — but he hit five of those 3-pointers, so we’ll let it slide.
  • Wallace, Jackson, and Boris Diaw shared the task of defending Melo tonight and acquitted themselves pretty well.  Melo was held to 22 points on 21 shots and had 4 turnovers — a pretty pedestrian line for him.  Then again you have to wonder if that kind of line will become more typical for Melo as he plays out the string this year with a team he has no intention of being with next year.
  • Tyrus Thomas was very effective in limited minutes tonight: 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-4 FT) with 4 rebounds in just 15 minutes.  Ty would have almost certainly been out there for several more minutes to close out the game, but left with “left quad tightness” and didn’t return.
  • I understand that Larry Brown is always searching for the next George Lynch, but I’ll be glad when the Dom McGuire Project is over.  Since McGuire has been available over the past few weeks, he’s been averaging about 15 minutes a game.  Problem is, he hasn’t produced much.  Bigger problem is, those 15 minutes are Derrick Brown’s minutes.  I have no problem with McGuire getting some burn now — LB needs to get comfortable with what he can and can’t do out there — but Derrick Brown is younger and has a higher ceiling.  He’s the one that needs the burn.
  • Had to chuckle when I saw this blog post from Bonnell about Larry Brown gushing that Monday’s practice was the best in months.  The first commenter did the honors: “Practice?  We talkin bout practice!?”  Never gets old.

-Dr. E

Can DJ Cut It?

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All Summer, Charlotte’s GM Worked Hard To Avoid This Situation. But, It’s Now On DJ Augustin To Lead The Bobcats

As the Bobcats sputtered through their first Playoff ride last spring, Charlotte fans seemed finished with former starting point guard, Raymond Felton. Despite the poor play of his understudy, DJ Augustin, the clamor over Felton’s contract expectations and Playoff stumble signaled the end of the love for the ex-Tarheel. The Bobcats made no effort to resign Felton, despite the lack of a viable replacement at the point guard spot.

Yea, it was the free-wheelin’ free agency season of 2010, so we all believed that the trade-happy Bobcats were surely gonna find someone to play the point better than any Bobcat before him.

Over the summer, Toronto had a deal worked out with Charlotte and Phoenix that would have delivered Jose Calderon as the new starting point guard for the Bobcats. Just before that trade agreement was finalized, the basketball gods interceded to notify Michael Jordan that he was about to make another boneheaded management decision. Quickly, that situation was diffused and Toronto was stuck with their oft-injured Spaniard. Still, we all knew that something was going to happen over the summer. Something had to happen, right?

The Erick Dampier trade seemed promising, until no other team showed the slightest interest in Dampier’s supposedly valuable $13 million non-guaranteed contract. It really seemed like the Bobcats were lining up their chess pieces for a masterful play, but then they just left the room, hopped on the sofa and turned on the Playstation.

Shooting Bricks In Free Agency

Last week’s “news” report about Devin Harris finding his way to Charlotte in the Melo-to-the-Nets swap was just enough to make me believe that Charlotte’s front office had set themselves up perfectly to take advantage of the messy circumstances that are inevitable in the NBA. Man, I was crazy psyched for that trade to go through. In my excitement, I high-fived fellow baseliner Deesdale, and even left a semi-drunken voice mail to Bobcats Baseline’s foreign correspondent, A.S. Chin. (He’s 12 hours ahead, so maybe he’d know when the deal was finalized – right?)

Then, we found out that the super-complicated, 4 team trade was crumbling and it was later reported that Devin Harris hated the idea of playing in Charlotte. So, it was back to the drawing board for GM Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan as training camp was set to begin. Last week, Larry Brown gave us the old “Larry Brown” routine and griped about the state of the roster during his first meeting with the media. The next day, he praised some guys for their hard work and conditioning, and so it goes…

Now, As It Stands – 6′ 0″

Today, we’re still wondering what the Bobcats are going to do to get an NBA starter-quality point guard? It looks like DJ Augustin is next up on the depth chart, but it’s clear that the team has scrambled all summer to avoid this situation. Can Larry Brown turn Augustin into a capable starter over the next few weeks? It was rumored that Larry Brown made the call to draft Augustin over Brook Lopez. How long can Larry try to justify that opinion before he sends DJ off, like so many past Bobcats?

Another way to consider this would be to ask – Can DJ Augustin turn himself into a true, starter-quality point guard in the next few weeks? The Bobcats have given the media some nice bits about DJ’s “confidence” and new assertiveness as a leader. Now that he holds the reins, it would be great to see DJ make huge strides as a player. Still, I have to wonder if he’s got what it takes to meet Larry Brown’s demands and the fans’ expectations.

- Mike


POLL : Can DJ Cut It?

  • DJ Can Be A Star
    (19%, 36 Votes)
  • DJ Can Be A Starter
    (58%, 112 Votes)
  • DJ Will Be Traded
    (18%, 34 Votes)
  • DJ Will Be Benched
    (5%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 193

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What To Do with Dampier? – Part 2

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PLUS: Carmelo Perception vs. Gerald Wallace Reality

canthony_billups

MEgo-Mania© has again swept the Association with the latest contestent being none other than Johnny Sucker Punch himself, Carmelo Anthony.  Within hours of Ric Bucher’s ‘Melo scoop, the national rumor mill threw little old Charlotte a bone by insisting that the Bobcats were, in fact, a legitimate dark horse to land Carmelo due to his Brand Jordan ties and the Nuggs cap-strapped lust of Erik Dampier’s insta-expiring contract.  Immediately the internet was flooded with columnists, blogs and commenters weighing in: “What could the Bobcats possibly send Denver to pry ‘Melo away!!!???  Gerald Wallace and Damp’s expiring?  Throw in some draft picks???  Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson too!  Maybe some cash?  And take back Kenyon Martin’s dead weight contract, yeah, that’d would at least make ‘em think about it!!!”

With Steve Austin making a comeback splash this summer in The Expendables, let me channel the spirit of Stone Cold in my response to this nonsense:

“Carmelo Anthony, what?  That mealy-mouth sonofabitch, what?  Couldn’t play lock-down defense on a Roomba, what?  Sucker-punchin’ yellow belly beady-eyed overrated idiot, what?”
(CUT TO: Stone Cold  Stunner on ‘Melo, Austin mocks an incapicitated Carmelo with a two fingered salute while wearing a black t-shirt and jean shorts.  WHAT?)

Someone please refresh my memory.  What exactly has Carmelo Anthony accomplished during his first seven seasons in the Association?  At least Lebron has been to an NBA finals.  Melo can’t even say that.  He’s a high-octane scoring dynamo, a one dimensional player who has a catchy name and often plays on national television.  Basically, he’s the new Vince Carter.  End of story.

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie summed it up best in his Small Forward Rankings last month.  Ranking Gerald Wallace 4th and Carmelo 3rd, he writes:

I would have no problem (with) flipping (Wallace) with Carmelo Anthony on more than a few nights. Anthony’s offense is as good as Wallace’s D, but Wallace’s offense is so, so much better than Carmelo’s defense.

QUICK LOOK AT GERALD WALLACE (IN COMPARISON TO CARMELO):

  1. Only two years older.
  2. Costs half as much ($10 million average base versus ‘Melo’s upcoming MAX extension).
  3. Doesn’t dominate the ball.  Can score without having plays called for him.
  4. Plays outstanding man and team defense.  Best rebounding small forward in the league.
  5. Team leader who has the respect of the lockerroom.

So why would the Bobcats consider anything other than a straight swap of Wallace for Anthony?  Simple, Carmelo’s perceived value is higher.  Higher in the mind of the casual fan and higher in the mind of televsion executives who decide which teams get national broadcasts.  Mark Mainstream hears the name “Carmelo Anthony” and associates it with “talented.”  Again, ‘Melo is the new Vince Carter.  The Bobcats are still trying to lure in fans and establish an identity while trying to prevent another season of full-scale financial catastophe.  ‘Melo’s perceived value and name recognition could help.  I just hope the team doesn’t severely over-pay in order to get him.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

DAMPIER SOLUTION PART TWO: TRADE HIM

If anything worthwhile has come out of these ME-lo rumors, it’s the fact that the billionaire Kroenke family has grown tired of dropping $20+ million in luxury tax payments to the league every year.  As previously mentioned, the Nuggets aren’t exactly lining the halls with Larry O’Brian trophies so cutting team salary this year (with the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Heat clearly ahead of them) makes a lot of sense.  There’s been a lot of talk of a Chauncey Billups/Dampier straight up swap and I’d be all for it except for the fact that the ‘Cats are currently $8 million over the tax line and need to shed salary fast.  There’s no question that the Nuggets would pull the trigger on a trade that would save them $26 million this season but in order for the ‘Cats to make it happen, they’ll need to make another deal first.

SALARY DUMP OPTIONS #1 and #2

CLT trades Boris Diaw and a future first rounder & second rounder to MIN, NYK or SAC for a future 2nd Round selection.
OR
CLT trades Nazr Mohammed + D.J. Augustin to MIN, NYK or SAC for a future 2nd Round selection.

In order to get underneath the luxury tax, the Bobcats need to shed around $8.5 million dollars from their current payroll.  Fortunately, they might have a couple of ways of doing this in Boris Diaw (plus picks) or a Nazr/Augustin combo.  If I’m MJ, I’m on the phone with David Kahn right now whispering, “y’know, we have this young point guard prospect who we-“  KAHN: “Point guard Prospect???!!!  Did you say Point Guard?????!!!”

The Knicks might also be inclined to take on former D’Antoni favorite Diaw while gaining back a first round pick that can be used in the next decade.  (Although I would be a little concerned that the Diaw/Eddie Curry combo might do to IHOPs what Ewing and LJ did to The Gold Club in the late ’90s.)

In the following scenario, let’s say the ‘Cats find a taker for D.J. and Nazr (even if they have to throw in a protected future first), then…

CLT trades Erik Dampier to DEN for Chauncey Billups

The Bobcats suddenly accomplish both of their current offseason goals: Upgrade the Point Guard position and Get Underneath the Luxury Tax.  The team heads into the preseason with a relatively stacked roster.
StateOfTheRoster_Sept2010_TradeHim
Kwame and Diop would try to replicate last year’s Mohammed/Chandler/Ratliff center by committee while a now “huskier” Boris Diaw would rotate between the 4 and 5 spots when Coach Brown goes, uh, “small.”
Chauncey and Shaun Livingston give Larry Brown much bigger options at the point.  McGuire, Derrick Brown, Henderson, Tyrus Thomas plus Crash, Livingston and JAX give Larry Brown a metric ton of “long, athletic” wing players to do his magic with.
Bobcats Salaries Post - Chauncey Trade
From a cap perspective, the Bobcats stay right at the tax line this season while maintaining flexibility going forward.  Billups has a team option for the ’11-’12 season which will almost certainly not be exercised as the league goes into a lockout.  The Bobcats could use their leverage with Billups’ current deal to sign him to a three year contract extension at a much lower per year salary next summer.

IN CONCLUSION

A Billups for Dampier swap makes a great deal of sense for both teams as Denver could save tens of millions this season by promoting Ty Lawson and dumping Chauncey.  The Bobcats would likely cement their rise to the top 4 in the East this season by upgrading from Raymond Felton to Billups.  Hmmm…  What else is there to say?  Bobcats win and win big.

Until next time, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats Fans.

-ASChin

More Fuel For The Chris Paul Fire

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cp3

Save for some banter in the comments and the occasional tweet (oh, and this post from back in April), we’ve tried to treat the Chris Paul “rumors” with a healthy dose of skeptisicm here at Bobcats Baseline.  As my colleague ASChin noted (biting Owen Wilson in the process):  What in Jordan’s history in the front office makes you think he’s capable of something like that?

But this story refuses to die.  First, Rick Bonnell elevated it from “internet rumor” to “semi-legitimate story” with this piece from the weekend that was widely linked to around the intertubes:

Chris Paul as a Charlotte Bobcat isn’t crazy.  It’s unlikely. It’s undoubtedly problematic…

But it’s doable, and I’m told it’s a twinkle in the eyes of this team’s decision-makers.

I figured the resolution of the New Orleans Hornets GM vacancy earlier this week might help to calm the speculation down. Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s John Hollinger even tweeted that Trail Blazer maniacs needed to “stop asking me about CP3. Not happening for at least a year, if ever.”

But Wednesday night CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger tossed a drum of gasoline onto the smoldering embers with this dispatch, titled “New Hornets brass already facing crisis with Paul“.  An excerpt to whet your appetite for the link:

Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com Wednesday.  “He wants out,” said the person…

Now never mind that Berger also reveals that Paul’s list of preferred destinations “consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers.”  What we Bobcats fans know that Berger doesn’t is that Paul really wants to play in his home state, for the founder of the Jumpman brand he endorses, and for Larry Brown.  And that we have cap relief in the form of Dampier’s contract waiting.

And that Carmelo Anthony is coming next.  For Gana Diop.  To complete Team Jumpman.  With World Wide Wes as special advisor.

Right?

-Dr. E

P.S.  Typing in C-h-r-i-s-P-a-u into Google gets you “Chris Paul” followed by “Chris Paul to bobcats” as the top two suggestions.  Ridiculous…




Bobcats Can’t Take Advantage

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Nuggets 1/25/10

Running-Diary style, so I can get some shut-eye.  No Carmelo tonight, due to a sprained left ankle suffered against the New Orleans Hornets the other night; but JR Smith, “eclectic” behavior and all, will be in the lineup.

Bonus pre-game link: ESPN’s John Hollinger continues to show the love, calling Larry Brown the midseason favorite for Coach of the Year (Insider Only).

First Quarter

It is just excruciating to hear Steve Martin and Dell Curry blather on about how this game is available in HD; Time Warner Cable in Charlotte doesn’t carry SportSouth as an HD channel, so we’re stuck in the 90s with SD Crap-O-Vision.  To top it off, it sounds like the audio is coming over ham radio.

The Bobcats begin the game hot from outside, 3-3 from 3-point land (one each for Jack, Boris and Gerald) to take an early 13-8 lead; but the Nuggets don’t seem to be missing Carmelo much, as they take a 29-26 lead after 1.

Pretty standard “two teams feeling each other out” opening quarter, but would have hoped that the Cats could have held a Carmelo-less Nuggets squad to less than 25. 68% FG for the Nuggs in the quarter.

Second Quarter

So last spring, I happened to be in Denver during the playoffs — while eating at Buckhorn Exchange (mmm, bison) I noted that a couple of the waiters had bootleg sky blue t-shirts with the Nuggets main logo, except it had “Thuggets”.  Like this, but in sky blue.  Pretty cool.  I mean, if you have a team full of thugs, you might as well embrace it.

Holy crap, they just showed Nuggets VP of Player Personnel and former Charlotte Hornet great Rex Chapman in the crowd, or maybe it was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Float version of Rex Chapman.  This is how I remember Rex; this is what he looked like probably a couple of years ago.  Take away another 25% of the hair, make what’s left completely gray, and add about 20 pounds.  That’s what he’s looking like tonight.  Troubling…

Back to the game, Bobcats still can’t make any headway and find themselves down 49-42 with 2 and 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter.  Then, a funny moment.

Gerald Wallace accidentally pops JR Smith in the face with an elbow trying to make a post move, but the Nuggets get called for a foul.  Kenyon Martin won’t shut up about the injustice, and gets a tech for his trouble.  Jack misses the technical free throw, and K-Mart sarcastically applauds this while looking right at the ref — second tech, ejected.  It’s moments like this I feel kinda sorry for George Karl.  K-Mart seems to enjoy the process, grinning from ear to ear as he slaps hands with fans as he heads to the showers.

Post K-Mart ejection, the Cats briefly cut it to one, but Aflallo nails a three to put the Nuggs up 56-52 at the half.  Stats are roughly even; both teams shooting a bit over 50% FG, rebounds, assists and turnovers basically the same.  Chauncey and Gerald leading the way for their teams with 17 and 15 points, respectively.  Raymond with 8 assists already, Gerald with 6 rebounds.

Have to like the Bobcats’ chances the rest of the way with no Carmelo or K-Mart.

Third Quarter

Dell Curry and Steve Martin have promoted the rest of the Western Conference road trip about a half-dozen times so far, which has led to a half-dozen slobbering conversations about Dell’s kid, Stephan, who is apparently a rookie for the Warriors.  Who knew?

Every time the Cats get within a bucket, the Nuggs seemingly get one from Chauncey or Aflallo.  Can’t get over the hump, Nuggs up 70-63 with 6 minutes left.

Chauncey Billups is just schooling Felton. 21 points, 9 assists with 5 mins left in 3rd.  Felton just picked up 4th foul trying to defend him.

Meanwhile, Joey Graham is joining the party as the Nuggs go up by 12, 77-65 with 4 mins left.  Where’s Steven?

Mmmpphhh.  Very disappointing 3rd quarter as the Nuggs extend their lead to 84-73.  This is starting to look like a wasted opportunity for the Bobcats.  Gerald Wallace was very quiet after a good first half.

Fourth Quarter

It’s a war of attrition for the Nuggets here, as Birdman Anderson goes down with a rolled left ankle trying to block a Flip Murray layup early in the fourth.  But the Bobcats still can’t capitalize, as Gerald blows a layup on the next possession.

And now Raymond commits his fifth foul with just under 10 minute left and will have to sit.  Bobcats are going to have to get Stephen Jackson going here in the fourth in order to make a run — offense just looks anemic.

Ugh, Aaron Aflallo with another corner three to put the Nuggs up 96-80 with just under 6 minutes left.  And another.  Career night for Aflallo: 24 points on 9-11 FG and 6-7 3PT and 7 assists.

And this one’s over, as Acie Law enters the game for the Cats with 2 and 1/2 minutes left and the Nuggs up 101-86.  Poor effort by the Cats tonight, no one could get it going on the offensive end, especially in the second half.  No Carmelo all game, no K-Mart in the second half, and no Birdman in the fourth, and the Cats can’t take advantage.

Postgame

Final score is 104-93.  AP recap here, box score here.

The Nuggets shoot 10-23 from 3 and 22-26 from the free throw line as Billups, Aflallo and Joey Graham more than make up for Carmelo’s absence.  The Nuggets have won 7 in a row, while the Cats drop their third straight.

Next game is Tuesday night against the Suns, 9PM ET start — maybe we could trade Boris for Amare before the game?

-Dr. E

Bobcats Shut Down Streaking Nuggets

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Nuggets, 12/8/09

Can We Please Take This Show On The Road?

The Bobcats played perhaps their best game of the season on Tuesday night at the Cable Box in defeating the Denver Nuggets 107-95.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats improve to 9-11 (8-3 at home) while Denver falls to 16-6 and has their four-game win streak snapped.

This was a well-played, fun-to-watch, close game that was played at Denver’s pace.  The stars were out as Carmelo Anthony went for 34 points and 7 rebounds, while Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace paced the Cats with 25 apiece.

The game was tied at 87 with 5 minutes left; the Cats went on a quick 8-2 run at that point, highlighted by two tough buckets by Raymond Felton.  The Nuggets were on the ropes at that point, but the Cats didn’t completely put them away until Stephen Jackson drew a shooting foul on Carmelo with under a minute left.  Carmelo eventually drew a tech for arguing the call, and Jackson hit all three free throws to extend the lead to nine.

The Nuggets missed the toughness of Kenyon Martin, who is out with a dislocated pinkie, and were a bit road weary after coming in from Philadelphia last night; but this was still an important win over a very good team.

I mentioned Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace scoring 25 points apiece above, but both stuffed the stat sheets in other ways:  Wallace had 16 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block to stuff the stat sheet.  Better yet, the home crowd is starting to take notice of Gerald’s herculean effort on the boards this year, cheering the individual rebounds.  Jackson had seven rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

Raymond Felton played another strong game with 14 points (6-7 FG, 2-2 3PT) 3 assists vs 1 turnover, and 6 steals, while Nazr Mohammed continued his strong play off the bench with 15 points (9-10 FT) and 5 rebounds.

It remains to be seen whether the Bobcats can parlay this strong showing into some road wins this weekend.  The Cat are abysmal on the road (1-8) and have a dreaded Texas back-to-back coming up: San Antonio on Friday night, Dallas on Saturday.  While neither the Spurs nor the Mavs are as fearsome as they’ve been in the past, both are still formidable.

Bullets

  • DJ played 12 minutes after logging DNP-CDs in the previous two games.  It wasn’t the scintillating bounce-back game I was hoping for, though.  In his first half stint, DJ was outplayed and frankly bullied by Ty Lawson.  DJ’s stint in the second half was slightly better.
  • Roy Williams was in the “Bob Johnson Seats” again to watch Lawson.  And the Bobcats, I’m sure he really loves the Bobcats, too.
  • Tyson Chandler, in his 9th year in the league, apparently still does not understand what does and doesn’t constitute a foul.  He is an absolute magnet for picking up off-the-ball fouls, often when setting screens on offense or trying to play post defense.  The offensive ones are particularly troubling, because the Bobcats just can’t afford to give up possessions like that.  He can’t stay on the floor due to the foul trouble (only 13 minutes tonight), which is well and good, as the team looks better with Nazr in the post anyways.
  • The Cats were 31-37 from the free throw line tonight, with 3 players (Wallace, Jack and Nazr) all hitting at least 8 free throws.
  • The Bobcats get some love from Hollinger’s Playoff Odds Formula, which debuted on Tuesday and is currently projecting us as the 6th seed.
  • Is this the year that Gerald Wallace becomes the first Bobcats to make the All-Star team?  If he can maintain his status as the league’s leading rebounder (tough with Bosh and Howard nipping at his heels) there’s no way they can deny him, right?
  • I’ve got a couple extra tickets to the Saturday, December 19th game against the Jazz — good seats, too.  I’ll be giving them away via Twitter sometime this weekend, so you best be following me.
  • Next game is Friday night in San Antonio, 8:30 PM ET start.

-Dr. E