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.

Lazy Sunday Links

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Sitting around waiting for a goal to be scored in the World Cup final on this sweltering Sunday afternoon?  Lucky for you, as is often the case on Sundays, there’s some pretty good reading out there.

LebronWadeBosh

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst offers a must-read on how the stage was set for these guys to join forces in “South Beach.”  As the Sports Guy has pointed out, there’s way more to this story that will hopefully come out in time, but this is a great start:

Now that the move has been made, the veil of secrecy is being raised to a degree as people are beginning to talk. The Plain Dealer talked to numerous sources to piece together a picture of how James ended up in Miami.  It is still a somewhat fuzzy picture, but here are the broad strokes…

And if you haven’t had a chance to read any of the overwhelmingly negative national reaction to Lebron’s decision, here are two excellent pieces from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Deadspin/New York Magazine’s Will Leitch.

Felton to Knicks

Details of Raymond’s deal with the Knicks are out.  Apparently the deal is for 2 years/$15.8 million.  There is a third year team option for a similar figure which could bring the deal in the neighborhood of $25 million over three years.  Raymond’s decision to pass up the Bobcats’ long term offer last summer is looking worse and worse from his perspective.  Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish his career back in Charlotte as a backup down the road.

Here’s Bonnell’s story for the Observer and some more quotes from a South Carolina paper.  You can tell it’s a South Carolina paper because of the headline: “Felton looks forward to bright lights of the Big Apple”.  Good grief.

Orlando Summer League

We’ve given the Bobcats’ mostly positive turn in last week’s Orlando Summer League short shrift here at the Baseline, but it’s not for lack of caring.  Look for a post on the subject in the coming days.  In the meantime, here’s Bonnell from the Observer with some thoughts:

Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown can be trusted with bigger roles next season… It’s dangerous to put too much weight on summer-league performances — you’re supposed to excel against D-Leaguers — but it was obvious Henderson an Brown are figuring out what it takes to be productive on the NBA level.

The national media outlets pay less attention to the Orlando Summer league relative to the bigger and better Las Vegas Summer League; and when they do cover Orlando, the rookies (Philly’s Evan Tuner and New Jersey’s Derrick Favors in this case) get most of the attention.  Despite that, there were several mentions of the Bobcats young vets looking good.

Michael Jordan in Charlotte

Scott Fowler has a nice article in today’s Observer on Michael Jordan’s increased presence in the city of Charlotte and the Bobcats front office since he, you know, bought the team:

In the three months or so since Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson and became the team’s majority owner, Jordan’s visibility both in the community and in the Bobcats’ offices has increased dramatically.

Jordan has bought a home in uptown Charlotte five minutes from Time Warner Cable Arena and plans to start living there part time in September…

There’s also a slideshow of pictures from the Bobcats Fantasy Camp mentioned in the article.  As I write this, the article is currently the “Most Viewed” on the Observer’s website, and I’ve already been part of an email thread amongst friends discussing it.

Clearly, people care about how engaged Jordan is with the city of Charlotte.  The Bobcats are aware of it; they included questions about “how important” it was to me whether or not Jordan purchased a home here in a survey sent to season ticket holders recently.  Seriously.

Hopefully, people at least see Jordan’s level of engagement with the city an indicator of how engaged he is with the team.  If so, fine.  I suppose it’s a reasonable proxy.

But I guess I’m just a different kind of fan (clearly, I have a blog).  I could care less whether Jordan buys a house in Charlotte, or bowls and eats at the Epicentre.  I don’t need to put on a “Jordan Brand” t-shirt and drool over him at a “fantasy” camp.

I’d be much more happy if the team made sound financial/personnel decisions, stopped whiffing on draft picks, and thus consistently put a competitive basketball team on the court.  They’ve had trouble doing that over the history of the franchise.

2010’s playoff experience was undoubtedly a positive thing, but I’m still dubious of the Cats’ chances for on-court success in the medium-term due to salary cap issues and a lack of elite young talent.

Don’t sell me a bunch of sizzling Air Jordan “value-added” side dishes when the main course needs work.

-Dr. E




Beasley to Bobcats? Let’s Hope So

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Four Way Trade Supposedly in the Works

Michael Beasley ©NBA 2010

UPDATED:

According ESPN.com’ s Chad Ford and Mark Stein, the Bobcats are working on a four team deal that would net them former second overall selection Michael Beasley.  The deal would reportedly send out Tyson Chandler’s expiring to Houston, bring the Rocket’s Jared Jeffries and the Heat’s Beasley to Charlotte while allowing the Toronto Raptors and Heat conduct a sign & trade for Chris Bosh, handing Toronto a massive trade exception in return.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen started the rumor by tweeting that three of the four teams are in with the Raps wavering (read: “we want something else besides cap space in return”).

If the trade goes through, it would be a massive upgrade in talent for the Bobcats who’ve never had a frontcourt scoring presence in their six seasons of existence.  Beasley would instantly upgrade a putrid offense that ranked dead last in the League last season in points per game.

Post will be updated as the story develops.

UPDATE: 11:57pm

Mark Stein is now reporting that Beasley will be shipped off to to the Timberwolves for a second round pick.  Wolves will absorb Beasley’s contract into their cap space and send a second rounder back to Miami.  Also the deal will reportedly offer a first round pick swap in a future draft.

ANALYSIS: Tough loss for the Bobcats who could have gotten Beasley for less than what they paid for Tyrus Thomas back in February.  Beasley has a higher upside and a smaller contract and wouldn’t have cost them a first round pick outright.  Furthermore, the Bobcats might be painted into a corner with Tyrus as a team flush with cap space (the rumor mill suggests New Jersey) will likely offer a front-loaded contract to him.  Hope MJ is prepared to pay the luxury tax because if not, he’ll have thrown away a first round pick for a three month rental of Tyrus Thomas.

-ASChin

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

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

Bobcats’ Road, Turnover Woes Continue In Toronto

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Raptors, 12/30/09

New Year’s Resolutions: Less Turnovers, More Road Wins

The Charlotte Bobcats were defeated 107-103 by the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Toronto.  AP recap here, box score here.  The Bobcats drop to 12-18 overall and a dismal 1-13 on the road.  For the Raptors, the win is their fifth in a row; they improve to 16-17 overall.  The Raptors played without starting PG Jose Calderon; Hedo Turkoglu sat out the second half after suffering a knee bruise in the first half.

It was more of the same for the Bobcats as they committed 23 turnovers.  The Raptors took advantage with 33 points off those turnovers.  In the first quarter, the Bobcats shot over 70%; however, they committed 9 turnovers and finished the period down 31-26.

The Bobcats also had trouble slowing down Chris Bosh — the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent had 33 points (11-20 FG, 11-11 FT) and 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists and a block.

Want A Microcosm?

The last couple minutes of the game serve as a pretty good microcosm for the whole thing.  Down five with under 3 minutes left, the Bobcats were able to get 3 straight buckets in the paint to take a 1 point lead — the Raptors don’t offer much resistance.  On the next Toronto possession, however, Chris Bosh got a easy basket after a clutch post move on an overmatched Boris Diaw to put the Raps back up 1.

Next Bobcats possession (just over a minute left): Stephen Jackson badly misses a 20-footer trying to draw a cheap foul.  Belinelli then missed a wild layup.  Next Bobcats possession: Raymond Felton turnover as he tried to dribble between his legs against a defense that had collapsed on him.  30 seconds left as the Raps go for the win.  The ball goes in to Bosh and the Cats are forced to double; Bosh then makes the right pass out of the double, to Bargnani spotted up at the 3-point line.  Nail in the coffin, as Bargnani nails the 3 — Raps up 4 with 10 seconds left.

Bullets

  • Gerald Wallace had a good game with 15 points/16 rebounds.  He was only able to get to the line 1 time, however, as the Raps were able to shut down his limit his slashing/driving.
  • Besides the 6 turnovers, Raymond Felton had a good game as well: 23 points on 10-12 shooting (!) and 7 rebounds.
  • Stephen Jackson continues to be the main culprit with the turnovers — he had 7 tonight.  What is it about Larry Brown’s offense that seems to cause the main ballhandlers/playmakers (Felton, Diaw, Jackson) to turn the ball over so much?
  • Larry Brown’s postgame comments to the media were very brief.  He was clearly disappointed with the team’s play.
  • Next game is Saturday afternoon (3PM ET start) at Miami — have a safe and happy New Year’s, everyone.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Offense Rips Raptors

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Baseline Observations: Raptors at Bobcats, 11/25/2009

Is This What We’ve Been Waiting For?

The Bobcats dominated the second half to finish the night with a team record-setting win over the Raptors, 116 – 81. Never before had the Bobcats won by such a large margin – 35 pts.

A.P. RecapCharlotte Observer Recap

In past seasons, the Cats were often stretched at the seams by Toronto’s quick, versatile and sharpshooting big men.  Chris Bosh had a great streak of abusing Emeka Okafor, and boosting his stats any time the clubs met.  Heading into this game, the trio of Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and the newly-acquired Hedo Turkoglu looked to hurt Charlotte’s chance at even making this game competitive.

From the opening tip, the Bobcats showed no signs of intimidation from Bosh and Co.  Tyson Chandler set the tone for the Bobcats’ approach within the first minute of play.  Chandler followed a Wallace miss with an easy tap-in for the team’s first two points and then ran the floor to block Chris Bosh’s first shot attempt.  Those two plays forced the Raptors to do two things – hesitate around the rim and keep a man on Tyson. Chandler’s offensive stats don’t show his true presence and impact. Every other Bobcat on the floor benefitted from Toronto’s efforts to stay with both centers, Chandler and Mohammed.  Tyson’s six blocks sparked easy transition points and the Raptors seemed comfortable turning the ball over from start to finish.

For the entirety of the first quarter, the game went back-and-forth.  While no team held command early, there was a sense in the Bobcats’ attitude that they would take over the game at some stretch. Their slight lead at half-time was never threatened by Toronto after Gerald Wallace’s monster start to the second half.  The fluidity and rhythm that the Cats’ offense showed against the Raptors seemed like the complete antithesis of the struggles fans saw against Boston, Cleveland, or Orlando.  This version of the Bobcats showed aggression, speed, and style on offense.  Luckily, the pace of the game didn’t slow as the contest headed toward garbage time in the forth.  The final minutes were just about as entertaining as the rest of the game.  Charlotte worked hard for their Thanksgiving feast and sent the Raptors back to Toronto for whatever they do in Canada on the last Thursday of November.

The Dunk Contest

The Charlotte Observer reported that Larry Brown has decided to slim down the team’s playbook and streamline the complications of their sputtering offense.  The main play featured in this contest was “dunk the ball.”  Just about every Bobcat got a chance to show some style of slam.  Gerald Wallace worked to showcase a highlight reel of dunks and had the crowd on their feet repeatedly.  Still, the “Gold Medal Dunk” came as rookie Derrick Brown turned a steal into a breakaway, two-handed reverse throw-down that had the Cats bench waving their towels around like helicopters.  The final dunk-fest highlight came in the closing garbage time minutes with a high alley-oop lob slam finished by Gerald Henderson.  It’s going to be great to watch this kid leap over the season.

Player of the Game

Gerald Wallace had a strong first half and set the tone of the offense with his continuous drives and cuts to the rim.  The Bobcats’ offense found a rhythm with his constant movement.  While fans have had to suffer through poor 3rd quarters in the past, this one was simply a flurry of Wallace drives and transition points.  G-Force took over early in the 3rd and never let up.  By the end of the period the game was sealed.  Wallace’s final line – 31 pts, 13 rebs, 2 blks.

Unsung Heroes

Stephen Jackson’s 23 points were a great contribution to the team.  More importantly, his presence as an offensive threat kept the Raptors on their heels.  Also, Nazr Mohammed put on another solid performance – 11 pts, 9 rebs, 3 blks.  Whatever kept him on the bench last season was certainly shaken off over the summer.  This guy is really one of the better surprises of the season for Charlotte.

Rookies

Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson were inserted into the game for key stretches of the Bobcats success and both look fairly comfortable as pro basketball players.  Brown really shows tenacity in the paint and shows big potential on defense.  Henderson holds his own as a defender, but seems like he’s a month or two away from being a trusted offensive option.  Still, his speed and understanding of spacing keep him from falling to rookie mistakes.

Next Up : Cats take on the Cavs at the Cable Box this Friday night.  Be sure to get your tickets for the Lebron show and get a free Tyson Chandler growth chart.