Bobcats Stink Up the 3rd Quarter – Why?

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Blech. On the plus side, he didn't try that shot again. (AP Photo)

If you follow the Bobcats fairly closely, you know as well as I that the Bobcats under Paul Silas have struggled in the third quarter lately.  This was no more evident than in yesterday’s game where the Bobcats turned a 16 point lead in the third quarter into a two-point deficit. Also impressive, the Bobcats failed to score a single point in about six minutes during the third while the Timberwolves went on a 11-0 run. The quintessential Bobcats collapse was on. How can this happen every game? What is going on with the team in the third quarter? Can anything be done?

So, last night I decided to grab some comfort food, sit down with my Tivo and make my way through the third quarter often watching in slow-motion. Let’s go through the defensive problems first:

  1. Rebounding – For whatever reason, the Kwame Brown rebounding monster that left the court after the first half did not return after the break. After walloping Kevin Love and all of the Timberwolves on the boards in the first half en route to 12 (!) rebounds, he only grabbed 2 rebounds in the second half. I think that Minny’s centers just came out in the second half with more focus and energy and decided to take control of the glass. Also, our depth at the center is laughably bad, even when they’re all healthy. In the third quarter, the Timberwolves had four offensive rebounds (11 total on the night) while the Bobcats had two (out of 16 total). Whatever it takes, this team needs to come out with more focus on rebounding in the third when teams make their adjustments.
  2. Allowing too much space and losing track of assignments – These are both “lack of focus” problems. As for the former, too often I saw Beasley given the room to knock down mid-range jump shots. Remember, holding someone to mid-range jumpers is only effective when those shots are well-contested – and against Beasley, who has a fantastic offensive skill set, this might not even be enough. Losing track of one’s defensive assignment didn’t happen as often, but it did occur enough that I had to make note of it. This most notably occurred when Kevin Love set a pick for Jonny Flynn near the end of the quarter. Flynn steered away form the pick and for some reason, both Livingston and Diaw drew to Flynn, leaving Love wide open for a three.
  3. Study opponents – I understand this isn’t exactly “defense” but there were some major lapses in preparation that came to fruition for the T-Wolves in the third. It’s no secret that Kevin Love has the range to hit from behind the arc, but for some reason the Bobcats let him go 2-3 from deep in the third quarter. Giving Beasley enough space to comfortably get up mid-range jump shots is unacceptable. Whether it’s the players’ faults for not executing or the staff’s for not drilling it in enough, this needs to get fixed. Know your opponent.

Oh God. Now to the problems on offense.

  1. No one could knock down a shot – It’s that simple. And although simple, this is a serious problem. Against teams that play tough interior defense, the Bobcats will struggle because they are composed mostly of slashers. Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw are great to stretch opposing defenses but when your main two shooters (Augustin and Jackson) are just off or injured, you’re going to have major problems. Luckily for us, Augustin found his shot in the fourth and Tyrus kept us in the game as well. But in the third, with Jackson out, D.J. was finding himself  missing on many shot attempts – most of them wide open.
  2. Poor shot selection – I’ll just talk about some specific points here. From what I saw, D.J. lost confidence in his shot, especially in the third quarter. When Diaw took to posting up in the third, he often drew D.J.’s defender which leaves Augustin nearly wide open. And yet, on one specific occasion I saw D.J. pass up the open three to dribble-drive and pull up 9 feet away for a floater. It was way short. Tyrus Thomas, though excellent on the night, still had his usual problem where he gets the ball along the baseline, gets trapped on a double-team, is forced to pick up his dribble and instead of passing out, he tries a fade-away jump shot that never lands.

But can these problems be corrected?

To a degree, yes. Most of these problems are fairly easy to fix. Force the players to concentrate on boxing out and rebounding. Solve the easy, energy-related problems. As for the inability to make shots, this isn’t as easily fixed. The Bobcats are mainly comprised of slashers and not shooters. And the shooters we do have aren’t extremely talented so when a couple of our best snipers are either injured or are just missing their shots, there is no backup plan. You just have to hope that the Basketball Gods are smiling upon you and that they will bless you with Eduardo Najera treys and Dominic McGuire baseline jumpers. That’s what should really worry us about these recent troubles. It’s a problem that goes far deeper than just gameplan; it’s a problem of roster talent.

- 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.

Supporting Cats Outlast Wolves in OT

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Bobcats go into Minnesota Wednesday night without injured stars Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson and somehow manage to chalk up their first road victory since early November 108-105.  Bobcats rise to 12-21, Wolves fall to 9-27.

AP RECAP | BOX SCORE

Granted, Minnesota isn’t the most feared squad in the league but the fact that coach Paul Silas was able to trot out Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll for significant crunch time minutes and still get the W should count for something.  D.J. Augustin shot out of his slump just in time to bring the Cats back from 5 down with 2:30 to go in regulation, hitting two clutch 3s while Tyrus Thomas sealed the game with a spectacular transition block of a Michael Beasley layup in OT.

OBSERVATIONS

  • This was a fun game to watch.  I can’t remember the last time the ‘Cats have been without both JAX and Crash and it was a blast to see those strange lineups in action.  Carroll/Henderson/Diaw/Thomas/Augustin was surprisingly effective in crunch time.  Carroll cooled down a bit late in the game just as D.J. (16pts, 8asts) was getting started but Matt played well while helping the Bobcats build a surprising 14 point lead in the second quarter.
  • Once Diaw fouled out in OT, Silas had to find another “big” to replace him with.  Not easy when Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed are grounded.  Najera got the nod and while he was less than stellar, Don Juan Draper didn’t hurt them and played the pick and roll game with D.J. well enough to get Augustin a couple of good looks.
  • MASSIVE statistical performance from Minny’s two big guns Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.  Combined 63 points and 27 rebounds.  Just crazy.  Too bad no one else on the team showed up.
  • I can’t get enough of Nikola Pekovic.  Too bad the big Montenegrino couldn’t get more PT.  Scary looking and rocking the Vlade Euro-beard.  Bourne Identity extra?  No.  Cousin to Niko and Roman Bellic?  Yes.
  • I know that Gerald Henderson is in possession of one of the League’s iffier jump shots but why in the hell doesn’t he try to shoot a little more in order to shake off the rust?  Just seven shot attempts for The Sequel in 33 minutes.  Worse yet is that he made a very pretty driving mid-range fadeaway in OT that looked like something out of the Scottie Pippen archives.  We gotta see Henderson play through this.  It may take a while but eventually I can see Henderson turning into a decent shooter.
  • Last but not least: Tyrus Thomas.  Showed that he is better and can impact the game in more ways than Michael Beasley.  I know that he isn’t consistent but damn, when Tyrus is on he is on.  21 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks and only one turnover in 36 minutes of knee troubled play.  Best free agent signing in Michael Jordan history?  Yup.

Nice to see the Bobcats win but they are still nine games under .500 and look to have some serious rebuilding issues going forward.  If Mark Cuban calls and says that they’d take Gerald Wallace and his $23 million due over the next two seasons for Caron Butler’s expiring contract and a protected first rounder, wouldn’t you have to say “yes?”

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Win 105-100, Survive Pistons’ Comeback Effort

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AP photo

After nearly blowing a 22-point lead, the Bobcats held on to narrowly defeat the Detroit Pistons in Paul Silas’ first game as interim head coach of the Bobcats.

AP Recap | Box Score

First off, I’m tired. I worked during the game tonight, which included being on my feet for about five hours. I recorded the game on Tivo and watched it when I got home. Due to my exhaustion, I’m forgoing my usual game recap format for just writing tidbits in bullets.

  • As Coach Silas said earlier in the week, this team ran and they did it pretty well. The free-flowing offensive style especially seemed to help the guards.
  • D.J. Augustin looked like a completely different D.J. Augustin tonight, scoring 27 points with 4 assists and zero turnovers. He shot 4-6 from behind the arc and just looked like he had been unrestrained. His confidence level seemed to be off the charts as he shot 66.67% from the field.
  • Shaun Livingston benefited from the change as well, as he put up a ridiculous stat line in limited minutes: 7 rebounds, 4 points, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and zero turnovers. But if D.J. plays as well as he did tonight, I think we can all accept Livingston playing in such a limited capacity.
  • DeSagana Diop played unusually well, blocking 3 shots, pulling down 4 rebounds and somehow scoring 4 points (!).
  • Boris Diaw had an underrated night. Though I’d like to see him be a little more aggressive and take some more shots, he was efficient on offense by making 3 of 5 shots from the field, dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. I really liked the energy I saw out of him tonight. He was chasing rebounds  with a desire we rarely see and he didn’t have to handle the ball much, resulting in fewer turnovers than usual (three).
  • Stephen Jackson was both excellent and awful and nearly recorded a triple-double with 23 points on 17 field goal attempts, 9 rebounds and 9 turnovers. Jackson excelled most often when he wasn’t trying to create a shot in the post. Coincidentally, being given the ball in the post is often where Jackson’s turnover’s originate. Opponents double-team him and force him into making bad decisions. Jackson also had some problems when he thought teammates would be somewhere where they weren’t. I think mistakes like that will disappear as the team gets better acclimated with Silas’ offense.
  • Tyrus Thomas, though mistake-prone, saved the game for the Bobcats when the game came down to the line. Yes, I am completely aware he bricked those two free throws that would have iced the game but before that he dominated on both sides of the court. Up by one, Augustin drove to the basket only to get blocked near the rim. Seemingly out of nowhere, Tyrus flew in and slammed the put-back jam to put the Bobcats up three. Then on the defensive end, Tyrus erased a Will Bynum layup. And yet, Tyrus is still having major problems with control. He cannot be a major ball-handler as he can easily get too wild with the ball, often resulting in offensive fouls or turnovers. Tonight he had 6 turnovers. Not good.
  • The Bobcats allowed the Pistons to come back through ineffective stagnant offense and a lack of rebounding in the later parts of the game. Period. There’s not much more i can say except to describe the offensive possession that sums it all up. Ahead by three points, Augustin let the shot clock wind down in an effort to kill time. Tayshaun Prince was guarding him after a defensive switch. And instead of trying to take Prince, D.J. passed the ball off to Boris Diaw at the 3-point line, leaving Boris a second to get off a shot, which was inevitably a brick.
  • Charlie Villanueva. He went off tonight. I don’t think there was much of anything we could do to stop him. His release was so quick and his range so wide that he is a tough defensive assignment. Once again, he hit a buzzer beater to end a quarter of play.
  • Re: Henderson, Carroll and Derrick Brown – Henderson wasn’t great, especially offensively, but he did help hold Ben Gordon to 17 points on 16 attempts. That said, he had some good looks on offense but just couldn’t make them. I don’t think he misses those shots too often again. Matt Carroll played well tonight also. He really has improved defensively over the past few years. His work ethic has always been there and it shows. However, he just isn’t a guy who should be getting more than 20 minutes in a game. Still, Matt’s my dude. Derrick Brown continues to be Derrick Brown. He’s calling for alley-oops. He’s dunking on everyone. He’s just fun to watch.
  • Perhaps the best thing about tonight’s game is the energy it brought back into the arena. The past few games I’ve attended and seen broadcast look like the crowd is just disinterested. In the second quarter tonight, the place sounded alive. We put the game on at our restaurant and people watched that quarter in awe.

Here’s to Paul Silas and his future with the Bobcats!

- Cardboard Gerald

Another Half-Hearted Effort in Indy

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Bobcats sorta show up against the Pacers Friday night and kinda try to stay in the game until finally losing a winnable game against an okay Indy team 100-92.

AP Recap | Box Score

In the tradition of the Bobcats effort of late, I’m gonna sorta attempt this recap.  Basically the Bobcats are good enough to stay in games and win a few of them when they feel like it and aren’t bad enough to be blown out.  After tonight’s loss, the Pacers are 3.5 games up on the Cats for 7th seed in the East.  I’ll be honest, I really tried watching all 48 minutes of this game but the effort was just so poor that I found myself reading about Julian Assange and his amazing ability to have sex with a woman in her sleep.  Stephen Jackson should know something about this, Pressure ain’t been made love to in a long time.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • I hope word comes that Gerald Wallace (who quietly had a big statistical night @26/13) has been nursing some sort of nagging injury during the first month of the season ’cause he looks as slow and grounded as I’ve seen from him in six years.  Two mis-played finishes around the basket (one from a pass inside from JAX during the 2nd and one on a putback attempt in the 3rd) would have been highlight dunks just a few years ago.  The good news is that Crash is still driving and still working for boards.  I just hope that Wallace hasn’t permanently moved on from the explosiveness of years past.
  • The one major highlight for me so far this season has been watching D.J. Augustin transform into a real deal NBA starting point.  Even though he had a relatively quiet night (8pts, 5asts), you can see that he’s figuring it out fast.  I know that Raymond is having a career year up in NYC (albeit in D’Antoni-Land*) but within the next two seasons I’d bet that D.J. becomes the better all-around player…
  • …That said, it might be time for us to declare Raymond a natural born winner.  He did it on the collegiate level and pushed a mediocre Bobcats team to the Playoffs last season and is doing solid work with a 15-9 squad in Manhattan this season.  Just hope he doesn’t have to go against Jameer again in the first round.
  • 7 Turnovers for Stephen Jackson in this one.  Enough already.  You can’t have three players who handle the rock as much as JAX, Crash and Boris Diaw average 9 TOs per game.  In comparison, Boston’s big three of Pierce/Garnett/Allen only average 4.4 a contest.  Gotta put the blame solely on Coach Brown for this one.  You’ve had two seasons to figure this out and the team is still coughing up the ball at a horrendous rate.

You gotta believe that LB and MJ are working the phones in order to salvage the season.  The Playoffs are still within reach (barely) but the team will need to make a solid run by the All-Star break in order to separate from a crowded pack.  The current configuration just isn’t putting in the extra effort that made last year’s team overachieve.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

Bobcats Outplayed by Depleted Bucks

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The Bobcats go into Milwaukee against a short handed Bucks team without core players Andrew Bogut and Corey Magette and manage to lose their tempers and the game 104-101 despite another excellent effort from D.J. Augustin (26 points, 6 assists) and a stellar performance from the bench. Bobcats fall to 6-11, Bucks improve to 6-10.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • Captain Jean Luc Richard Mbah a Moute frustrated Gerald Wallace all evening. Crash couldn’t get anything easy from the post or on the break as Richard was all over him. You won’t see it in the box score (6-12 for 19 points and 5 boards) but Wallace was simply a non-factor for most of the game.  Worse yet, Crash left the game at the :07 second mark with a hyper-extended elbow.  Great.
  • I’ve been writing about it for weeks and it finally happened Saturday night. The refs are openly baiting Stephen Jackson with egregious no-calls. It’s been going on since opening night and JAX finally bit at the 4 minute mark when Eli Roe tossed him. The incident in question was pretty blatant and Jackson was valid in arguing for it. Two Buck players made contact on a JAX post move while Roe stood just a few feet away. I don’t know what the answer is going forward but Larry Brown needs to make a call and send a tape to the League office about this issue pronto. This needs to be discussed.
  • It would be wrong to blame D.J. Augustin or his predecessor for their roles in the Brandon Jennings Explosion. The second year point guard has owned the Bobcats for most of his young career and did so again tonight, going for 32 on 10-21 from the field including 6-13 from deep. For one, Jennings is a very good player and he feasts on many outside of the orange and blue but secondly, Larry Brown’s strict man to man D opens the door for ultra-quick, unlimited range PGs like Jennings to wreak havoc. Fortunately for the Bobcats, there aren’t many human beings on the planet who fit that criteria. Fortunately for the Bucks, one of them is their starting point guard.
  • Big night for the Bobcats second unit as they combine to score 56 points in spite of an off night from Tyrus Thomas (3-7, 8 points). Both Shaun Livingston and Dominic McGuire log around 30 minutes each and notch 16 and 13 points respectively. McGuire was an absolute BEAST on the boards with 15. Between McGuire and Derrick Brown, the team is much better prepared to be without Gerald Wallace than Stephen Jackson as the dropoff from JAX to Matt Carroll is just too significant.
  • I tweeted a trade idea on Friday and I’ll elaborate on it here today: As Al Jefferson is fitting in with his new Utah team like jazz in Salt Lake City, why not send Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera to Utah for Big Al? Utah could get out from under Jefferson’s lengthier deal and place a much better pick & role player like Diaw into the rotation with Paul Milsap. Meanwhile, Jefferson does for the Bobcats what Zach Randolph has done for Memphis: provide a bonafide post scorer (albeit of the black-hole variety) who opens up the three and demands a double team down low. I also can’t think of a better long term frontcourt mate for Tyrus Thomas than Al.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Overcome Turnovers to Vanquish Wizards

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Gerald Wallace and Al Thornton battling for the ball via Chuck Myers/MCT

The Charlotte Bobcats held on to a late lead Friday night to beat the Washington Wizards 93-85, stringing together their first win streak of the season. Three players in particular stepped their game up tonight: Gerald Wallace (surprising, huh?), D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw. The defense also played pretty well, holding the Wizards to 42% shooting, notably holding Al Thornton and Gilbert Arenas to a combined 3-22 on the night.

And it can’t be stressed enough that the Bobcats, who won a total of 13 games on the road last year, have already won three while out of town. The 2009-2010 Bobcats’ third road victory came on January 3, 2010. So maybe we can curtail our worrying a little bit?

AP Recap | Box Score

I’m going to be writing recaps in my own style, which I call Yays and Nays, Yays of course being good things and Nays being, well, I should hope you can guess that.

Yays

  • Gerald Wallace – He was in top form once again, shooting nine of fifteen from the field and adding six free throws for a total of 25 points. He filled out the rest of the box score as usual, wrenching down 14 rebounds (6 offensive), getting two steals and two blocks. Oh, and for kicks and giggles, he had an assist to boot. All that, AND he only had one turnover. You can’t really ask him to play much better. He got the job done defensively as well, helping to hold Al Thornton to a measly two points on one of eight field goals. Something that may be going unnoticed, though, is his three point shooting. He’s being very careful about picking his shots from downtown. A career 31.8% shooter from beyond the arc, he’s knocking ‘em down at a career high percentage this season with 42.9%. He only took one three tonight and made it. Also, he’s just awesome on rebounding. He has the awareness and the athleticism to pull down boards over men who are much taller. At the end of the third quarter, he ran baseline, snagged the rebound off of a Knee Man miss, and somehow noticed time expiring and shot a fade away that drained as the buzzer sounded. Unfortunately it didn’t count as replay showed the ball to be on his fingertips a millisecond after the red light flashed. Bobcats fans, never wonder why I chose to make a cardboard doppelganger of that man.
  • D.J. Augustin - November 24, 2008. That was the last (and first) time D.J. had a double-double. Until today, that is. Our new starting point guard was impressive tonight, shooting five of eight from the field for 17 points with three 3-pointers. He tacked on 10 assists with a steal and a pair of rebounds. It seems that this season D.J. is looking more often to pass than shoot, and it shows. However, he turned the ball over four times. On an up note, one one of those came in the second half. He wasn’t killed on the defensive end either tonight, which is surprising (no offense, D.J.). I was legitimately worried about Wall playing against us as he was just coming off his first triple double and we have had trouble with young, quick guards (see: Jennings, Brandon). Although Wall got off to a good first half, recording nine assists, he never shot particularly well. Augustin gave Wall a lot of space around the arc but generally played him tight inside that little line. Wall is a fantastic, talented point guard, so it’s hard for me to be disappointed with D.J. after the way he played tonight. KUDOS.
  • Boris Diaw – I haven’t given up hope with this guy just yet. He’s frustratingly inconsistent but when he comes to play, he just has an amazing skill set that ranges from three point shooting, good layups, sweet dishes and some above-average defense. Boris shot eight of ten for 19 points, including a perfect two for two from downtown. Le Miserable had five rebounds and five assists, as well. But, he also had four turnovers. And he was straight abused by Andray Blatche in the first quarter. But Blatche never fully regained his form after he took a rough tumble initiated by Nazr. Nevertheless, Diaw knocked down open shots that the Wizards D let him take, which allowed us to hold onto the lead until it was over and I could stop worrying about us blowing a late lead.

Nays

  • TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS – The Bobcats had ten, count ‘em, TEN, turnovers in the first quarter. Somehow the Bobcats stayed in the game as the Wizards could take advantage of the extra possessions and only had a three point lead after the first. However, the Bobcats reduced their turnovers immensely and cut the Washington lead to one at the half. The Cats once again had trouble with turnovers, this time in the third quarter. And once again, they managed to reduce the turnovers as the game went on and they were able to pull out the win.
  • Stephen Jackson, Quarters One Through Three – What is going on with Stephen Jackson? For most of every game except in the fourth quarters, it seems he’s the invisible man. His defense is passable but his offense just is not there. He didn’t drive nearly as much as he used to, preferring to post up and spot up on the three point line for shots. And in quarters one through three, he shot two of seven overall and zero for four from three. And he had four turnovers on the entire game. I think his turnover problem stems from his post game. His size advantage at the SG allows him to post up, nearly at will. but when the double-team comes, he gets overwhelmed and struggles to make a good pass.
  • The Bench – Coming not even a day after I posted my article on how impressed I was by the Bobcats’ second team so far, the bench arrived in underwhelming fashion. Usually the +/- statistic is one of the most misleading, but tonight it was somewhat correct (though still nowhere close to a good statistic): no one on the bench had a positive +/-. The closest person was Sherron Collins who played five seconds. They combined to shoot four of twenty, with no player scoring more than one bucket. Even Knee Man shot a miserable one of five. The only redeeming factor was Tyrus Thomas’ nine rebounds. Even he struggled with Yi Jianlian, who held Tyrus to one of six shooting and four points. On the plus side, Tyrus had five offensive rebounds. Extra possession = extra points.
  • Matt Carroll’s Free Throw Shooting - Seriously Matt? You’re going to tease  us with your 184 free throw streak in the off-season and you miss your first attempt of the season? On a technical free throw, no less? Sad face.

Odds and Ends

  • Nazr and Gana – they weren’t terrible nor outstanding, so I’ll just describe their play here. Nazr continues to frustrate me to the nth degree, by not blocking out well and just playing mediocre defense, in general. However, he can hit most open short range shots and even has some decent post-game going on. Diop coming off the bench, play good defense, rebounded fairly well and only took one shot, which if remember correctly, was not a jump shot, so I can’t complain too much. All in all, I’d give our center play a big “meh.”
  • As noted above, Sherron Collins was put in for five seconds. And who says Larry Brown doesn’t play his rookies? Just kidding, I know he has two able-bodied point guards ahead of Collins.
  • If you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here is my Shaun Livingston (KNEE MAN) photoshop:

Shaun Livingston is... KNEE MAN

  • Gotta say Larry Brown did as good as he could have with the rotation tonight, except for overusing Jackson. The bench did not play very well tonight and the starters played exceptionally well. Heck, Derrick Brown got stuff by the rim on a dunk.
  • Oh yeah, if you haven’t heard by now, Kevin Love had 31 rebounds against the Knicks. In comparison, the Wizards had a total of 30 rebounds. Yeah, that just happened.

From here, the Bobcats take on the very, very hot, nay incendiary Utah Jazz with the great play of Paul Millsap and Deron Williams. If the Bobcats are the Bobcats of old and play up to their competition, maybe (MAYBE) we sneak one out at home and prove to the home crowd that our slow start was just that – a slow start. For those with tickets in Charlotte, don’t sell your season tickets just yet, this team has a lot left in the tank and a lot of room to improve.

Don’t lose hope just yet.

Cardboard Gerald

Veteran Spurs Too Professional for Bobcats

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Oh, to be a Spurs fan.  Year after year of professional execution on and off the court: drafting top European talent in later rounds, finding NCAA collegiate castoffs, under-paying for overlooked role players and retaining homegrown stars.  It was that dedication to excellence, to the minutia of the game, that defeated an otherwise solid effort by the Bobcats 95-91 Monday night in Charlotte.  ‘Cats fall to 1-6, Spurs move to 5-1.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • Gary Neal is this year’s George Hill. Fifteen points in fourteen minutes on five three pointers, the 26 year old “rookie” from B-more via Europe killed the Bobcats this evening from beyond the arc.  Neal set up camp outside and never hesitated, often finding himself wide open until Charlotte decided to cover him in the 4th.  Too late.  Neal and Manu Ginobili were the difference makers in this one, combining for 10 threes and total of 41 points.
  • Manu is back. Ginobili looked like his old self, leaving his man in a trail of screens and ferreting himself free for numerous putbacks and second chance opportunities.  Combined with the outstanding depth of quality youngsters on the roster (Neal, Hill, Splitter, Blair, Anderson), a healthy Manu might keep the Spurs’ title window open for yet another season.  They look good.
  • Stephen Jackson is on the Verge.  If I’m Larry Brown, I’m putting a call into the highest levels of the League Office.  The refs have been openly baiting Jackson for an ejection all season.  Tonights 4 free throw attempts were JAX’s first in three games and he should’ve had at least a half dozen more.  I swear I’m not being a homer, the no-calls are near egregious and it is only a matter of time until Jackson has some sort of mental breakdown either on the court or off.  You can see it in his body language.  Something is brewing and the officials know it.
  • Both Jackson and Gerald Wallace were held out of the game late.  Jackson didn’t seem hurt but Wallace left in the third with an undisclosed injury.  Brown may have pulled JAX simply for his performance: another 6 Turnovers for Stephen to add to his 3.5/game average.  Again, the refs agenda seems to have distracted him to the point were he’s openly forcing passes and dribble drives that aren’t there.
  • Nice games by Tyrus Thomas, Boris Diaw and Gana Diop. Tyrus continues to hustle on every play, blocking shots and going for loose balls.  His skill level is still low but you gotta love the effort.  Diaw looked good again despite the added bulk, going for 15pts, 6rbs, 5asts.  Let’s hear it for Gana Diop! He’s gone from being an absolute joke and salary cap albatross to “an overpaid backup center.”  Gana really defended Tim Duncan well during his 15 minutes of action, looking much more fluid and mobile this year and while he’s no Brook Lopez offensively, he’s not killing the team on that end anymore.  Those fortunate enough to watch the game may have witnessed Gana’s first (and possibly last) turnaround fadeaway twelve footer from the block.  Nothin’ but net.

Yeah, the Bobcats are 1-6 but I’m still not panicking.  One through twelve, the roster has never been as solid and I have to believe that Brown and MJ are working the phones to upgrade the PG position soon.  Nothing against D.J. — he’s doing as well as we could have hoped — but he’s simply not the long term answer at the most important position on the floor.  ‘Cats are much better than their record and I fully expect them to make the Playoffs come April.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin