Mavs Continue Dominance Of Bobcats

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Mavs 3/1/10

The Charlotte Bobcats fell to the Dallas Mavericks at the Cable Box 89-84, falling to 0-12 versus Dirk and Co. all time.  AP recap here, box score here.  After fleetingly moving up into the 8th spot when Miami lost back-to-back games over the weekend, the Cats have fallen back to 9th place in the East at 28-30 overall.

The Cats came out strong in this one, building an early 20-9 lead midway through the first quarter.  Another spurt to end the second had the Cats up 53-43 at the half.  Tyrus Thomas had a great first half, keeping Dirk quiet on the defensive end and pacing the Cats with 12 points.

But the second half was a different story, as the Cats could only muster 31 points the rest of the way and were overtaken midway through the fourth quarter.  The offense looked like a hot mess.

Here’s what you need to know: The Cats had more turnovers (11) in the second half than field goals (9).  Tyrus Thomas led the Cats with 16 FGA.  Gerald Wallace had just 8, with only 1 (a 20 foot jumper) in the deciding fourth quarter.  Stephen Jackson finished with 20 points on 6-14 FG, but spent more time fussing at referees and turning the ball over (6 times) than scoring.  There were three airballs in the fourth quarter, plus a monumental brick by Boris on a three attempt.

Meanwhile, despite decent defensive efforts from Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas, Dirk Nowitzki heated up and finished with 27 on 12-23 FG to put the Cats away.  Caron Butler went for 22 on 10-16 FG, while Jason Terry contributed 20 on 8-17 FG off the bench.  The Mavericks are now the hottest team in the league with 8 wins in a row.

Fading

Why did the Cats fade so badly after a solid first half?  You could argue that the Cats don’t have a go-to guy like Dirk, who can get buckets and draw double-teams.  You’d be partially right, but in Stephen Jackson we have the closest thing we’ve ever had to that guy, and he’s been pretty good this season.

You could argue that the pressure of facing the elite Mavericks, knowing that they were winless against them all-time, got to the Cats and caused some tightness.  I couldn’t prove you wrong.  It’s certainly happened before.

But tonight it appeared that the main factor was fatigue.  I tweeted halfway through the fourth quarter that the Bobcats looked to have “run out of gas” and I was right.  You could just feel the exhaustion and sense that the Mavs had more in the tank.  (Sad, since they were coming off a late back-to-back AND are more veteran-heavy than the Cats are.)

We’ve been worried about it all season.  Gerald Wallace leads the league at 42.4 minutes per game, while Stephen Jackson is sixth at 39.5.  Now look at the the rest of the guys at the top of that list (Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, etc.) — all younger.  Crash and Jack have too many miles on them to be playing 40+ minutes a game regularly, and I fear that we’re starting to see all that court time take a toll.

Tidbits

  • Glad that Jordan finally bought the team, hope it leads to him being around and engaged more often, but I could care less whether he plays HORSE with Gerald Henderson at shootaround or gladhands local politicians.  Wake me when he does some real homework and makes a good first round draft selection, or shows some understanding of the salary cap.
  • No Nazr (back spasms), Chandler (foot/ankle) or Diop (knee) tonight.  Really could use Nazr back playing 15-20 mins, then Theo playing 10.  Might allow Gerald to get a couple more minutes of rest.
  • So the Cats won’t be signing Larry Hughes or Mike James, but what about Michael Finley?  Sounds like he’s headed for the Celtics or Lakers, and not sure how much he brings to the table anymore, but you’d hope that Jordan/Higgins at least make a call.  Is Finley still a Brand Jordan guy?
  • Next game is Wednesday night in Boston — sounds like Pierce will be back in the lineup.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Score Decisive Win Over Cavs (Witness This!)

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Cavaliers 2/20/10

Thomas, Ratliff Impressive in Debuts

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-93 before a sellout crowd at the Cable Box on Friday evening.  AP recap here, box score here.  After losing their initial matchup in the opening days of the season, the Cats have since defeated the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers three straight times.

The game was tied 50-50 at the half, but the Cats pulled away midway through the third and kept a double digit lead through the fourth quarter.  It was over when a Boris Diaw steal led to a Gerald Wallace fast break dunk to put the Cats up by 17 with just under three minutes left.

The lead storyline in this one has to be the relative performances of each team’s newcomers.  The day before the trading deadline, the Cavs traded for Antawn Jamison in a move that has been lauded around the league.  However, Jamison looked rusty and tentative in his debut for the Cavs, and probably cost them the game.  Jamison seemed passive, yet finished with the second highest FGA for the game with 12.  Furthering the problem, he didn’t hit any of them — yep, 0-12 FG.  Jamison had several shots blocked and had two airballs from three-point range.

Meanwhile, Bobcats newcomers Theo Ratliff and Tyrus Thomas probably couldn’t have asked for better debuts.  With Tyson Chandler (foot/ankle) and Gana Diop (knee) sidelined, Ratliff was pressed into early duty to back up Nazr Mohammed.  He entered the game with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter and within 90 seconds had recorded his first block for the Bobcats (on the aforementioned Jamison).  Ratliff went on to log 18 minutes in the game, mostly spent valiantly guarding Shaq and gathering rebounds.  Ratliff ended with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, no FGA or FTA.  Perfect line for the guy.

Tyrus Thomas entered the game for Ratliff a little later in the first quarter and quickly went about filling up the stat sheet.  He recorded his first block less than fifteen seconds after checking in, and went on to block 5 more.  By the fourth quarter, Thomas’ mere presence in the lane was affecting the Cavs’ decisions in the lane.  Thomas also swallowed up tons of boards, eventually totaling 12 in his 25 minutes of playing time.

If Larry Brown can work the same magic for Tyrus that he’s worked for Gerald Wallace, then we’ll be in great shape.  On second thought, “magic” is a poor choice of words there.  There’s nothing magic about what’s happened to Gerald’s game, or what needs to happen to Ty’s game — it’s just simple maturation, getting smarter about the game, picking your spots, slowing down a bit while maintaining necessary aggression, minimizing your weaknesses and highlighting your strengths.

Beneath his morose surface, you know Larry Brown is quietly pumped about the prospect of teaching Tyrus all that he’s never been taught about basketball.  I imagine the dynamic kind of like Stellan Skarsgaard and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting; only I hope this doesn’t end with Tyrus lighting Larry Brown’s playbook on fire, then going to cry in Phil Jackson’s embrace while the Zen Master repeats “It’s not your fault.”

Witness

A secondary storyline has to be what in the world the Bobcats are doing to Lebron James.  Lebron had a quiet 22 point, 9 assist game; he has averaged 22.5 points in the four games against the Cats this year, well below his 30 ppg average.

The Cats don’t seem to be doing anything too fancy to Lebron.  It helps that Gerald Wallace is the primary individual defender, of course, and that Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw are the guys that most frequently get switched onto him — all of those guys can at least hold their own.  But the key is more in the team defense that the Cats play — the traps in the backcourt, the aggressive help defense, the good rotations out to the jump shooters.

Odds And Ends

  • It’s unfortunate I’ve gotten this far without mentioning the guy who put the ball in the hole all night for the Cats; Stephen Jackson led the offensive charge with 29 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3PT, 8-10 FT) while also adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
  • Boris and DJ both had their best games in some time, looking confident and decisive.
  • The only downside I can see to Ty Thomas being a big part of the Bobcats down the stretch (other than the general combustibility and questionable basketball IQ, or course) is that Gerald’s rebounding numbers are probably going to drop.  Not that they were going to rise back to a league-leading level without him around, but still…
  • Tyson Chandler, we hardly knew ye…
  • Does anyone else think Shaq might be pushing 350 lbs?  And those awful Chinese shoes he’s wearing look like locomotives.
  • I hadn’t realized this until looking at the standings after the game, but due to their recent stumble, the Cats have fallen down to 8th place in the East.  Which means that if the season ended today, we’d face these Cavs in the first round.  Interesting matchup, huh?
  • Not only were the Cats on point all night, but so was the Cable Box’s WiFi.  Got lots of Tweets in — follow me!
  • Quick turnaround, as the Cats have a back-to-back Saturday night in Milwaukee, 8:30 PM ET start.  This one’s important, as the Bucks are the primary threat to jump into the playoff picture in the East.  Currently, they’re only half a game behind the Cats in the standings.  Furthermore, the Cats are 1-1 against the Bucks so far this year, with Saturday’s meeting and a late season tilt still to go.  A victory tomorrow night guarantees we wouldn’t lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with them if it came down to that at the end of the year.

-Dr. E

Breaking Trade News: Theo Ratliff To Bobcats

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theo

So much for Rick Bonnell’s guess that the Bobcats wouldn’t be participating much in the trade deadline madness today.

After completing the Tyrus Thomas deal (initial post here, more analysis still coming) and engaging in talks about a DJ for TJ Ford swap, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting, via his Twitter feed, that the Bobcats have obtained shot-blocking veteran center and Larry Brown favorite Theo Ratliff from the San Antonio Spurs.

At the time I write this, all we have is Woj’s initial Tweet.  We have no idea who (or what) the Bobcats are giving up — or even really if this trade is official.

Ratliff is a 14 year veteran of the league after being drafted by the Pistons in 1995.  He had his glory days in the late 90s/early 00s with the Philadelphia 76ers and then Atlanta Hawks, respectively.  With the Sixers, the tough and defensive-minded Ratliff was a favorite of then-coach Larry Brown.

However, in the midst of his best season (2000-01), while averaging 12.4 points and an astounding 3.7 blocks per game, Ratliff suffered a season-ending wrist injury and was traded to the Hawks for Dikembe Mutombo.  The Sixers would go on to make the Finals with Allen Iverson as the centerpiece in one of Brown’s finest coaching achievements.

As his career has wound down in recent years, Ratliff has become a true journeyman, playing for the Blazers, Hawks, then Blazers again, Boston, Detroit again, Minnesota, then back to Philly.  Ratliff was humorously dubbed “Theo Ratliff’s Expiring Contract” by ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons due to all of the trades, rumored and otherwise, that Ratliff was a part of in recent years.

This year, he was signed by the Spurs to a one-year deal for 1.3 million.   Though he still appears to be in great shape, he’s only appeared in 21 games for the Spurs, averaging less than a bucket, but still one block, per game.

For Charlotte, this clearly means that some of the very recent injury concerns among the bigs are significant.  Tyson Chandler has been battling foot/ankle issues since last season that appear to still be problematic, Gana Diop has a sprained knee that may keep him out for two weeks, and Nazr’s been bothered by back spasms this week.

Rick Bonnell is reporting that all three of those guys may be held out of Friday’s matchup with the Cavs, so we may see Ratliff move from the end of the Spurs bench to the Bobcats starting lineup in the matter or a little over 24 hours.

UPDATE:  Since I started composing this post, Wojnarowski has Tweeted that the Bobcats have given up a protected/conditional future 2nd round pick that the Spurs “will probably never see.”  Cool.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Lose Close Game In LA

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Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats at Lakers , 2.4.10

Lakers-99 Bobcats-97

AP Recap | Box Score

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The End of The Road

Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers marked the end of a long road trip through the West for the Charlotte Bobcats. The LA Lakers had just returned home from an East Coast swing, and a loss to the surging Memphis Grizzlies two nights earlier. Going into the game, Bobcats fans could only hope that Gerald Wallace would put together another star caliber performance to fuel Charlotte’s 4th straight win on the Lakers homecourt. Everyone expected Kobe Bryant to have a huge scoring night, with the Cats defense as the only weapon available to keep them in the game.

Well, the game ended up playing out a bit differently than anticipated. Hours before tip-off, Gerald Wallace was ruled out with a strained hamstring. Stephen Graham was placed into the starting line-up and it looked like that match up would give Kobe way too much of an edge. Remarkably, Kobe Bryant wasn’t much of a presence at all against the Bobcats. This was likely the result of early game strategy and an awkward injury late in the 2nd quarter. Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson did assert himself in this one, though. Jackson showed what the Bobcats had been lacking during that “missing offense” stretch that started the season –  an “alpha male” to take the lead role. “Jack” totaled 30 points, and kept former teammate Ron Artest to 14 on the night.

Bryant’s slow first quarter and the Bobcats steady counter-punches set the game at a pace that wouldn’t allow LA to take control. Both teams worked the ball inside-out, with Charlotte choosing to drive the lanes while the Lakers stayed with their proven formula of spacing by perimeter shooting.

Impact Players

The big men for both clubs were major influencers throughout the game. Boris Diaw was in early foul trouble, never found his rhythm, and ended the game with 0% shooting (mostly from the three point line). Still, the Cats competed from start to finish with the help of a line up shaped on the fly. Without Wallace and Diaw, Charlotte used Gana Diop to pair with Nazr Mohammed for the first time all year. This could have spelled disaster, but it actually worked out immediately. On one offensive possession in the 1st, there was a “Diop-to-Mohammed” moment for a lay in. Nazr’s strong play on the offensive end was complimented by Diop’s work on the boards and defense. Gana was hustling and it was like watching the re-emergence of Mohammed all over again. It’s hard to believe that this guy had been hidden on the bench for so long. Of course, he did bring his game down to earth with a “Classic Diop” airball freethrow.

On the other side of the court, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum showed that they are a championship tandem. There’s really no other team with such strong players at the 4 an 5 positions. Charlotte was fortunate to get great games from Mohammed and Diop to match their impact. Bynum had his way in the paint from start-to-finish. Oddly, he chose to practice his hook shot against the Cats. Luckily, his hook is still a work in progress. LA’s bench was strong, as usual. Reserves Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown really pushed their team during Bryant’s absence.

Overall, the Bobcats point guards had a strong outing against Old Man Fisher and Jordan Farmar. Raymond Felton came out of the gate focused and full of energy. He closed the first quarter shooting 4 of 6, with one of those being a cross-court heave at the buzzer. DJ Augustin stepped into the game and kept the same pattern of attack, scoring 6 quick and finding his teammates inside and out. Felton’s strong showing benefitted him late in the game, as he carried the ball and likely stepped out of bounds with 10 seconds left and the Cats down by 3. Fortunately, it appears that the refs will give you the benefit of the doubt when you play a good game and the pace quickens. Refs have missed worse things in the past.

Closing Time

With those 10 seconds left, the Bobcats worked out a three-point play during a time out.  But, the Cats gave away their opportunity to tie on a sloppy inbounds pass from Stephen Jackson to Raymond Felton. The Lakers slapped the ball away from Raymond and Jordan Farmar took the ball on a fast break to increase the lead to 5. Flip Murray hit a long 3 quickly, but only 1 second remained on the clock and LA held on for a 99-97 win.

The end was a heartbreaker, but the rest game was a great showing of the progress the Bobcats have made. With no contributions from Diaw, Wallace out with an injury, and Tyson Chandler missing his 22nd consecutive game, Larry Brown’s “system” looked like it was fully functional against an elite team. Kobe Bryant only put in 5 points and was barely on the court during the 2nd half. So comparatively, this game was about the cavalry for each squad. Beyond having the best player in basketball on their roster, the Lakers are doing fairly well with Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. Charlotte’s supporting cast of Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton, and Flip Murray are the kind of guys that could maybe form an opening band for stadium headliners like the Lakers.

Final Notes:

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson became the winningest coach of all-time, ever in the history of the NBA, as we know it today.  More on that here.

Lamar Odom took control of the game at the end of the 3rd and showed his full range of skills, inside-and-out, with Kobe on the bench in the 4th

Coach Brown went for a no-tie, LA look on the sidelines. Gerald Wallace looks horrible in a suit. Tyson Chandler, on the other hand, is accustomed to dressing well courtside.

Flip Murray can hit some shots, but he’s a black hole on offense. Once he gets the ball, guys stop moving because they know they aren’t getting it back. His lazy defense made Stephen Graham’s stong coverage look even better.

Shannon Brown rose up on a fast-break dunk at some type of hyper-speed. He hops so quickly, it’s like he’s in fast forward. Gerald’s going to have to pull out something big to beat Brown in the dunk contest this year.

Jordan Farmar seems to suffer from Kendrick Perkins Syndrome : They think that they have something to do with the great teams that they’re playing on. When LA’s offense is clicking, Farmar will get an open look or an easy lay up. Like the Celtic’s Perkins, he acts as if he accomplished this all by himself. I’d like to see how amped up either of those guys would be playing for the Nets or the T-Wolves.

Bobcats Beat Warriors At Their Own Game

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Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats @ Warriors 1/29/10


Staying with the “Running Diary” theme recaps…

FIRST HALF

Lots of talk from the Warriors broadcast team about Stephen Jackson coming back to Oaktown.  Boos aplenty.  Wow!  The Bobcats have their very first heel!

Great moment midway through the first quarter which illustrates Larry Brown’s impatience with Rookies.  Derrick Brown checks in to give Diaw a breather and proceeds to fall asleep in transition defense.  LB yanks him after thirty seconds and inserts Stephen Graham for the rest of the quarter.  Talk about a short fuse.

Ronny Turiaf checks in later in the quarter and starts making plays immediately.  I wrote in my Power Forward Trade Column recently that Turiaf would be a great fit as a backup four in Charlotte and he’s proving me right again this evening with lots of energy on the offensive glass, a few nice put-backs and one crazy steal and almost finish on the fast break.  If the ‘Cats could get him for Henderson and Law straight up I say make the deal immediately.

Just caught the box score for the Philly/Lakers game.  Anybody realize that both Primoz Brezec AND Jason Kapono play for the Sixers?  Me neither, maybe because they both logged DNP-CDs tonight.  Somewhere Bernie Bickerstaff is crying.

My first look at Steph Curry as a pro.  I wasn’t sure how he was going to turn out but thus far I’m impressed.  He has some pass-first PG acumen; is an As-Advertised great long range shooter and is a little bigger than you’d think.  Will probably play just as long as his pops (16+ seasons) in the League and be at worst a Steve Kerr role player on a contender.

Starting the 2nd quarter now and we have a SPECIAL GUEST ANNOUNCER joining the Warriors’ broadcast crew.  “Oh my gawd King, it’s that sadistic bastard Paul Heyman!”  No, it’s Dell Curry!  DC4THREEE! chats about Steph’s success, the JAX trade, Monta Ellis’ dependence on his right hand, Steph’s mouthpiece fetish (possibly inherited from watching so many Crash games in CLT), the light, skin-tight kevlar body armor that so many players are wearing these days (including Gerald Wallace), etc, etc.
I’m actually starting to think that Dell could be a great ambassador nation-wide for Charlotte Pro Basketball.  Sort of an Obama/Brad Daugherty gene splice.  He’s no Mike Gminski yet but a strong upgrade from Adrian Branch/Henry Williams.

Who is that tall, bearded guy on the Bobcats bench wearing a suit?  Did Sean May lose a bunch of weight and go all Joakim Phoenix on us?  Oh, that’s the guy we traded our franchise center for, Tyson Chandler.  Tyson Chandler everybody!  Woo-hoo!!!  Sixteen games and counting!

Starters (especially JAX and CRASH) playing a ton of minutes in the first half.  D.J. comes in to to give Raymond a blow.  Augustin nails two straight threes and looks confident.  Then he loses that turnover to Run Ronny Turiaf who embarrasses him with the aforementioned steal and almost finish.  Still, D.J. with a respectable eleven points in the first half.

Bobcats up 65-59 at the break.

SECOND HALF

JAX and CRASH haven’t come out of the game yet and Boris has only been out a minute.  The announcers for GS are talking like this is a good thing.  I’m a little worried about all of this wear and tear.

RADMAN in the house!  Not sure if it’s a Bay Area inspired thing but Vlad has suddenly started looking like the lead singer from Loverboy.
Also, Warriors fans must be in secret agony every time they see Vlad get toasted by JAX.  Golden State really didn’t get enough for him in that trade.  Kind of like when the Bobcats play the Hornets and Emeka Okafor drops a double-double on Tyson Chandler’s replacement.

I’m a Boris Bee-Liever but Diaw has been hit or miss all season and I’m starting to think that he’s gonna be the player that the team moves if you believe Bill Simmons’ assertion that the ‘Cats are making another trade before the deadline.  Carlos Boozer for Diaw and change?  A Felton/Jackson/Wallace/Boozer/Chandler lineup is a tough matchup for anyone in East.  I’m warming to the idea.

Back to Raymond for a second, I feel like his beard is under-discussed.  Baron Davis started doing this and his game went to the next level a few years back.  Not to mention Magic in the 80s.  I’m calling on Ray to push it at least as far as QuestLove before the Playoffs.  Felton is playing so well these days (16pts on 6-10, 6asts tonight) that I’m a little worried that the Lakers are gonna sweep him up this offseason to replace Derek Fisher.  They’ve liked him since the ’05 draft and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ray running the point next year for Kobe and Phil.

Nazr Mohammed has played a total of 17 minutes and Gana Diop’s nearing a DNP-CD himself.  Larry Brown chooses to go small with JAX and CRASH alternating playing the four and Diaw taking Center.  Bobcats up by double digits in the Third.

WOW.  Andris Biedrins with a Turiaf-esque steal of a Felton pass and then a one-on-none fast break JAM.  Let’s talk about Biedrins’ hair for a second.  Is he purposefully trying to invite Dolph Lundgren comparisons?  He basically looks like any Eastern European tough guy involved in a Russian Arms Deal Gone Bad.  I’m gonna search later for photographs of Andris wearing a grey sportcoat and black undershirt.

Monta Ellis looking every bit as you’d expect.  Scoring at will.  Driving the lane and hitting jumpers from the outside.  Looks like a young Iverson.  Warriors hot all game shooting 56% from the field but can’t secure a rebound while the ‘Cats aren’t doing too bad themselves at 50%.

CARTIER MARTIN SIGHTING!  Yes, Cartier “That’s Really My First Name” Martin just checked into the game and put one up over JAX.  He then gets hyper and starts launching threes – all errant.  Thanks for the memories, Cartier.

Fourth Quarter and the Bobcats look like the better team.  They blow the game open and build a 20 point lead with just a little over six minutes left and are killing the W’s this half with a 20-9 rebounding advantage (CRASH lead the way with 13 to go along with an impossibly quiet 30pts).

JAX with a killer 3 (bringing his scoring total to 30), D.J. with another killer three and for some reason Larry Brown decides to leave his starters in with 6:30 to go with the ‘Cats well ahead and the Warriors trotting out Cartier and Anthony Tolliver (GS’s answer to Stephen Graham).

Warriors make a mini-rally but come up short and LB empties the bench with 2:20 to go in the game.  Gerald “The Sequel” Henderson comes in and looks as though he’s never even seen a basketball before, missing free throws, slipping on the floor, throwing the ball away.  Doesn’t matter.  Bobcats in control and take this game 121-110 to go 23-22 on the year while improving to 5-17 on the road.

AP recap here.  Box score here.

Enjoy the win Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

Magic Hit Overtime Overdrive

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: Magic @ Bobcats 1/23/10

Orlando marches into the Cable Box and puts an emphatic end to the ‘Cats nine game home winning streak with a 106-95 overtime victory.  AP recap here.  Box score here.

The Good

With their two stars struggling (more on that later), the Bobcats still managed to take the Eastern Conference Champs to OT due to the efforts of D.J. Augustin and Gana Diop.  D.J. brought out his ’08-’09 game tonight going 8-14 from the field with five threes finishing with 22 points – most of them CLUTCH as the Bobcats were making their 4th quarter run.  D.J.’s best game of the year without a doubt.

DIOP-IT-LIKE-IT’S-HOT defended Dwight Howard (10 points) so well in his 22 minutes of work, that Mark Cuban’s decision to offer Gana the full mid-level a couple of years ago now looks quasi-sane.  Diop’s stats don’t look like much (6pts, 4rbs, 2blks) but his presence was felt on defense and his ability to run the floor in transition kept the Magic honest.

The Bad

The Bobcats found themselves down by as much as sixteen points in the third quarter due to a barrage of three pointers by Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter and JJ Redick.  It wasn’t that the ‘Cats were playing bad defense, the Magic were just hitting a lot of ridiculous shots.  Lewis’ 6’10” frame and long wingspan makes his high-release three unguardable; Nelson was having a St. Joe’s flashback with a gimpy Raymond Felton playing tight; Carter dominated early and disappeared late (surprise); while JJ checked in,  got the “Christian Laetner Memorial Greeting” from the fans – then coldly nailed a three.

When the Magic are hitting their trifectas (14 total, 36% behind the arc) there’s not much a team can do other than try to match shots.  Which brings us to…

The Fugly

Eight of Twenty-Nine.  That’s what Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace shot combined.  Add in Boris Diaw’s 2-9 and Raymond’s 6-15 and you have the starters KILLING the team’s chances for victory by anchoring a 40% shooting performance.  Not to take anything away from the Magic (especially in OT when they took it to another level trapping D.J. and Ray on the perimeter and taking away the pick and roll) but JAX and CRASH just couldn’t get anything going.  If Jackson normally “makes love to pressure” then this was a game in need of CIALIS.  JAX launched ugly shot after shot and spent most of the game jack-jawing with the officials.

Same goes for Wallace – who didn’t help his All-Star campaign by registering a DUD while being held in check by defensive maestro Vince Carter (seriously, this actually happened).

The team’s focus seemed to be on the upcoming road trip for most of the game and this was exploited during the OT lay-down that saw Orlando scoring the first eleven points of the extra frame.

Bullets

  • 19,000+ at the TWC tonight!  NICE JOB BOBCATS FANS!  Maybe DR E’s recent crowd pimping really worked.
  • If I had any remaining insecurities about my uber-receding hairline, they are now fully eliminated after seeing HD close-ups of Vince Carter.  Thanks Vince.
  • Raymond didn’t have a great game but his gutsy performance coming off of the ankle sprain was appreciated.  If the team can ink him to a deal of around $6.5 – $7 million per, he’ll be a high value player in the League.
  • As well as Nazr has been playing recently, he still doesn’t punch in those easy 2-footers as consistently or emphatically as Tyson Chandler.  Chandler missed his 14th consecutive game and let’s hope that the team can get something out of him (either on the court or via trade) before the season is over.

Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASCHIN

Bobcats Destroy Heat For Ninth Straight Home Win

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Heat, 1/20/10

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The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Miami Heat 104-65 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box to improve to 21-19 and move into 5th place in the Eastern Conference.  AP recap here, box score here.  The win represents the largest margin of victory (39) and the least points allowed (65) in Bobcats history and caps off a perfect 6-0 home stand.  The Bobcats are 9-1 in 2010 and officially the hottest team in the NBA.

How weird is that to read?  It is extremely strange for me to type.  Not all 9 victories in the new year have been totally impressive (just Monday the Bobcats barely withstood a furious rally to eke by the Kings), but for the most part, the Cats deserve every bit of being called the hottest team in the NBA.  They are playing defense at a playoff, maybe championship level.  They have not just defeated some good teams (Spurs, Suns, Heat), they have destroyed them, broken their will.

Much like the win over the Suns last Saturday night, this one was essentially over after an amazing first quarter.  The Bobcats swarmed on defense and shot the lights out on offense for a 38-17 lead after 12 minutes (Jackson had 15, Nazr 10 of those 38).  The Cats shot 14-18 (82%) to set a franchise record for FG% in a quarter.   Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, sensing that his team was in danger of being totally overwhelmed, called 3 timeouts in the opening frame.  Alas, it did no good.  He could neither break the Bobcats’ momentum, nor get his own squad going.

The rest of the game was spent calmly watching out for a Heat run (ala the Kings game on Monday) that never came, then hoping that the starters would be able to get some rest down the stretch.  Indeed they were able to.  Stephen Jackson finished with 24 points (7-10 FG, 10-12 FT) in 33 minutes; Raymond Felton had 14 points (6-8 FG) and 5 assists in 27 minutes; Nazr Mohammed had 16 points (6-9 FG) and 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes.

You might look at Gerald Wallace’s line and wonder what all the fuss about his supposedly sprained ankle was for.  Wallace’s availability was the subject of several Bonnell blog posts in the past couple days and a couple of Tweets from me today, yet he went for 20 points (5-11 FG, 8-8 FT), 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in 36 minutes.  However, I will submit that Gerald was actually taking it a bit easy on the bum ankle tonight, especially on offense.  Seriously, he settled for several jump shots and was rather passive on that end of the court.  And still ended up with 20 points.  All-Star.

Bullets

  • No one showed up for the Heat.  Superstar Dwyane Wade was held to 16 points on 6-16 FG by Stephen Jackson.  He was further dismayed when he had to share the court with Joel Anthony and Dorell Wright at times.
  • BobcatsBreak has postgame video on lock.
  • Raymond Felton continues to play amazing defense.  Defense in the NBA is undeniably a team thing, but still, Raymond deserves particular praise.
  • Gana Diop had an intersting game: 17 minutes, 7 rebounds, a steal, a huge block and 6 fouls for the DQ.  And 0 points.
  • If you’re feeling scroogey and looking for any negative, look no further than Acie Law.  He played the last 8 minutes of junk time and was dreadful.  I don’t see any way he’s in the league next year.
  • Next game is Friday night in Atlanta, 7:30 PM start.  Good chance to measure ourselves against a team ahead of us in the standings.
  • Then the Cats are back home on Saturday night to face Superman and the Magicians (7PM start).  I am expecting the biggest crowd of the year — let’s sell this one out, folks.  We’ve got the hottest team in the NBA, we’re facing an elite opponent, and it’s the last home game before a Western Conference road trip — no excuse not to make it out to the game.

-Dr. E