Bobcats Season 10 – Week 4 Review

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The Cats finish the week 1-3, a disappointing stretch which included:

  • A flat and unfocused loss at home to the surprising Suns, 91-98.
  • A twenty point beat-down of the Eastern Conference doormat Bucks in Milwaukee, 96-72.
  • Another flat and unfocused loss at home to the lowly Celtics, 86-96.
  • Three good quarters and a horrific fourth in a blowout loss at home to Indiana, 74-99.

The LEASTERN CONFERENCE

We’re approaching the quarter season mark and it is already quite apparent that the Eastern Conference stinks somethin’ fierce. Incoming commish Adam Silver may crave parity but right now he has the AL East. Indiana and Miami might both get to sixty five wins playing amongst this ragtag group. Atlanta, currently the Conference’s third seed, is 8-8 and sports a negative point differential. Tied with them is Chicago, who just lost Derrick Rose for the season (again).
Washington, Detroit and Charlotte have had a few nice moments over the past month but they aren’t going to keep either the Pacers or Heat up at night. As for the rest of the lot…ugh. Fair warning: We’re in for a long stretch bad basketball, folks.
All this terrible play in the East has me scratching my head, trying to decipher how good the Bobcats actually are. I mean, has Charlotte actually improved or did the rest of the conference just lower themselves the Bobcats’ level?

Kemba Walker: The Scoring Guard Whose Shots Don’t Fall

Sure, he’s been shooting a little better over the past week (26-62, FG50% over 4 games) but Kemba seriously needs to get consistent with his shot or his future may not be as bright as we once hoped. Wanna hear something frightening? Kemba is shooting 37% from the field this season. He shot 36% his rookie season. We could be looking at a regression to the mean. I was hoping to see Kemba blossom into top tier NBA point with a low block presence like Al Jefferson to run the offense through but the opposite has happened. Walker’s averaging 1.5 less assists per game on the year, consistently has trouble feeding the post and is laying a ton of bricks in the process. I never bought in to the narrative that Kemba would be a third guard on a good team but if he can’t get that shot to fall regularly, he may not be the third guard on a bad team.

Rich Cho Must Love The Home Depot…

…because he sure love projects (ZING!).

In the midst of watching the Pacers loss, I realized that the team is going to need a lot more than what Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can currently give if they want to be relevant. MKG had trouble defending Paul George all night and wasn’t exactly matching George’s output on the offensive side either. There he goes again turning the ball over in transition, losing his dribble for unknown reasons and/or committing odd turnovers. I find myself having Biyombo Season Two flashbacks with MKG and that’s not a good thing. Gilchrist will likely be able to stay in the league for a while as a lock-down defender (ala Luc Richard Mbah a Moute or Tony Allen) but I’m kind of done expecting much else on a nightly basis.
Biyombo and MKG are case studies in why The Jalen Rose Rule of Drafting (a prospect must be able to: shoot, pass, dribble) should never be broken. How many player development minutes, millions of dollars and highly valuable draft picks must a team spend on guys who might top out as “The Next Samuel Dalembert” or “The Next Gerald Wallace”? The NFL already has this figured out: you take projects in the late rounds, sure things in the early ones.
Again, I think Cho has done a very nice job in aggregate – especially in free agency and with the cap – but drafting woes have handcuffed this franchise from the beginning. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue that way.

-ASChin
@BaselineBuzz

 

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.

Heat Out-Hustle Bobcats in Ugly Loss

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Charlotte Bobcats@Heat 3/20/10

Another day, another winnable game lost — this time a wasted opportunity against a fellow Eastern Conference Playoff contender.  The Miami Heat do nothing special in this one except for playing a little less worse than the Bobcats and win the game 77-71, leapfrogging Charlotte in the standings to take over sixth place by a half game.

AP recap here | Boxscore here

It’s the Little Things That Count

Dwayne Wade hardly dominated from a scoring perspective (6-18 from the field) but his fingerprints were all over the Heat’s win.  Wade registered 5 blocks including two MIND BLOWING rejections (one in waning seconds of the first half on Tyson Chandler and the other on Tyrus Thomas in the open court midway through the fourth quarter) and nine, count ‘em nine assists to go along with five boards and fourteen points.  The very definition of a leader, DWADE did whatever he could to put the Heat in a position to win.

Fugly Stats

Bobcats shot 29.2% from the field and commit 5 TOs.  You just can’t win a game like this folks.  The final margin of victory would’ve been much greater for Miami had they not spotted the ‘Cats with an extra fourteen free throw attempts (20 compared to 34).  Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace take most of the blame here by going for a combined 8-33 from the field.  It wasn’t like the Heat were playing suffocating full court defense, the ‘Cats just weren’t hitting anything.  Fatigue could be an excuse as Charlotte just came off of Friday night’s OT loss at Atlanta but with the stakes this high this close to Playoff time, it’s just not an acceptable excuse.  The ‘Cats just weren’t moving the ball enough and were settling for too many one and done long jumpers.

Amazingly, as bad as the Bobcats played against the Heat they had the game tied 61 with just 8:59 to go in the 4th.  Miami was just closing out quarters strong and the 4th was no different — a 10-0 run put this baby to sleep.

Bullets

  • Some Positive News: Tyson Chandler looked decent for once.  He played 33 minutes and grabbed eleven boards and swatted three shots.  He ran the floor well and looked engaged mentally.  As down as I am on Chandler, having him play well could only do good things for the Bobcats both short-term (teaming with Nazr Mohammed as a two-headed center platoon) and long-term (elevating his trade-bait status going into the offseason).
  • Seeing that I’m also down on D.J. Augustin, I should at least offer some constructive criticism: D.J. needs to work on a stop & pop jumper from about 15 feet and a quick & crafty floater from the paint.  As of right now, the only outcome to Augustin’s dribbling into the lane is a blocked shot or a turnover.  At least with a floater and a Nash-like stop & pop he could get his shot off before anyone has a chance of swatting it away.
  • Larry Hughes made his debut at 10:30 in the 2nd and promptly had his shot swatted by Dorrell Wright.  Yes, there were lots of blocked shots in this game by Miami (13 to be exact).
  • Sparse crowd in Miami.  Looked about as bad as the Pacers crowd last week in Indy.
  • Right before the half the Heat broadcast team put together a little video package featuring the Greatest Centers in the Heat’s 22 year history.  Sad.  The Hornets could be doing something similar back in the CLT.  The Carolinas are all about tradition and it would have been great to walk into the Cable Box and see LJ, DC, Muggsy, Glen Rice and Zo’s jerseys’ hanging from the rafters.
  • Quentin Richardson Sighting!  The journeyman gunner dropped six threes in the first half, breaking a Heat team record.

At 35-34, the Bobcats are only a half game over .500 and just a half game up on Toronto for 7th place in the conference.  Fortunately the ‘Cats have the lowly Wizards twice this week sandwiching a home date against the T’Wolves.  If they don’t go 3-0 heading into the 29th home game against Toronto, then something is very, very wrong with this team.

Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Charlotte Defends Home Court Against Miami

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Bobcats defeat the Heat 83-78 in Charlotte

AP Recap | Box Score

With the hopes of the Bobcats’ first Playoff berth swinging just close enough to reach, the home team operated like a defensive machine to move ahead in the Eastern Conference standings. Time Warner Cable Arena saw a great turnout for a Tuesday night match up against two clubs positioning for the last (8th) spot for the post-season.

For much of the game, the crowd had little to cheer about. Charlotte allowed Miami to start hot with 30pts in the first quarter, and trailed by 9pts at the half. It was a lopsided start with Miami’s strong start and the Cats’ offensive struggles – poor free throw shooting, missed layups, and almost no perimeter scoring. Anyone watching had to question if the Bobcats had what it took to stand up for themselves and become the aggressors in a big game like this.

We Must Protect This House

For the Cats fanatics that check out the Open Practices or watch the inside videos on the Bobcats.com site, it’s common to see both Larry Brown and his consultant/assistant coach brother Herb Brown decked out in black Under Armour apparel. While the apparel line is marketed to the masses in chain stores, it’s hard to think that the physique of these aging men were what the product design team had intended for use. Well, Larry and Herb must have kept their Under Armour® compression shirts on under their suits last night. The half time talk to their big men probably started with Larry Brown ripping off his shirt and tie and fuming while wearing only an ultra tight, synthetic black “Tech Tee” with some rhythm stomping by Phil Ford. We can only imagine how Brown stepped up on a chair to look Tyrus Thomas in the face and declare “We Must Protect This House!

The Bobcats opened the third period with a brief run that was immediately countered by Miami. Throughout the game, Dwayne Wade had his way in the lane with highlight reel style drives from right-to-left. He was hitting inside and out, with solid help from teammates Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley (B Easy for those that believe he deserves any kind of pro nickname). Still, the Bobcats pushed forward in the third to enter the final period only trailing by 4 pts (Miami led 66– 62).

The Stand

To push forward and close on Miami’s lead, Charlotte saw the return of the “Great DJ.” On key possessions to keep the Bobcats in the game, Augustin came up huge. The revived point guard was fouled on a successful three-pointer and hit the free throw for a complete 4 point play. He followed up with two consecutive, aggressive drives, drawing fouls against Miami. DJ hit all four of the free throws and pulled Charlotte within one point of the Heat’s lead. It seemed inevitable that the momentum would swing in favor of the home Bobcats at that point.

Larry Brown used a closing line up of Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Boris Diaw, and Tyrus Thomas. On paper, this is a group built to run. Yet, the Bobcats showed that this was Larry Brown’s dream of a defensive line squad – long, quick, and versatile athletes. Defense took center stage, as the two guys that the Bobcats count on for points (Wallace & Jackson) couldn’t score in the fourth. In the closing minutes, Raymond Felton hit a huge three-pointer to give the Cats their first lead and Miami challenged until Tyrus Thomas hit a beautiful baseline jumper to put the team ahead for good.

Wade’s Reaction

After the game, Dwayne Wade was reported to be very angry as a superstar competitor should be after such a tough loss. Still, he may have misplaced the blame for Miami’s loss when he told reporters “The ball didn’t go in the basket the same… I ain’t giving Charlotte no credit if that’s what you’re looking for.”

Wrap-Up Notes:

Where Was Wallace?
It was disappointing to see so little offense from Gerald Wallace for such a big game. His two missed dunks (from Felton lobs) made him look tired, but his stat line deserves a closer look. Only 8 Points – Really? Oh, but 17 Rebounds – Whoa!

Diaw Does Work
The average fan probably doesn’t get why Diaw is always on the court. His passing and awareness aren’t as impressive as throw-down slams or mega-blocks. Still, he played the first three quarters of Tuesday’s game like he wasn’t really fit for the NBA. Then in crunch time, he grabbed big rebounds, blocked a shot, found the open shooter, and drew fouls against the Heat. He really made up for his poor start.

O’Neal of Old
Jermaine O’Neal was hitting shots like it was 2005. It didn’t matter if Tyrus or Tyson had leaped at him with lanky arms in the air. Jermaine was nailing those baseline jumpers. The Bobcats did a good job of keeping him out of the paint in the second half, but he put an efficient offensive performance together with 19 pts.

Beasley vs Thomas

Michael Beasley had a better stat line than Tyrus Thomas, but Charlotte’s young forward had such a bigger impact on the outcome of the game. It’s odd to say, but it looks like Beasley, in his second year, would be the more polished of the two. Tyrus Thomas probably has more “upside” if coached appropriately.

Links:

NBA.com Recap

Peninsula is Mighter (Heat Blog)

Charlotte Observer

Bobcats Salvage Road Trip In Memphis

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Grizzlies, 2/26/10

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 93-89 on Friday night to wrap up their 4-game road trip at 1-3.  AP recap here, box score here.

This game was not televised locally, and the news that Michael Jordan will become the controlling owner of the team is overshadowing, so our comments on the game will be pithy.

Needless to say, after dropping the first three games of this road trip, 7 of the last 10 overall and falling out of the eighth spot in the East, this was nearly a must-win.  On top of all that, we have the Mavs, Celtics and Lakers this coming week.

As of Saturday, the Cats are still on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs, a half game back of 8th place Miami.  Both the Bulls (currently 6th) and Bucks (currently 7th) are have won 8 of their last 10 to push the Cats back out.  Basically, every game is huge the rest of the way, and the Cats should be happy to have a relatively benign and home-heavy schedule down the stretch.

The Cats will take the weekend off to rest up, while continuing to work Tyrus Thomas and Theo Ratliff in the mix.  Hopefully, we can get Nazr back to bolster the frontline.  Next game is Monday night, 7 PM ET, hosting Dirk and the Mavs at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Destroy Heat For Ninth Straight Home Win

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Heat, 1/20/10

???

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

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Heat 4/3/09

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1.  The Bobcats fall to the Heat on Friday night at the Cable Box, 97-92.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine GameFlow here.  The Bobcats fall to 34-42, 2 games back from 8th place Chicago, 2.5 games back from 7th place Detroit.

2.  As the sloshed, 45-year-old Dwyane Wade fanboy one section over chanted all night, “it’s a slow death” being a Bobcats fan right now.  With every loss in the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the schedule and said, “well, we can still go X-and-X from here out and make it.  And we’re still there: if we run the table and win all six remaining games, we probably still have a shot at the playoffs.  That would include wins at Detroit and Chicago (our direct competitors for the last spot) and would get us to 40 wins.

Let’s face reality, though — it ain’t gonna happen.  But until the day when we’re mathematically eliminated, it’s going to continue to be a slow death.

3.  The crowd was announced as a sellout again, but again there were plenty of empty seats.  Still a great crowd, though.  And we did get to experience the aforementioned Green Night.  Everyone got a free Sprite/Bobcats t-shirt in a colorway that is best described as: faded puke lime green.  And early-comers/season-ticket holders got reusable Harris-Teeter grocery bags.

Of course the big draw was the green jerseys — not bad, actually.  I’m far from a uni-traditionalist, so I actually like alternate/special jerseys in most cases.  But pardon me for asking: how is it “green” to produce a whole new batch of jerseys and thousands of giveaway t-shirts at the end of the season?  I have to assume the jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting some green charity, right?

4.  On to the actual game.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Cats come out of the gates strong, defending well, keeping the opponent’s star in check.  They move the ball well and shoot a high percentage; only to falter, go cold and move away from what was working in the first place later on.  The game is tight throughout the second half; but down the stretch, when the good teams in the league turn everything up a notch and stars rise to the occasion, the Bobcats wither, unable to score when it counts.

I feel like I’ve written that numerous times this year, and thought it countless times over the past five seasons.  And it’s OK, it’s to be expected.  The Bobcats haven’t done much to get respect from the officials, so we’re never going to get the benefit of the doubt on close calls.  We’ll rarely shoot more free throws than the opponents in an important game.  And we don’t have anything close to a superstar who would be a force on the offensive end — someone the opponents have to double-team, someone who can get to the rim, draw a foul, create his own shot and make it reliably.

5.  So while I know that the Bobcats don’t have that star player who can take the game in his hands down the stretch, I’m going to keep beating the drum that there has to be a better option than Raymond Felton.  With 30 seconds left, down three, everyone standing, the Cats have the ball.  Of course, it’s in Raymond’s hands.  No one else appears to be doing much to get open or run a play — if they were, the Heat foiled it pretty easily.  Felton drives, overpenetrates, and has to try a difficult layup.  It misses badly.  Of course, there is contact, and of course, everyone cries for a foul.  No such call is made.  Heat rebound, game pretty much over.

Felton is like the anti-Dwayne Wade in this respect.  Something about the symphony of bodies flying around near the basket when Felton drives looks different enough to the refs that they swallow their whistle instead of blowing it.  When penetrating, he seems to do just a bit too much to avoid the contact.  So after doing just a bit too much, he’s left with an impossible, contorted layup attempt.

In part, it’s because Felton’s not as an explosive leaper as Wade, and maybe isn’t quite as strong either.  But most of all, it’s just a knack that Wade has that Felton doesn’t.  There’s something innate that allows Wade to accept (or initiate) just the right amount of contact in just the right way, while still allowing himself enough control to still get a reasonable shot attempt up.

6.  To beat a dead horse, Wade drew a foul and hit both free throws on the other end to pump the lead to 94-89 with 19 seconds left.  Diaw hit a quick three on the other end to close the gap to two again with 16 seconds left.  Next possesion, Wade draws another foul.  This time, he only hits one of two free throws to leave the door open a sliver: 95-92 Heat with 12 seconds left, Bobcats ball.

Needing a three, Larry Brown inexplicably leaves this lineup on the floor: DJ, Raymond, Wallace, Diaw and Okafor.  Now Raja Bell was out after straining his calf earlier in the game, but is there any reason not to have Radmanovic or even Cartier Martin out there?  When you have to shoot a three, don’t you want as many shooters out there as possible?  I can understand Okafor being there — maybe he gets to bat a rebound out for another attempt at a three; but seriously, why is Gerald out there?  Or Felton, for that matter?  Those two are shooting 29% and 28%, respectively, on threes this year.

Anyways, the ball ends up in Raymond’s hands (it’s almost as if opponents want him to be the shooter in these situations, huh?  Ya don’t think?…. Nah…) and he has to fire up the three.  It’s contested well, but still a decent look.  Brick, game over.

7.  For the Heat, D-Wade was great — kind of on a consistent, slow burn all night until the fourth quarter, when he really turned it on.  Raja Bell checked him in the first half, but went out just minutes into the third quarter with a calf strain.  That left Cartier Martin to guard Wade for the entire third quarter.  Cartier did a decent job, holding Wade to just five points in that stretch.  But he was getting a lot of help from teammates, as Wade’s 5 assists during the third quarter would attest to.  Raymond also did a decent job with the impossible task of guarding Wade in the fourth quarter — Wade’s simply too good.

Michael Beasley was pretty impressive in 27 minutes, going 7-9 for 14 smooth points with 4 rebounds.  If he ever gets a motor and commits to playing defense, the sky’s the limit.  If not, hello Derrick Coleman 2.0.

Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal both went out with turned ankles at different points in the second half — both returned eventually.  Udonis Haslem busted his shooting hand on the backboard or rim playing defense and needed stitches.  Reports are he’ll probably shut it down for the rest of the season to let the gash heal.

8.  For the Cats, Gerald Wallace had a nice game: 21 points (8-12 FG, 4-4 FT), 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.  One of those blocks was on a Dwayne Wade dunk attempt — just amazing, and had the Cats won the game I’d probably write a whole paragraph on it.  But check the GameFlow and it will show that Wallace accumulated all of those stats in the first three quarters.  Despite playing all 12 minutes of the fourth, he registered only 3 fouls and 2 turnovers in the quarter.  Not a single point, rebound, assist or block.  This happens far too often — we have to find some way to keep Gerald involved in the fourth quarter.

Bell is possibly done for the year with a bad calf strain.  He walked off gingerly with assistance from the Human Crutch, Sean May; postgame, Larry Brown said that Raja said he felt it pop, which usually means a pretty significant muscle tear.

Bad game for Radmanovic: I asked earlier why he wasn’t out there to close the game when we needed a three, and the best answer is that he had performed miserably thus far in the game.  0-6 in 17 minutes, 0-2 from three.

9.  Six games left, need ‘em all:

Sun, Apr 5    @ Detroit    6:00 PM
Tue, Apr 7    Philadelphia    7:00 PM
Fri, Apr 10    @ Oklahoma City    8:00 PM
Sat, Apr 11    @ Chicago    8:30 PM
Mon, Apr 13    @ New Jersey    7:30 PM
Wed, Apr 15    @ Orlando    8:00 PM

Go Cats!

-E