Bobcats Nip Timberwolves For First Home Victory

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Stephen Jackson via AP/Chuck Burton

It wasn’t pretty, but the Bobcats finally notched their first home victory on Monday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-110.  The Cats were in control with an 8 point lead late in the third quarter before stagnating and falling behind by as many as 9 halfway through the fourth.

But the Cats finished the game on an 11-3 run to rally for the win.  The deciding stretch started with just under two minutes left with clutch threes from Stephen Jackson and DJ Augustin, continued with ratcheted-up defensive intensity and huge steals by Jack and Tyrus Thomas, and ended with some Gerald Wallace free throws.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • The quick rundown above doesn’t quite give that wild finish quite enough justice.  It was borderline frenetic; the Bobcats looked right at home, while the young Timberwolves looked seriously rattled.  And after Gerald Wallace committed a silly foul, Wes Johnson had a chance to tie the game with two free throws with 3 seconds left.  He missed both.
  • Prior to the last couple of minutes, the Bobcats hadn’t played much defense, which is a big change compared to how they played at home last year.  Michael Beasley almost singlehandedly kept the T-Wolves in the game with 28 points.
  • Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson led the way for the Cats with 26 points each.  Gerald lived at the free throw line (17-19 FT, a team record for made free throws), while Jack did his damage from behind the three point line (5-6 3PT).
  • DJ Augustin had a really nice game with 9 points and 11 assists/1 turnover.  He had a huge breakaway layup after Jack’s steal during the game-winning rally that should have been an and-1.
  • Tyrus Thomas had 20 points/10 rebounds off the bench, but was the latest Bobcat to catch the turnover bug with 7!
  • You know how they film various players and coaches reading the “Fan Code of Conduct” disclaimer, then edit it altogether and show it on the video board?  Guess whose clip they use for the part about “not disrupting the game or using foul language”?  Yep, Stephen Jackson.  Touche, Bobcats video intern, touche.  In related news, Jack picked up another tech tonight.

-Dr. E

Beasley to Bobcats? Let’s Hope So

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Four Way Trade Supposedly in the Works

Michael Beasley ©NBA 2010

UPDATED:

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

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

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

Post will be updated as the story develops.

UPDATE: 11:57pm

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

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

-ASChin

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

A few (belated) thoughts on the Bulls lottery win…

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There were only a couple of teams who truly “deserved” to win the lottery this year. Minnesota comes to mind: they weren’t going anywhere with Garnett, but were able to get a nice piece (Jefferson) back when trading him away. They have had some bad luck with injuries to their young guards in the past couple of years (McCants, Foye), and as a result were honestly miserable again this year.

Most of the other teams found themselves in lottery hell due to their own devices, thus hardly warranting any good karma. Miami turned in a superlative tank job (Stephane Lasme, Kasib Powell, Earl Barron, etc.). Memphis gave away Pau Gasol and got virtually nothing in return. The destruction of both the Knicks and Sonics from within has been well-documented.

You can add the Bulls to that list as well. Over the past 7 years, the Bulls traded both Elton Brand and Tyson Chandler away, only to watch both become stars on different teams. They’ve repeatedly failed in their quests to add impact players to the roster (see Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant). They signed Ben Wallace to a cap-strapping free agent deal, only to watch his skills and value go down the tubes. This season, the team sagged under playoff expectations, culminating in the firing of coach Scott Skiles and the trade that jettisoned Wallace and Joe Smith in favor of Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes. To top it all off a few weeks ago, the Bulls dragged their feet while recruiting Mike D’Antoni to fill their coaching vacancy, then whined when the Knicks swept him off his feet with an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Again, no way that recent history warrants good karma.

Karma or not, that the Bulls won the lottery is certainly a boon to NBA columnists and bloggers everywhere. The Bulls are one of the handful of teams that could go either way between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley with the #1 pick, so let the opinions and speculation fly!

Beasley instantly fills a need that the Bulls have had for years: an offensive presence down low. They would be able to plug him into the starting lineup with Hinrich, Hughes, Deng and Noah, with Duhon, Gordon, Nocioni, Gooden and Thomas coming off the bench. Not a bad rotation, huh? Case closed?

Not so fast.

I am of the opinion that Rose is the better pick for the Bulls. Upgrading at the point guard position is probably the quickest and most effective way to improve your team. Kirk Hinrich took a step (or two) back last year, when he should have been elevating both his and his teammates games to the next level.

The Bulls have plenty of talent on their roster; it would seem that they just need a unifying force that can make everyone else better. With Rose at point, I see Deng finally fulfilling his potential, and Tyrus Thomas finally beginning to.

Look, neither points the caliber of Rose nor forwards like Beasley are exactly falling out of the sky — but in the big picture, points like Rose come along less frequently and are more valuable. I know who I’d be rooting for if I were a Bulls fan.

-E

Bobcats Baseline 2008 Draft Preview Part Four: Pick #8 or #9

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Welcome to Part Four of a five-part look at the 2008 NBA Draft from the perspective of the Charlotte Bobcats. Part One was a basic look at the Bobcats’ needs this offseason. Part Two took a detailed look at the draft lottery process which determines where the team will pick. Part Three examined the Bobcats’ options if they should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks, while Part Four is a look at the team’s potential choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth (or ninth) pick. Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.

Now that it’s the eve of the lottery and we’ve fantasized about moving up into one of the top three picks in the upcoming draft, let’s take a look at the more likely scenario: the Bobcats picking at #8 or #9. As I established in Part Two, there is a 72.5% chance the Bobcats will end up picking at #8 and a 16.8% chance for #9 — combined that’s almost a 90% chance we will be picking at #8 or #9. Continue reading

Bobcats Baseline 2008 Draft Preview Part Three: Picks 1-3

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lj

Welcome to Part Three of a five-part look at the 2008 NBA Draft from the perspective of the Charlotte Bobcats. Part One was a basic look at the Bobcats’ needs this offseason. Part Two took a detailed look at the draft lottery process which determines where the team will pick. In Part Three we will examine the Bobcats’ options if they should luck out in the lottery and move up into one of the top three picks. Part Four will be a look at the team’s possible choices if they stay in their spot with the eighth (or ninth) pick, while Part Five will consider the Bobcats’ second round pick.

We’ve established that the chances of moving up into one of the top three picks in this year’s draft are slim (2.8% chance for the #1 pick; 3.3% chance for #2; 3.9% chance for #3) but we’re an optimistic sort here at Bobcats Baseline. Let’s consider the choices the Bobcats would have in each of these situations. Continue reading