Bobcats Routed By Celtics

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"Microcosm" by Bob Leverone/AP

The Bobcats reached a new low in their 93-62 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics Saturday night at the Cable Box.  Quite literally the 63 points represents the Cats lowest output this season, and overall it’s hard to imagine things getting much worse than this.

AP Recap |  Box Score

You knew it was going to be a rough night offensively for the Cats, going up against Boston’s D.  Early on, though, it appeared as if the Celtics might have an equally rough night.  Both teams struggled to get and make shots as the Celtics limped to a 20-16 lead after the first quarter.

However, the Celtics were eventually able to cobble together some buckets from Kevin Garnett and their bench into a respectable evening.  But the Bobcats regressed further and further; inasmuch as its possible to regress from a 16 point opening quarter.  Thus, the Celtics ‘respectable evening’ turned into a complete demolition of the Bobcats.

For the game, the Cats shot 33.8% (including 1-11 3PT), were outrebounded 48-38, gave up 21 turnovers, and had 10 of their shots blocked.  They continued to struggle from the free throw line to boot, hitting only 13-23.

It’s one thing to shoot poorly and commit more turnovers than usual against one of the best defenses in the league; but the other stuff (being badly outrebounded, having shots blocked and missing free throws) is indicative of the deeper issues that are engulfing this team.

Rick Bonnell wondered if the Friday night loss to the Pacers was the “beginning of the end” for Larry Brown in Charlotte.  After tonight, you have to wonder if we’re closer to the end, period.

The body language is bad team-wide.  No one has any confidence in their offensive game.  The effort on the defensive end is not there.  The two leaders, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, are not leading.  Essentially, the Bobcats appear to have checked out on Larry Brown and each other.

Meanwhile, the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors have picked up again, and again the Bobcats are rumored to be on the periphery of the discussions.  ESPN’s Chris Broussard’s source describes Michael Jordan’s attempt to get Carmelo as an effort “to save the Bobcats’ season.”

In a similar vein, it’s been reported that in the wake of this blowout, Michael Jordan addressed the team in the locker room after the game.

The shakeup is coming soon, folks.

Observations

  • The Bobcats MVP for the night has to be Tyrus Thomas, who sat out the game with a pulled quad muscle, but looked surprisingly dapper in a two-tone grey suit with tie.  I say surprisingly because I would have guessed that Tyrus would be more inclined to go with the Sean May benchwear look (baggy jeans, baggy untucked shirt, oversized jacket).  But no, Tyrus went all GQ.
  • On a serious note, Nazr Mohammed probably had the best game of any Bobcat (14 points on 7-11 shooting, 5 rebounds).  The Celtics were down to their fourth string center, rookie Semih Erden, and Nazr took him to school a bit in the first half.  However, in a curious move, Larry Brown sat Nazr in favor of Kwame Brown for much the second half because of Nazr’s three fouls.  So Nazr, the most effective Bobcat tonight, ended the game with only 17 minutes.  What are you saving him for?
  • It pains me to have to write this, but Gerald Wallace looks awful.  2-15 FG tonight — all bricks, charges and getting his shots blocked.  If Gerald was more diabolical, I’d wonder if he was trying to force a trade or get his coach fired.  He’s not that way (at least I don’t think so) so I have to think simply that he’s particularly affected by the funk that the whole team is in.
  • DJ was brutal tonight: 0-8 FG with 4 turnovers.
  • Next game is Tuesday; the Raptors will be in town for a 7PM start.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin, and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter


Bobcats Squeak By Formerly Streaking Nuggets

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Gerald Wallace's textbook jumper (via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Charlotte Bobcats cooled off the streaking Denver Nuggets 100-98 on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  The Nuggets came in winners of seven in a row and trying to get head coach George Carl his 1000th NBA win, but ran into a Bobcats team desperate to right the ship after suffering an ugly loss over the weekend.

And so the desperate home team did just enough to win.  There were some nice signs, which I’ll note below.  But as nice as it is to notch a victory over a good opponent and temporarily quiet the negative buzz that had been growing around the team, there are still glaring problems.

The Bobcats have been very shaky late in games this year.  Tonight they led by 8 with 90 seconds left, but let the Nuggets right back in it with sloppy play that continued right down to the buzzer, allowing Chauncey Billups a chance at a tying jumper at the buzzer.  The way it was going, I half-expected Chauncey to stop at the three-point line and drain a game-winner.

Additionally, turnovers continue to haunt the Bobcats — they had 18 of them, leading to 28 Denver points.  The defense, while adequate tonight, is still several notches below the level it was at last year.  Nazr Mohammed is bringing very little to the table.  Tyrus Thomas still hasn’t quite taken that step that we were all hoping he would this year.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • For one half, it was like we had the old Gerald Wallace back.  Crash had 17 at halftime, including two alley-opp jams.  But in the second half Gerald was conspicuously quiet, adding only another three points.  He also missed six free throws.
  • Despite a sore calf, Stephen Jackson led the way with a very solid 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.  Jack was making love to his jumper tonight with 11 3-point attempts — and only tw0 free throw attempts — but he hit five of those 3-pointers, so we’ll let it slide.
  • Wallace, Jackson, and Boris Diaw shared the task of defending Melo tonight and acquitted themselves pretty well.  Melo was held to 22 points on 21 shots and had 4 turnovers — a pretty pedestrian line for him.  Then again you have to wonder if that kind of line will become more typical for Melo as he plays out the string this year with a team he has no intention of being with next year.
  • Tyrus Thomas was very effective in limited minutes tonight: 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-4 FT) with 4 rebounds in just 15 minutes.  Ty would have almost certainly been out there for several more minutes to close out the game, but left with “left quad tightness” and didn’t return.
  • I understand that Larry Brown is always searching for the next George Lynch, but I’ll be glad when the Dom McGuire Project is over.  Since McGuire has been available over the past few weeks, he’s been averaging about 15 minutes a game.  Problem is, he hasn’t produced much.  Bigger problem is, those 15 minutes are Derrick Brown’s minutes.  I have no problem with McGuire getting some burn now — LB needs to get comfortable with what he can and can’t do out there — but Derrick Brown is younger and has a higher ceiling.  He’s the one that needs the burn.
  • Had to chuckle when I saw this blog post from Bonnell about Larry Brown gushing that Monday’s practice was the best in months.  The first commenter did the honors: “Practice?  We talkin bout practice!?”  Never gets old.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Show Signs Of Life, Defeat Rockets

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The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Houston Rockets 99-89 on Friday night at the Cable Box behind a strong second half and double-doubles from Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace.  The Cats started out sluggish (again) and were down by as much as 11 in the second quarter.

But the Bobcats starting five (Nazr Mohammed edition) took control in the third quarter and never looked back; they outscored the Rockets 54-37 in the second half.  Now I’ll have to qualify this by noting that the Rockets were without Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming (and weren’t very good with them, anyways), but the way the Bobcats played in the second half was the closest to how they played last year during their playoff push that I’ve seen yet this year.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • The Rockets were seriously underpowered.  What happened to Kevin Martin?  16 quiet points; though apparently he is averaging 23 ppg this year.  Just didn’t see it tonight.
  • Gerald had another tough shooting night (6-21 FG) but kept at it and ended up leading the Cats with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.  He had another spectacular block of a Chase Budinger breakaway jam that was wrongly called a foul.
  • Boris Diaw stole the show offensively in the second half, ending with 20 points (9-14 FG) on a mix of long and mid-range jumpers, hooks and scoops.  He even had a strong drive to the bucket that ended in a near-dunk.  I see in the play-by-play that it’s being credited as a dunk, and that’s very kind of the home scorekeeper.  Boris also added 10 rebounds.
  • Stephen Jackson (16 points), Nazr Mohammed (15 points on 6-9 FG, 7 rebounds), and DJ Augustin (11 assists/1 turnover) all had nice games.
  • Off the bench, Ty Thomas was quiet, but Shaun Livingston had one of his better games as a Bobcat, with 10 points on 4-7 FG.
  • So this is my third year being a season-ticket-holder, and I’ve successfully avoided being shown on the scoreboard bigscreen.  But tonight, I attended the game with Cardboard Gerald, and my streak was ended during the first possible break in the first quarter.  Such is the power of Cardboard Gerald.
  • One of the LadyCats’ hair extensions fell out while she was dancing.  I can cross that one off my Bucket List now.
  • The Bobcats are headed to Milwaukee for the second night of another back-to-back — 9PM ET start Saturday night.

-Dr. E

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

Turnovers, Pistons Conspire To Vanquish Bobcats

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One of the 22 turnovers, courtesy AP/Duane Burleson

The Charlotte Bobcats fell on the road to the Pistons, 97-90, on Friday night to drop to 1-4.  Only a few games into the season and it seems like we’re already beating a dead horse: turnovers.  The Bobcats had 22 of them (compared to the Pistons 12) which completely negated their 55% to 43% shooting advantage.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • The Cats got off to another slow start in this one, playing soft D and allowing the Pistons to build a 41-19 lead just a few minutes into the second quarter.  Nazr Mohammed continues to underwhelm, and was benched for the second half in favor of a small lineup.
  • Another concerning stat: the usually aggressive Bobcats only got to the line 11 times; while the Pistons earned 27 free throws (and made all but one).
  • The Cats comeback in the second half was OK.  Derrick Brown and DJ Augustin both played pretty well; each hit a couple of big threes to keep the Cats hanging around.
  • And Stephen Jackson had his best game of the season, pouring in 28 points on 12-19 FG/4-8 3PT.  But he also had a team-high 6 turnovers.
  • To hammer home the turnover issue a little further, the league average looks to be around 15 per game.  At the beginning of the night, the Kings lead the league in fewest turnovers per game at 11.8 per; the Timberwolves give up the most at 20 per.  The Bobcats are the second worst at 18.3 per game; obviously that number will creep a bit higher after tonite’s 22.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

Bobcats Weekend Preview and… James Johnson?

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With an away-home back-to-back in Detroit tonight and hosting Orlando Saturday night, it was already shaping up to be a busy weekend for the 1-3 Bobcats.  Now we can add a trade rumor to the mix.

Friday Night at Detroit

The Cats are in Detroit tonight looking to build on their first win of the season against the Pistons, who are making a nice case for being the worst team in the league.  The Pistons have been in all of their games except the loss to the Celtics, but are nonetheless winless at 0-5.

What’s worse is that the two biggest Pistons stories of the season are finger-pointing between players and coach over a lack of leadership and Charlie Villanueva’s tattling on Kevin Garnett’s over-the-line trash talk.

The latest scuttlebutt is that in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, coach John Kuester benched Rodney Stuckey.  Head over to Detroit Bad Boys for the latest on the Piston’s struggles.

Gametime is 7:30 PM ET and the game will be televised on SportSouth (in HD for Time Warner customers on channel 1510! — a quick check last night showed that 1510 had been added to my channel lineup!).

Saturday night vs Orlando

From one extreme to the other.  The Magic are 2-1, having only played three games because their Tuesday night tilt with the Knicks was postponed due to asbestos in the Garden (weird to type that), but are clearly one of the most dominant teams in the league.  Their loss was an ugly one to the Heat, but their two wins were both absolute throttlings of the Wizards and T-Wolves, by 29 and 42 points, respectively.

The Cats will be looking for a small measure of revenge after getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs last spring, but look no better equipped to combat Dwight Howard and company now than they were then.

Gametime is 7:00 PM ET at the Cable Box.

James Johnson

When Michael Jordan asserted in a recent interview that the “roster churn” was most likely over, we at Bobcats Baseline were skeptical.  The shaky 1-3 start has only reinforced that.

One of the main problems has been mediocre play from Nazr Mohammed (ahem), and a lack of depth behind him.  But with Kwame Brown and Dominic McGuire getting ready to return from injury, I figured Larry Brown and company would at least give those guys a run before making a move.

So I was a little surprised to wake up this morning and see the Bobcats once again leading off Hoopshype.com’s Rumors page.  Via Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Bobcats and Bulls have been talking about James Johnson.

Johnson is a big, tough 6’9″ 250 lb forward in his second year in the league.  He was drafted 16th overall by the Bulls in the 2009 draft out of Wake Forest and averaged almost 12 minutes per game last year.  He was decent as a rookie, but was looked at as somewhat expendable in the offseason after the Bulls acquisition of Carlos Boozer.

But with Boozer’s preseason boxer’s fracture putting him out for the first several weeks of the season, and Johnson coming into camp in fantastic condition, his future in Chicago was temporarily looking a little brighter.  Johnson’s 2011-12 option was recently picked up by the Bulls after a good preseason, and he had a nice 19 minute/8 point/9 rebound/4 assist/3 block/2 steal/+24 PER night against the Pistons last week.

But with Taj Gibson playing pretty well, Boozer’s return around the corner, and new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looking to make his mark on the team and take them deep into the playoffs, Johnson is apparently available again.

What would Larry Brown and the Bobcats be seeing in Johnson?  Probably George Lynch, or Dominic McGuire with a higher ceiling.  Here’s an excellent breakdown of Johnson’s game from Bulls Confidential.

A better question is: what would the Bulls be looking for in return?  They need upgrades at SG and backup PG, but I can’t see the Bobcats being able to accommodate that.  Any ideas, Baseliners?

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter


Cats Man Up for Ugly, Veteran Win in Jersey

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Bobcats win their first game of the season Wednesday night in New Jersey 85-83.  Cats improve to 1-3, Nets drop to 2-2.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Boris Diaw puts the knife and fork down long enough to play his first meaningful game of the season, dropping 24 points on 10-18 shooting, including a major momentum changing three pointer late.  Nice to see Boris focused and motivated.  Look forward to seeing it again in a few weeks.
  • Bobcats come back from 10 down with a little more than 6 minutes to go in this one, looking like a true veteran squad in the process.  They didn’t lose their focus and concentrated on finding good shots and getting to the line (23 to 15 advantage from the stripe) in order to negate the clock.  Nazr Mohammed, who picked up 3 fouls in the game’s first four minutes and looked atrocious in the first half, contributed six points late and played Brook Lopez as well as he ever has.
  • TURNOVER BONANZA! As is their stock in trade, Charlotte continues to both turn the ball over and force ‘em from the other end.  16 a piece in this game for a whopping total of 32.  Ugh.  When the Bobcats come to town, hide the women and children.
  • Both Geralds were beat up in this game. Wallace was lost for most of the third quarter with an ankle injury but returned in the fourth.  Henderson took a one two punch from Anthony Morrow in the third, sending him to the bench for good with a busted nose.
  • Crash’s ability to get to the line and convert is invaluable. Wallace earned eight freebies and made them all, going for 20 points, 11 boards in just 35 minutes. Bobcats had the best player on the court tonight and won for it.

  • DJ wasn’t terrible (5pts/7asts/0TOs) but he’ll never be Brook Lopez.  I wonder what goes through Larry Brown’s mind when he faces off against the multi-dimensional big man four times a year, knowing that he passed on the elite center out of Stanford three drafts ago.  Brook dropped 17 points on the Bobcats and sent back 5 shots on the other end.  As well as Nazr closed the half and as well as Gana Diop defended in relief, Charlotte continues to get dismantled by opposing centers.
  • Derrick Favors = Beast*.  Once he figures out how to play the NBA game, he’s gonna be something special, he’s just a physical specimen at the four spot.  I can see how NJ has been reticent to include him in any Carmelo trade.  Favors has to the potential to be very good.
    *©2008-reggie-productions. all rights reserved.
  • For all the Devin Harris trade hype (I’d gladly welcome him to CLT if a deal transpires), watching him it makes sense why Jersey would consider trading him.  There’s something about Harris’s body language and his relationship to his teammates on the court that makes me think he’s not a natural born leader.  Thoughts?
  • Sherron Collins Sighting! I tweeted that he looks like a gene splice lab creation of Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin, @bobcatsbaseline followers were quick to add Boris Diaw and/or Sean May’s Pillsbury DNA to that mix.  Indeed.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin