Bobcats Defeat Magic For Sixth Straight Victory

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Magic 3/14/10

The Bobcats defeated the Magic in Orlando 96-89 on Sunday night to earn their sixth straight win.  The Cats improved to 34-31 overall and maintained their hold on the 6th spot in the East.  Though Dwight Howard finished with 27 points on 12-14 FGs, the Bobcats were able to keep him frustrated and in foul trouble all game.

AP recap here |  Box score here

With Gerald Wallace sidelined by an ankle sprain, the Bobcats looked to Stephen Jackson to pick up the slack.  Jack delivered with 28 points (10-20 FG, 3-5 3PT, 5-6 FT), 6 rebounds and 6 assists.  Most importantly, as the game hung in the balance in the fourth quarter, when the Cats of old wouldn’t have been able to score, Jack had three huge buckets and two free throws to seal the win.

Defensively, the Bobcats played another solid game.  Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Michael Pietrus combined for 70 points on 26-40 FG, but the rest of the Magic only managed 19 points on 7-32 FG.  Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis, in particular, shot a combined 3-17 and 1-9 3PT.

Tidbits

  • Theo Ratliff put in a days work, playing 32 minutes guarding Dwight Howard.  Theo finished one rebound short of a double-double with 1o points and 9 rebounds.
  • Stephen Graham filled in admirably for Gerald Wallace, with 12 points (4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 3-3 FT) and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes.
  • Speaking of Crash, he is traveling with the team despite the fact that he didn’t play and has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s contest with the Pacers.  When interviewed during the game, Gerald said that he’s been wearing a protective boot over the weekend, but was hoping to take it off tonight.  He also indicated that he’d try to play as soon as allowed, knowing that he’ll be playing through soreness.
  • And speaking of the Pacers, apologies for getting this post up late — I got hooked into the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that premiered tonight on the Reggie Miller/Pacers vs. Knicks rivalry.  Fantastic stuff.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Fall To Magic in Jackson’s Debut

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Magic, 11/16/09

Signs of Life?

The Bobcats fall on the road to the Orlando Magic tonight, 97-91, to drop to 3-7.  AP recap here, box score here, Bonnell story here.  The Cats actually led this one 52-50 at the half off some hot shooting from Boris Diaw and Flip Murray.  However, a dismal 16-point quarter put them down 8 heading into the final period, and the Cats just don’t have the firepower to mount a 4th quarter comeback of that magnitude against a team the caliber of the Magicians.

Flip Murray’s 31 points tied a career high for him, and represent the best scoring night of any Bobcat thus far this season.  Raymond Felton spent most of the night in foul trouble, and DJ was again ineffective, so Flip played 34 minutes (many while running the point) and filled it up on 13-21 FG, 2-6 3PT.  However, Murray missed a chance keep the Bobcats alive and set a new career high when he missed a couple of free throws in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Jackson had a decent debut for the Bobcats; he started, played 45 minutes, and generally acquitted himself pretty well with 13 points and 9 rebounds.  However, his shot was not falling (4-14 FG, 1-4 3PT, 4-8 FT) — had a few more of those dropped, we might be talking about a pretty special debut.

One of the real benefits that Jackson provided, and will hopefully continue to provide, doesn’t even show up in his numbers, though.  It’s in the numbers of Raymond Felton (6) and Gerald Wallace (5).  What are those numbers, you ask?  Field goal attempts.  With Jackson around, there will be less pressure on Felton and Wallace, two inefficient shooters, to provide scoring.

Bullets

  • Tyson Chandler continues to be disappointing for the Bobcats; got in foul trouble early and only played 24 mins, with 2 points, 4 rebounds.  Nazr continued to play well off the bench; but the Bobcats were most fortunate that Gortat was out for the Magic, who thus went small when Dwight Howard was on the bench and allowed the Cats to go small as well.
  • No one had a huge night for the Magic — but they put 7 guys in double figures in an impressive team performance.
  • No minutes for Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown or Alexis Ajinca tonight; understandable, as LB saw a chance to steal a win and stuck with the veterans.
  • DJ has no confidence out there.  2 points on 1-4 FG in 13 minutes.  His poor start to the year is probably the most under-discussed concerning thing about the Bobcats right now.
  • At this point (of the night, but also of this Bobcats season) I’m out of dramatic adjectives, but here’s the link for interest: Bonnell reports that Iverson’s camp has “reached out” to Larry Brown in the wake of AI and the Grizzlies agreeing to an annulment.  You know what?  At this point, why not?  Maybe it would be the Bobcats “dancing bears and midget car” moment (thanks, “Bobcat orange?”), but I rather agree with my Baseline compadre, ASChin — while the Bobcats are mortgaging their financial future and risking any remaining bit of community goodwill that was based on having “good guys” on the team in order to get to the playoffs, we might as well go down in a blaze of glory.
  • Next game is Wednesday night in Philly to take on the almost-equally disappointing 76ers at 7PM ET.  Won’t be live tweeting due to the early start, but will catch up with the DVR and have a post up here late Wednesday night.

-Dr. E

Magic Hand Bobcats Decisive Loss

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Baseline Observations: Magic @ Bobcats, 11/10/09

The Gist

The Bobcats never developed any consistent or dynamic offense and were handily defeated by the Magic, 93-81 on a rainy Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  AP recap here, box score here, Bonnell story here.  The Cats did just about everything wrong that they could possibly do en route to being routed in a ho-hum affair.

Fall behind early?  Check: After a tie at 13-13, the Magic pulled away to lead 35-23 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

Big men get in foul trouble early?  Check: Tyson Chandler picked up 2 fouls guarding Dwight Howard in less than 4 minutes and had to sit the rest of the first half.  Same thing happened to start the second half.

Miss easy shots? Check: Gerald Wallace missed two dunks, and another layup that he should have dunked.

Fall in love with the 3, even though no one’s hitting it?  Check: the Bobcats were 2-17 from long-range.

The Cats made the game mildly interesting by cutting the lead to six a couple times during a stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer as the Magic would pull away again.

Credit where credit is due, Raymond Felton really led the charge during the third quarter run and ended up having the only remotely laudable performance by a Bobcat: 18 pts (6-10 FG, 1-2 3PT), 4 assists:1 turnover for a +5.  Raymond’s solid performance was rendered practically spectacular by comparison to that of DJ Augustin, who ran point for several bad stints (-17 +/-).

Moving On

This is one of those games that is probably best forgotten, which shouldn’t be too hard.  Nothing particularly memorable happened; and there’s another game Wednesday night to look forward to (at Detroit, 7:30 PM ET start).

And besides, watching this game live wasn’t even what resonated most with me about the Bobcats today.  This was (ESPN Insider access needed).  ESPN.com’s Chad Ford and John Hollinger teamed up to produce “Future Power Rankings.”  It’s an ambitious article with a great conceit: the idea is that by assigning points in weighted categories, the 30 NBA teams are ranked in order of overall projected on-court success from now through the 2012-13 season.

The categories were as follows: up to 400 points for players/roster, up to 200 points for management/front office, up to 200 points for money/salary cap situation, up to 100 points for market, and up to 100 points for future draft picks.

Now when I read the introduction to the article, I knew for sure that the Cats were going to be in the bottom five — as we’ve chronicled since the inception of Bobcats Baseline, the future ain’t too bright with this franchise.  Nonetheless, I’m an optimistic guy; we almost made the playoffs last year, we have some interesting young talent (DJ Augustin, Gerald Henderson), and there are some other really messed up franchises (Memphis, Sacramento, etc.).  So to find where Ford and Hollinger placed the Bobcats, I clicked down to the page that had teams 21-25 and hoped.

No Bobcats.  Drats, we are in the bottom five.  Click to 26-30, scroll down, keep scrolling… begin to contemplate the possibility that our near future may be the worst in the NBA, worse than the Grizz, worse than the Bucks.  And yes, according to Ford and Hollinger, the Charlotte Bobcats rank dead last, 30 out of 30, in regards to their potential for on-court success over the next few NBA seasons.  Here’s the blurb:

If you think the Bobcats’ present is bad, just wait ’til you see their future.

Charlotte ranked as the league’s most hopeless franchise in our survey, finishing in the bottom four in every category except one. Even that category, the draft, came with an asterisk: Charlotte ranked well because we expect it to struggle and get high picks, but a future choice it foolishly traded away for the rights to Alexis Ajinca last year could end up costing the Cats a high lottery pick. That’s why they ranked only 12th rather than in the top four.

There’s not much to like here. Charlotte has no cap space until 2011 at the earliest, limited financial resources and a rep for being tight-fisted, ranking the Bobcats 29th in the money category. The Queen City is a small market with no buzz, placing the Bobcats 27th in the market category. And the roster is nothing to write home about either, as D.J. Augustin is the only young player with anything remotely resembling star potential. Most of the other key players are in their late 20s and will be getting worse, not better, in coming years.

Finally, there’s the management — only Golden State’s and Memphis’ rated worse. Owner Robert Johnson has seemed to be in over his head from Day 1, while Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan allegedly runs the team while mulling which iron to play from a fairway bunker in Illinois. That’s left impulsive coach Larry Brown shaping a lot of the day-to-day personnel decisions, with rash moves like the Ajinca trade and the Emeka Okafor-Tyson Chandler deal resulting.

Chew on that, fellow Baseliners.  Tastes like depressing.

-Dr. E


Charlotte Bobcats vs. Magic 2/20/09

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1.  Bobcats get blown out at the Cable Box by the Magic on Friday night, 92-80.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.  The Bobcats drop to 22-33; still just 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot, but also still with 5 teams to leapfrog to get there.

2.  The team apparently announced a sellout for this Friday night tilt against Dwight Howard and the Magic, but the arena was probably 2/3 full (OK, maybe 3/4, I didn’t look too hard).  Still an impressive crowd to come out and watch a lottery team in the midst of this recession.

Unfortunately, the home team didn’t give the fans much of a reason to get excited  The Cats were dominated in pretty much every aspect of the game by the superior Magic, and were lucky to claw away at the lead a bit late, making the final score somewhat respectable.

3.  Per Bonnell, Larry Brown called out Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin during his postgame comments for taking too many shots at the expense of facilitating the offense (only 8 assists between them).  But let me offer a dissenting opinion (I am a blogger, after all): there was no offense to facilitate.  Seriously, no one else had it going, so naturally, the guys who have the ball in their hands the most are going to eventually take most of the shots.

Check the game flow or the play-by-play: of Raymond’s 18 shots, only 7 were taken before halftime (and 4 were made).  After the half, when it was pretty clear that the Magic were winning this one and the Bobcats weren’t going to be able to offer much resistance, Raymond jacked up 11 more shots (only making two).

Same thing with Augustin: he was 1-2 FG in the first half; 2-9 in the second half.

I’m not trying to completely dispute Brown’s point.  He’s right; it is the PG’s job to facilitate the offense, and if the team can’t get it going, it’s often primarily due to the PG’s inability to facilitate.  (And Raymond is a terrible shooter who shouldn’t be pulling up for 20 footers off of high screens or taking threes more than once or twice a game.)  But against the Magic on Friday night no one else emerged as a viable endpoint to such facilitation.

4.  Without belaboring the point, let’s take a look at some of the other lackluster performances:

Gerald Wallace logged 42 minutes, but scored only 11 points (3-8 FG) and 6 rebounds.  He was very frustrated guarding and being guarded by the Magic’s big forwards (Turkoglu and Lewis); and on the occasion he could get around them, he was met by Howard inside.  (Howard tallied 6 blocks, and significantly affected at least a dozen others.)

In the second half, Wallace aimed all of his frustrated energy not at the Magic, but at the officials.  He took to flailing around, trying to draw fouls every time he fought through a screen and scowling at the refs.  On a couple of occasions, he was lucky to not draw a tech.  Surprisingly, these antics roughly coincided with the Bobcats chipping away at the lead late; but it was too little, too late.  And all the energy directed at the refs would have been better utilized directed towards the Magic in the first half.

Boris Diaw had another underwhelming game, scoring 15 points (5-14 FG) with 8 rebounds and only 2 assists (vs. 3 TOs).  After a strong first few weeks with the team, Diaw has seemingly settled into the kind of uninspired, lackadaisical play that resulted in him being tagged as “overpaid” in recent years.

5.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Bobcats’ defense yet.  The Cats, probably overly concerned with helping down low to prevent Howard from going off like he had on Tuesday night, did a poor job rotating on defense and identifying Turkoglu and Lewis on the perimeter.  When those guys (and the Magic’s other smalls) are playing well, defending the Magic is an exercise in picking your poison.

So the Magic worked their overall offensive gameplan very effectively and efficiently.  Turkoglu had 24 points on only 13 shots; Rashard Lewis had 18 on 5-9 3PT shooting.  Howard only needed to chip in with 13 points.

6.  Overall, the Magic proved that they are a superior team.  Check this quote by newly acquired PG Rafer Alston, who had 8 assists in his first game with the team:

“Everywhere I looked, I had a weapon to pass it to… I think point guards in this league would love to be in that situation.  Everywhere you turn, you’ve got a guy who can flat-out shoot it or can drive it and finish.”

7.  Speaking of Alston, great acquisition by the Magic.  I had advocated trading Felton to Orlando, hoping to get Mickael Pietrus or Courtney Lee back, but wondering if the Magic were desperate enough for PG help to do that.  Clearly they weren’t, as they were able to get Alston (who is a known commodity to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy from their year together in Miami) for a pittance: sending Brian Cook to the Rockets and the pu-pu platter of Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks, their first round draft pick and some cash to the Grizzlies.

Alston will be a servicable starter for the Magic the rest of the season, and will be a capable backup next year at $5 million — and the only asset of consequence they gave up was this year’s draft pick.

8.  One last note: it’s fun to watch a young super-duper-star like Howard become comfortable in his role as such, while not losing sight of what the ultimate goal of playing in the NBA is.  What I mean is that Howard is comfortable putting on a show for a crowd that he knows came to watch him (as evidenced by the alley-oop exhibition in warmups, the good-natured running banter with courtside fans, and throwing his shoes into the crowd after the game); but clearly knows that the point is to win games and eventually, a championship.  He has improved his game every year, is a good teammate, and plays the game “the right way” in general.

9.  Next game is Sunday afternoon at 5:00 ET in Houston, as the Bobcats embark on a 5-game/7-day Western Conference road trip.  As 5-game Western Conference road trips go, this one isn’t too bad, with Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento, Golden State and the LA Clippers on the docket.

If you’re still holding out hope for the 8th playoff spot, you’re wanting a 3-2 road trip, which is totally possible.

-E

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Magic 11/16/08

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1. Bobcats lose 90-85 to the visiting Magic tonight, dropping to 3-6 in the process.  AP story here, box score here.  The two storylines to the game are encapsulated by the picture choices above.

2. Same starting lineup tonight as on Friday night: Felton, Carroll, Wallace, May, Okafor.  May only played 13 minutes though – he still has a lot of rust to knock off.

3. The Cats played excellent defense in the first half – in particular, the rotations were crisp and aggressive, and Okafor did a nice job on Howard.  Emeka emphatically blocked one of Superman’s short hook attempts in a reversal of their usual roles.  Pietrus and Lewis kept Orlando afloat, while Wallace paced the Bobcats.  Morrison had back-to-back crowd-pleasing 3 pointers early in the second quarter, while Felton and Wallace connected on a great alley-oop later on to keep the buzz going.  43-38 Cats at the break.

4. The good defense on Howard would continue the rest of the evening, as he ended the game with only 4 points – all on free throws.  That’s right – not one field goal for D-Ho.  Pretty amazing.  Additionally, the Bobcats attacked him on the other end and kept him in foul trouble all night.  Despite the officials best attempts to observe the superstar code with Howard, he eventually fouled out with a few minutes left in the game.  Line: 26 mins, 4 points on 0-3 FG, 4-6 FT, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 5 blocks.  OK, so he still contributed with those “hustle stats”, but overall you’re never going to see that poor of a game from D-Ho again.

5. On the other hand, the Bobcats had no answer for Hedo Turkoglu in the second half.  With Gerald Wallace occupied with Rashard Lewis most of the night, and Larry Brown desperate for an offensive spark, Adam Morrison spent a lot of time at the other forward spot guarding Turkoglu.  Turkoglu ended with “just” 20 points on 6-15 FG (8-9 FT), but for much of the second half, he just owned Morrison on both ends of the floor.  Tough matchup for Morrison, as he can usually make up for his lack of speed/quickness with his height/length; but Turkoglu at 6’10” negates that.

6. Would’ve been nice to have had J-Rich tonight, as the Bobcats just couldn’t get any sustained offensive threat going.  Matt Carroll was not really able to show much in the few extra minutes of PT he got tonight (or on Friday night, for that matter).

7. I hate to bring this up, because a) it’s beating a dead horse, b) it’s totally understandable, and c) I certainly don’t miss it anyways, but I have to mention that the Bobcats have not any halftime entertainment at any of the games I’ve been to.  I missed the home opener, so I can’t comment on that one, but ever since they’ve just trotted out the drumline or had the dance team do a routine.  No Chinese lady on a unicycle flipping bowls onto her head; no muscled up, homoerotic, balancing-on-each-other Russian male gymnasts; no frisbee-catching stunt dogs; not even any trampoline dunkers.

Tonight was actually kinda painful, as they didn’t even have the drummers or the dancers out there, and it was up to the arena announcer and cameramen to entertain.  The cameramen found people wearing paraphenalia from various teams and the crowd responded accordingly (Duke = boos, UNC = cheers, Davidson = cheers, Panthers = cheers, Falcons = boos).  So again, I can totally understand not paying for any visiting entertainment, and I don’t miss the local gymnastics school’s tumbling routine, but I do have to wonder: is this happening at other NBA arenas this year?  Not every franchise is hurting as much as the Bobcats, right?

8. Must read link from last week that, inexplicably, I never got around to posting and commenting on.  It’s from the Wages of Wins blog, commenting on the dilemma that non-stars in the NBA find themselves in, using Shannon Brown and the rest of the Bobcats as an example.

9. Latest Bobcats personnel rumor: we’re considering bringing on Jamaal Tinsley if/when he gets bought out by the Pacers.  First it was Eddy Curry, then Sean Williams, now Jamaal Tinsley.  I’m beginning to think that Larry Brown/Rod Higgins motto is: “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, your castoffs and ne’er-do-wells.”  ‘Cept that none of these dudes are very poor.

And the best part is, to get to that rumor in the link, you have to page down past the story of Robin Lopez’s excellent showing in his first start of the season.  Yep, the same Robin Lopez that the Bobcats were set to draft before cowtowing to Larry Brown’s request to pick DJ Augustin.

10. Next game: Tuesday night at home, hosting the Mavs at 7:00 to wrap up the home stand.  Would it be sacrilege to bust out my Dirk jersey for this one?

-E

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter below for pointing out my mistake.  In item #9 above, I meant Brook Lopez, not Robin.

Bobcats Preseason Update

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Preseason Updates

Several events to recap for the Bobcats this week.  Looking past the Season Tickets Embarrassment and the trade speculation, here’s what did happen.

 

PRESEASON STREAK INTACT

The Bobcats kept their losing streak alive with a 10 point loss to the Orlando Magic on Thursday morning.  From the looks of it, the team really didn’t use any starters in the last stretch of the fourth quarter.  Larry Brown was probably using the opportunity to evaluate the roster (and see if any of the scrubs had learned anything this preseason).  Gerald Wallace played well, but left with a back injury.  We’ll have to get an update on the extent of that.  Also, it looks like Sean May put forth a “well-rounded” effort with field goals all over of the place and 6 rebounds.  Let’s hope he gets in shape for the season.

 

NEW GUY HEADED TO CHARLOTTE

The Bobcats signed a free agent Forward-Center that was off of everyone’s radar – Justin Williams.  He’s young and maybe just a bit too good for the D-League.  We’ll see if he’s just a practice squad body to push Sean May and Andre Brown or if he’s worth a roster spot.  More on Williams.

 

GOODBYE TAYLOR, WILLIAMS

Charlotte cut free agents Donell Taylor and Marcus Williams.  These guys were brought in as long shots to make the squad.  I’m sure they learned a bit and kept in good basketball shape while in training camp.  Both can go on in life to talk about how they were coached by Larry Brown and were watched by Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Michael Jordan.  Surely, that’s some consolation.

 

ESPN ARTICLE

Also, ESPN.com’s John Hollinger has a little bit of speculation about the potential of the Bobcats for the upcoming season. . . it has a lot to do with Sean May.  Read it here.

 

Not too good…

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The Bobcats lost their first preseason matchup 118-80 to the Magic tonight. If you watched this debacle, my apologies. If you didn’t, and want the post-mortem, continue reading:

The Good

  • Not much for the Bobcats. Adam Morrison looked surprisingly competent for a very brief stretch in the second quarter, as he was able to bury a couple of shots when everyone else was ice cold and totally out of sync.
  • DJ Augustin’s handle. It’s fun to watch Little Miss Giggles dribble… seriously. He’s one of those guys that just has exquisite control of the ball at all times – just don’t let him shoot (0-5 tonight).
  • Dwight Howard, the best big man in the world (sorry Yao and Amare), was utterly dominant in limited action. 20 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks in 25 minutes — yep, that’s a good night’s work. And 8-10 from the free throw line? Has Superman conquered his Kryptonite?
  • (I can’t believe I’m writing this) JJ Redick. Redick shot really well tonight and looked surprisingly quick and decisive. He looked like a guy who is prepared, and a little desperate, to prove himself.

The Bad

  • The Bobcats fell behind 40-9 by the end of the first quarter, due to awful shooting and sending the Magic to the line for 20 free throws. Thankfully, I missed the first few minutes of the game.
  • For the remaining three quarters, things generally continued along those lines: the Bobcats ended the game shooting 28.4% and the Magic ended the game with 53 free throw attempts (they hit an astounding 48 of them, good for 90.6%).
  • The Bobcats rotations were all sorts of wacky, as should be expected with a new coach, some new faces on the squad, and some old faces carefully working their ways back from injury.
  • Alexis Ajinca. He’s 7’2″, runs and moves like a small forward, and has a decent face-up short-to-midrange shot. But that’s all that he’s got going right now. This guy is not even close to being ready for prime time, with no sense of timing or basketball IQ. Don’t believe for a minute that Ajinca is going to play regular minutes in the regular season this year. He needs major work in the D-League. Ryan Hollins, your spot is safe for one more year.
  • The guys at the end of the bench playing for the 15th spot. I didn’t see anything remotely interesting or promising out of Andre Brown, Donell Taylor or Marcus Williams. I can’t see any of these guys making the roster out of camp, though Brown has the best chance simply due to his size.

The Ugly

  • The Magic’s new unis. Now I’m usually a sucker for any new uni, particularly when it has either a cool, modern feel (I’m one of those horrid people who actually likes Oregon’s football kits) or a decidedly throwback aesthetic. And the Magic’s new uniforms definitely have a cool, modern sensibility with the contoured pinstripes. But I’m just not feeling them – maybe because their previous unis were perfectly fine.
  • Amway Arena. Not that there’s anything physically wrong with Orlando’s building, but I get a kick out of it every time I hear “Amway Arena” (I know the Magic’s owner is the co-founder of Amway, by the way). Seriously, do they have the “Ponzi Scheme Practice Court” at Amway Arena? Then I remember that the Bobcats play at Time Warner Cable Arena, and I can’t decide which corporation I respect less.

-E