Bobcats Come Up Big To Defeat Celtics

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Tres (Photo by Chuck Burton/AP)

The Charlotte Bobcats rode big contributions from unlikely sources to beat the East-leading Boston Celtics 94-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box. After Stephen Jackson was ejected arguing a call in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson stepped up off the bench to fill the void.  Gerald Wallace continued his recent strong play, leading the Bobcats with 19 points and 16 rebounds.

AP Recap |  Box Score

After hanging with, but ultimately succumbing to elite teams twice over the weekend at home, the Bobcats got another chance against the Boston Celtics, who were without Shaq, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden due to injuries (not to mention Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West) AND on the second night of a back-too-back.

This one started out similarly to the Heat and Mavs games: the Cats showing no signs of backing down, hanging right with the Celtics.  Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen played well early on, while Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats.  Early in the second quarter, 6′-7″ Shaun Livingston took advantage of his matchup with 5′-9″ Nate Robinson to the tune of 10 points in a 5 minute span.

But late in the second quarter, Cap’n Jack struck again.  After a defensive switch left Jackson on Garnett in the post, Garnett began to work for position.  Jackson fought him for said position, forcing Garnett to take an awkward, slightly off-balance step.  Garnett sold it well and a foul was called on Jackson.

It wasn’t a terrible call; but Jack apparently thought it was and laid into the official, quickly drawing a tech.  Silas went to the bench to sub for Jack, but not quickly enough.  Jack continued to berate the refs on the way towards the sideline and drew his second tech and an ejection.

But the Bobcats surprisingly wouldn’t fade, taking a one point lead into halftime.  Midway through the third, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit back-to-back threes to give the Celtics 65-57 lead; but from that point, the Bobcats dug in for a strong finish.

The fourth quarter was an exctiting, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw an unconventional Bobcats crunchtime group overcome Jack’s ejection and a Celtics team that appeared to run out of gas.

Coach Paul Silas went with Shaun Livingston’s hot hand down the stretch over DJ Augustin; Livingston responded and kept up his strong play, finishing the game with 18 points on 7-10 FG.

Gerald Henderson filled in admirably for Jackson, playing his customary fantastic perimeter defense and nailing a clutch 20-footer off a down screen with 2:31 left to give the Bobcats an 86-83 lead.

And on the next Bobcats possession, Eduardo Najera, who played great defense on Kevin Garnett in 19 minutes of playing time, drained a huge three to push the lead to 89-83.  From there, good defense and a few free throws closed it out.

Notes

  • With Gerald Henderson’s continued improvement and Stephen Jackson’s persistent and apparently worsening troubles, is a trade becoming more and more likely?  I’d love to see it, even if doing so meant the Bobcats falling out of the playoffs.  Problem is, with Jack’s continued embarrassing behavior and the Maverick’s elite play with their current roster, would they still even be interested in him?
  • So Jack is up to 13 technical fouls, if you’re counting.  As a reminder, once you get to 16, every other tech begets a one-game suspension. More disincentive for another team to make a trade for him.
  • Kwame Brown also picked up a tech for getting into Kendrick Perkins face after a hard foul.
  • Ray Allen had only two three-pointers and will have to wait another game to tie and overtake Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record for made threes.
  • Next game is Wednesday night as the Bobcats visit Indianapolis to take on the Pacers; 7 PM ET start.  Along with the Sixers and Bucks, the Pacers are one of the teams that the Bobcats will be fighting for the 7th-8th East playoff spot — so the head-to-head matchups are obviously huge.  The Pacers currently lead the Cats by a half-game for the 8th spot.

-Dr. E

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

Bobcats Win Streak Ends at Four After Being Narrowly Defeated by Celtics

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He's 38. He had 23 points. What?!? (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The Boston Celtics won by five points at home against the Bobcats on Friday night, with the score 99-94. The Bobcats were led by Gerald Wallace and D.J. Augustin (at least offensively) who had 20 and 19 points, respectively. On the other hand, Rajon Rondo put up a very Rajon Rondo-y night with 18 points and 13 assists along with Shaquille O’Neal turned back time, who gathered 23 points and 5 blocks. Ray Allen was also very effective at quelling the Bobcats effort to come back, draining two of his four treys in the fourth en route to 19 points.

Recap | Box Score

But don’t take the score for face value; it wasn’t as close as it sounds. The Bobcats managed to get 34 free throws at TD Garden, nine more than the Celtics. Furthermore, the Bobcats shot a mediocre 42.1% from the field while the Celtics shot 52.2%. That said, the Celtics are an elite team and even without Kevin Garnett, they’re a force to be reckoned with. I feel like I should be somewhat encouraged by how we only lost by five points, but I’m finding it a little hard to do so.

Tids & Bits (forgoing the yays/nays tonight)

  • D.J. Augustin – He did play decently on offense, recording 19 points on 5-11 shooting with 6 assists against Rajon Rondo. However, I couldn’t help noticing his deficiency on defense. He struggled to get through screens (which the Celtics are excellent at doing) and his height doesn’t lend any help either to guard Rondo. It just seemed like Augustin wasn’t doing anything to hinder Rondo’s play-making ability. In other words, it looked like Rondo was able to get the ball where it needed to be whenever he wanted against D.J.’s defense. Hell, Rondo even hit a three-pointer.
  • Stephen Jackson – Bleh. Thirteen points from 17 attempts. I’m not a fan of running the offense through Jackson. By all means pass it to him when he’s open or has a good look in the post, but don’t make him go into iso-mode. Usually he gets double-teamed and either puts up bad shots or turns the ball over.
  • Boris Diaw – Boris quietly had a decent night with 11 points on seven shots and 8 rebounds while defending Glen “Big Baby” Davis pretty well (11 points, 4-7 FG, 5 REB).
  • Kwame Brown – Ah, yes. Kwame, Kwame, Kwame. After playing decently lately, he was just bullied by Grandpa Shaq. I believe that’s all I need to say about that. Oh and at one point Shaq fell on Kwame and squished him.
  • The Bench – They played pretty well, outscoring the Celtics bench. Tyrus Thomas had 6 points and 5 rebounds in the first half, but he had trouble scoring in the second, only recording two more points after the half. However he did rebound well, grabbing nine boards. Livingston was decent as well. I thought he defended Rondo better than Augustin did, but for some reason, Knee Man just couldn’t take advantage of being matched up with Nate Robinson, who’s nearly a foot shorter. Livingston ended the game with 7 points on 3-7 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Nothing really notable about the other guys.
  • As for the Celtics, they’re still really beat up. Kevin Garnett is a few days from returning and they’re bringing Semih Erden off the bench to replace Shaq. But their starters play so well together on both sides of the ball, that it’s usually enough to beat most teams. Every starter on their squad put up double figures in points, with only Glen Davis getting fewer than 18 points.
  • Gerald Wallace – I don’t really have much to say about his game tonight, as it was normal Crash with 50% FG, 6 REB, 10 FTA. However, there was big news this morning when Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported that sources had told him that the Cavaliers were in discussions to trade the LeBron trade exception money to the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace (and possibly a lottery-protected first round pick). I don’t understand this at all for us. Gerald Wallace still has value. He’s a good defender, fills up the stat sheet and is decent on offense. He was even an All-Star last year. If these reports are true (who knows if they are), this is very disheartening. It pretty much says “We value lots of money more than Gerald Wallace’s talent.” And all this time I had thought cheap-o Bob Johnson was gone. *Sigh*

Anyway, this wasn’t the worst loss, and we managed to hold our own against a great team, so I’m not too disappointed. Not too much time to dwell on it anyway as we have the Hornets Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST at the Cable Box.

- 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.

Celtics Whip Bobcats in Boston

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Boston 3/3/10

The Bobcats played like the Delta Force in January.  Now they look more like the Disorderlies.
Boston goes up big early and then outscores Charlotte 28-16 in the third quarter as they go on to win 104-80 over the Bobcats.

AP recap here | Box score here

Around the Horn

Congrats to NBA International League Pass Broadband for stealing my money this evening.  In the meantime allow me to metacritic.com the hell out of this recap.

From Bobcats.com:
“I don’t think anybody could have played in that environment,” said Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown. “They played great, they made shots, they executed great – we played hard, but there were too many obstacles. They were great. At one time I think they were 10-for-12 from three, they shot 60 percent in the first half and shared the ball. Their bench was great – if we would have played our best, I don’t know if that would have been good enough.”

Our friend David at RufusOnFire.com writes:
The Celtics play ugly. Every opponent should know that going in. Yet, the JordanCats again lost their poise and looked like they wanted to be anywhere other than on the court tonight. As noted in the preview, the Cs should be a good matchup for the Cats, but Charlotte’s lost to them by 33 in the season opener, then by 18 in December, and now by 24. When Boris Diaw is your only effective shooter from the field, you don’t deserve to win.

From CelticsBlog.com:
“I thought the key was the third quarter,” said coach Doc Rivers. “We came out and extended the lead. That’s when you take away games- when you’re up ten at halftime and you get it to twenty or you’re up ten at halftime and they cut it to one or two.”
Asked about his minor altercation with Stephen Jackson which resulted in a double technical foul, (Paul) Pierce downplayed the event but did note that clashing with opposing players and showing that extra fire and attitude on the court is something that they could use more of.

From Rick Bonnell’s Charlotte.com recap:
…It’s about body language and tattered communication and selfishness. It’s about no longer recognizing that Bobcats squad that won nine of 10 in January.”That was a team,” Wallace said of the Bobcats’ former incarnation, following a 104-80 loss. “This one is just guys out on their own as individuals. Not talking, not communicating on defense.”And the implications?
“Very worried,” Wallace said of the playoff prospects. “Even if we manage to figure this out and some other team slips up, I don’t know what kind of game we’d play. I’m worried if we do (make the playoffs), we’ll get swept.”

Bonnell elaborates in his blog:
…Now they don’t set good screens, don’t work together well enough to limit the other team’s dribble-penetration. I’m just glad Gerald has the courage to call them out about this. Not that I’m surprised. He’s earned that right because he’s the last original Bobcat left and because there’s nothing about him to suggest he cares more about “me” than “we.”

Bottom Line

Time is running out if the ‘Cats want to get serious about the Playoffs.  They’re a game behind Miami (easiest remaining schedule amongst bottom half contenders) and now two and half games behind Milwaukee and Chicago.  Charlotte will have to go on a bit of a tear late this month and through April to have any chance of sneaking in.

Enjoy the Loss, Bobcats Fans…

–ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats @ Celtics 10/28/09

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Bobcats fall to the Celtics in the season opener tonight 59-92.

1. It is often said that a good defense beats a good offense but tonight the Bobcats added a new wrinkle to that old chestnut: An ATROCIOUS OFFENSE will eventually infect your great defense and render it moot.

When five players who should be either THIRD or FOURTH OPTIONS play hot potato with the basketball for 24 seconds, NOTHING good can happen.  Players who aren’t naturally turnover prone BECOME turnover prone and that is what happened to the Bobcats tonight.  The Bobcats 18 turnovers don’t even tell the whole story.  Bad or errant shots also lead to long rebounds, fast breaks and easy points for the opposing team and there were plenty of bad shots against the Celts.  The ‘Cats went 23-74 from the field and shot 50% from the charity stripe.  Everyone played horrible save for a few solid minutes from 2nd Rounder Derrick Brown and little-used center Nazr Mohammed.  Yes, it was that bad.

2. BRIEFLY in Celtics news:

Paul Piece is awesome, Ray Allen is still the best shooter in the game, Garnett’s “INTENSE” Act is TIRED, and Rasheed Wallace has the easiest job of his entire career: Stand around the three point line and launch trifectas over the arms of smaller defenders. With Cleveland looking bad thus far, it’s gotta be Boston and Orlando as the top teams in the East without a doubt.

3. Remember how everyone was saying that Stephen Graham was the next “George Lynch?”

What they meant to say was that he was the next “David Lynch,” a surrealist who believes that just because he wears Michael Jordan’s number, he deserves as many offensive opportunities.  Graham is a player who at most should be playing 5-8 minutes in spot defender duty.  Tonight he played 29 minutes, taking 11 shots, making 2 and, as a “defensive-ace” is often to do, registered a whopping -33 plus/minus.  He also started.

4. Remember how everyone was saying that D.J. Augustin should be the starting Point Guard?

Yeah, we’ve all said it and he looked like a starting PG tonight: A PG who should be starting for an Offensively-Disabled team.  One point, four assists, 0-5 from the floor.  Raymond-fanatics can take a little solace in the fact that Felton’s -1 plus/minus easily ousted D.J.’s -30 but that’s largely unfair because while Augustin was suffering on the court through the Celtics 3rd Quarter DEMOLITION, Raymond was enjoying a comparatively peaceful time in the locker-room having 15 stitches sewn into his mouth.

5. Was Larry Brown using this as a statement game?

Remember that this kind of thing happened last season too.  Bobcats begin their season on the road in Cleveland and get blown out by the Cavs.  They continue to start slow, Larry whines to the front office and eventually gets his wish for a roster overhaul and the team finishes strong.  So as it is VERY clear that this team can’t score (and before you start with the “It’s only one game” rhetoric, I’ve watched a lot of basketball in my life and this monstrosity didn’t strike me as a “bad game” so much as it did “this team isn’t built properly”).  I’m still optimistic about the season but Coach Brown is going to have to go into full persuasion-mode in order to bring in a FIRST OPTION like a Monta Ellis or whoever else is out there.  Wonder if Bonnell still thinks that a healthy Iverson would’ve ruined the team?

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Celtics 11/29/08

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1. Bobcats lose to the visiting Celtics on Saturday night, 89-84.  AP story here, box score here, PopcornMachine.net game flow here.  This was the eighth straight win for the Celtics, who move to 16-2 overall, while the Bobcats fall to 5-11.

2. Big crowd tonight on a holiday weekend to see the Cats host the World Champion Celtics.  The crowd was announced as a sellout (19,177) but I would estimate the place was about 85% full.  Michael Jordan was back in the house in his customary seat at the end of the bench; Bob Johnson was at midcourt; and NASCAR dude Jimmie Johnson was a few seats down from him.  I would estimate that between a quarter and a third of the crowd were green-clad Celtics fans.  We were treated to a close, defensively-minded and well-played game in which the Bobcats ultimately succumbed to the champs.

3. The Bobcats again started Felton, Richardson, Wallace, May and Okafor and let that group play together for 8 or 9 minutes.  That lineup played very well and grabbed a 12-4 lead after a few minutes; the first quarter ended with the Cats up 22-17.  Sean May continues to take baby steps back towards being a functional NBA player, grabbing 4 rebounds and hitting 3-5 FGs in 18 minutes.  The 15-20 foot jumper and the rebounding instincts are still there, but right now the game is moving a bit fast for him.

4. Ditto “the game moving too fast right now” for Alexis Ajinca.  Lex logged a few minutes in the second quarter, but looked pretty out of place against the Celtics mix of experienced veterans and veteran-like young guys (granted, there’s no one on the Celtics that’s a good matchup for him, and he got stuck on Big Baby Davis for those few minutes).  I’ll continue to beat the drum that Freedom Fries needs regular minutes – in the D-League – to acclimate himself to American basketball.

Hopefully, we now have another functional big in Dwayne Jones such that the team can spare Lex and let him get those D-League minutes.  Jones played 13 minutes, and didn’t log any meaningful statistics, but looked mostly competent.  He definitely led the team in “mini-conferences with teammates during breaks in the action so that he understood his responsibilities” in the upcoming possesions.

5. Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace led the team with 22 and 23 points, respectively.  Both were able to get their points within the offense, and within their comfort zones.  Richardson again showed no ill effects from his recent knee troubles.

6. However, the discipled Celtics defense was able to prevent both Richardson and Wallace from getting much going in the crucial last three minutes.  Take a look at the 4th quarter play-by-play and you’ll note that both guys contributed in the beginning and middle of the final period; but with most of the crowd standing (seriously!) and hanging on every play in the last few minutes, the Cs stayed at home on D, prevented Richardson and Wallace from touching the ball, and dared Raymond Felton to beat them.

7. And after a fantastic game on Friday night against the Pacers in which he hit from everywhere (including a tough, driving layup to send the game into OT) Raymond had a dismal follow-up game.  He was 2-15 from the floor with 6 turnovers.  He continues to find other ways to contribute, with 7 rebounds and 6 assists, but it was the four (yes, four) missed layups down the stretch (two were blocked) that killed the Bobcats chances of pulling this one out.  Clearly, the Celtics had committed to staying at home on defense and taking their chances with Felton, and it was the right decision.  Raymond has a knack for overpenetrating, giving himself an exceedingly difficult shot, and rarely drawing a foul in the process.  Perhaps it should be DJ doing the majority of the ballhandling in crunch time?  (It was again a lineup of Augustin, Felton, Richardson, Wallace and Okafor in the fourth quarter.)

8. To contrast, when the game was on the line, the Celtics were able to go to Paul Pierce.  The Truth got them eight points (on two short jumpers and four free throws) in the last four minutes to put the Bobcats away.  It’s worth noting exactly how Paul Pierce was able to do this: the Celtics exploited the Bobcats small lineup by getting Pierce isolated on the much smaller Augustin through screens and switches several times.  Hopefully this doesn’t become a recurring theme for the Bobcats’ fourth quarters.

9. The Bobcats did a nice job on Kevin Garnett, who went for a pretty quiet 10 points (4-12 FG) and 7 rebounds.  Everyone took a turn on Garnett, including May, Okafor, Mohammed, and Wallace, and he never got going.  But Kendrick Perkins was able to pick up the slack, with 15 points (7-14 FG) and 12 rebounds to effectively negate Garnett’s quiet game.

10. Next game: Monday night, hosting the T-Wolves at the Cable Box, 7:00 PM ET.  With the starting five intact, and the team showing signs of rounding into shape, we should be expecting wins in these next two home games (T-Wolves and Thunder).

-E