Bobcats Get Gutsy Overtime Win In Phoenix

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Suns 1/26/10

Running diary-style, like usual for these late-starting Western Conference road games.

The Suns come in 26-20, in 7th place in the Western Conference.  Leandro Barbosa is out after wrist surgery, Grant Hill will sit tonight with a heel, Amare Stoudemire is on the trading block, and I’ll be trying to catch my Gamecocks as they attempt to hang with John Jesus Christ Wall and the Wildcats on ESPN during commercial breaks.  Let’s go.

In pregame, the crew mentions that Boris Diaw still owns a house in Phoenix, and got a haircut in his old hometown today.  What, you can’t get a decent buzzcut in Charlotte?

First Quarter

Well, this is not quite like the start of the last Bobcats/Suns matchup — just 10 days ago at the Cable Box the Cats blitzed the Suns right out of the gates for a 43-22 first quarter on the way to a 125-99 win.  Looking back, that was my favorite home game of the year so far.  Here it’s 33-26 Suns after one — and the Suns are already 4-7 from 3PT range.

Boris led the way for the Cats with 12 points on 5-6 FG in the quarter.

Second Quarter

42-36 Suns, 6:29 left and Amare picks up his 3rd foul and has to come out.  Time for the Cats to make a run, and Jack gets a 3-point play on the ensuing possession — 42-39.

Ooof, after his great start to the season, Nazr Mohammed has really come down to earth over the last week or two.  He’s 0-7 FG right now and I’m actually starting to look forward to seeing Tyson Chandler get back in the lineup.

Nice little kerfluffle between Raymond and Channing Frye as they draw double techs after jawing at each other.  I’d take Raymond in a heartbeat in that one.  Channing Frye does not want any of the pride of Latta, South Carolina.

Well, that’s no good.  Despite holding Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire to a combined 2 points/0-8 FG in the first half, the Cats find themselves down 54-48.  The Suns are 7-15 from 3-point range; the Cats are 0-4.

Meanwhile, Gamecocks/Wildcats is a far more compelling game at this point, despite my Gamecocks’ best efforts to slow the game down and ugly it up.

Third Quarter

Nice little 7-2 push to open the second half for the Cats as they cut the Suns lead to 56-55, but can’t get over the hump and the Suns (Dudley, specifically) hit another three.  And Nash with yet another three, 62-55, just like that.

And now its’ the Bobcats turn to heat up: Jack and Felton with back-to-back threes to cut it to one again — 62-61.  But again they can’t get over the hump with a turnover, then giving up a Stoudemire layup on the other end.

Huge highlight there as Gerald Wallace smokes J-Rich on a behind-the-back-dribble from the left wing, then stuffs it on Stoudemire, who wisely didn’t challenge.

Wow: 8 times tonight the Cats have either cut the lead to one or tied it, only to see the Suns respond with a three.  Amazing, just happened again with Nash, 72-69 Suns.  Suns now 11-20 from three-point distance overall.

Bobcats hanging around – Stephen Jackson with another basket (14 so far this quarter) to make the score 77-73, but Amare gets Gerald back on the other end with big dunk.

Cats can’t break through, but Suns can’t pull away, either. 83-77 after three.  By the way, Stoudemire gets 10 in the quarter, Nash 9 — shoulda kept my mouth shut.

Fourth Quarter

Cats again cut it to one early in the quarter, 83-82, and yet again can’t get a stop on the other end, as the Suns get two straight buckets to bump the lead back out to 87-82.  So frustrating…

And the Cats FINALLY do it.  6 straight to take the lead 88-87 and get a stop on the next possession.  Only to give up back-to-back Nash and Frye threes soon after.  Flip with a three to tie it back up 93-93 — back and forth.  Fun finish on the way?

Gerald Wallace fouls out on a shaky offensive foul call with 3 minutes left.  Ouch.  Derrick Brown will get some key minutes.

Nash killing us here, with a big three, a big two and a steal.  Suns up 3, 98-95 under a minute left.  Jack with a big three!!!  Tie game!!!  Dudley misses a potential game-winner at the buzzer and we’re going to OT – 98-98.  What a finish!

Overtime

The Cats get the first two buckets of OT on a Jack jumper and a Felton drive; meanwhile, they turn up the pressure on the defensive end, getting multiple stops.  Dudley answers with a three to make it 102-101, but Boris turns in two big plays in a row, hitting a runner for 104-101, then blocking Nash’s jumper on the other end.

Flip then gets a huge three for 107-101 to give the Cats some breathing room.  Free throws from here on out could ice it.

And that’ll do it.  Raymond hits 2-2 FT for a 114-109 lead with 9 seconds left; Nash can’t hit and that’s ballgame.

Postmortem

Huge win given the Bobcats’ struggles on the road this year (and combined with the Gamecocks’ upset win over Kentucky, I’ll be sleeping easy tonight).  Even bigger considering that the Cats didn’t ever have a lead in this game until under 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter.  The Cats are now 1-1 on the Western Conference road trip so far, and back to .500 overall (the wallpaper lives another day!).

In overtime, the Cats did a nice job of playing to their strength — they tightened up on defense and forced a couple of turnovers, which led to a big clutch three from Flip to seal the deal.

Jack ended up with 30 points on 11-23 FG/4-8 3PT with 9 rebounds, 5 assists.  Boris gets a double-double with 24 points/11 rebounds, and Gerald had 21/9 before fouling out.

The most glaring differences in the box score are turnovers (Bobcats 12, Suns 18) and points in the paint (Bobcats 54, Suns 36).  The Suns ended with 15 threes to the Bobcats’ 7, but the Cats made up the difference by getting 25-30 FT to the Suns 16-17.

The Cats get a couple days off; next game is Friday night at 10:30 PM ET against the Warriors.  I would say “let the slobbering over Steph Curry by the Charlotte media begin” but it already has.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Out-Sun Suns

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Suns, 1/16/10


.500

The Charlotte Bobcats decimated the Phoenix Suns 125-99 on Saturday night at the Cable Box, and it wasn’t really even that close.  AP recap here, box score here.  The Cats are now 19-19 overall and 15-4 at home.  They’ve won 7 in a row at home and 7 of their last 8 overall.

Unlike the night before, when the Cats played even with the Spurs before turning up the heat midway through the third, the Cats jumped all over the Suns right from the opening bell tonight.  Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson were both on fire.  It was 12-0 just 2 1/2 minutes in, 43-22 after the first quarter and 103-64 at one point in the third quarter.  Only a meaningless spurt by the Suns’ last-five-off-the-bench in the closing minutes brought the final margin under 30.

The Suns don’t play much D; the Cats took advantage of this while resisting the urge to do the same.  For the second night in a row, the Bobcats trapping defense took a top-notch, veteran Western Conference team out of their comfort zone.  The Cats scored 26 fast break points to the Suns 5 and scored 24 points off 15 Suns turnovers.

Gerald Wallace had 29 points (11-15 FG, 2-2 3PT, 5-6 FT) and 13 rebounds.  Stephen Jackson also had 29 points (11-17 FG, 4-6 3PT, 3-3 FT) and added 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals.  Perhaps most important is that both got to sit most of the 4th quarter with the game well in hand; Gerald played 31 minutes, Jack 29.

Everyone got into the act; literally.  Derrick Brown was in double-digits by halftime and finished with a career high 18 points.  Gerald Henderson played 10 minutes, and even Acie Law got a bucket in junk time.

Bullets

  • While attendance was not nearly the 17,574 that was announced, it was a really good crowd.  Probably the biggest crowd I’ve seen this season (note, I did not attend opening night).
  • So can we all stop clamoring for Gerald Henderson to get playing time over Flip Murray, or even Steven Graham?  Henderson’s 10 minutes tonight were not pretty.  I’m OK with him learning by watching at this point.  Jack and Flip are pretty good guys to learn from.
  • Both Jack and Amare Stoudemire scored their 10,000th career point tonight.
  • The Bobcats play next on Monday afternoon in a Martin Luther King Day special at 2PM ET.  Tyreke Evans and the Kings will be in town.

-Dr. E

Charlotte Bobcats @ Suns 2/24/09

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1. The Bobcats lose their third straight tonight, dropping a 112-102 decision to the Suns.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats fall to 22-35 overall and 0-2 on the Western Conference road trip.

2.  A particularly bad minute in the third quarter doomed the Bobcats in this one.

After Radmanovic hit threes on two straight possessions to pull the Bobcats to within 7 (at 63-70), Shaq had a three-point play.  Next time down the court Radman threw a bad pass that led to a Barbosa layup.  On the next possession, Felton turned it over, then committed a “clear path” foul on J-Rich, who hit both free throws.  Possession goes back to Phoenix after the “clear path” foul, and J-Rich hits again, drawing a foul.  The Bobcats bench draws a technical foul complaining about it (or maybe they were still complaining about the “clear path” call).  Nash hits the technical free throw; then J-Rich hits his free throw to complete a three-point play.

A six point possession to finish off an 11-0 run.  Ouch.  The deficit went from 7 to 18 in under a minute and the Bobcats never recovered.

3.  The Cats did cut the lead down to 5 (at 91-96) early in the fourth, but the Steve Nash responded with a three.  A minute later, a curious call put a bunch of nails in the coffin.  J-Rich missed a three, and then barely came down on the foot of Gerald Wallace, who had run out to contest.  J-Rich fell backwards lightly and drew the call on Gerald.  J-Rich hit all three free throws to push the lead out to 8 with under five minutes left, and Gerald fouled out on the play.

A few minutes before, Steve Nash rolled an ankle landing on a Bobcats’ foot after a jumper and had to leave to get retaped; one has to wonder if the officials were hypervigilant about that kind of play from then on, resulting in the call on Gerald — because it’s not a call that’s routinely made.

4.  This team has become a real chore to watch in the past week.  No one is playing well, and we’ve faced some good teams that have really exposed us.  Our offensive execution has been a major concern; it was a bit better tonight, but not dramatically so.  After having more turnovers than assists for the past two games, the Cats (barely) straightened that out tonight (20 assists vs. 17 turnovers).

5.  In his postgame comments, Larry Brown lamented the Bobcats lack of a star offensive player who gets calls and demands double teams.  Intersting, as Brown has undoubtedly been behind the personnel moves that have garnered a roster full of 5-10 million dollar role players (Diaw, Diop and Radmanovic) who are all signed for several more years.  Those contracts essentially preclude the team from making any kind of acquisition of such a star offensive player.

6.  Diaw and Bell both had pretty solid games against their old squad.  Diaw had a season high 27 points (10-12 FG) and 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks.  Bell had 23 (9-14 FG, 3-5 3PT).

7.  Emeka Okafor continues to play the role of “The Incredible Shrinking $72 Million Dollar Man” with a limp game of 8 points (2-9 FG, 4-8 FT), 6 rebounds and no blocks.  Granted, he was playing Shaq, and he’s also had to face Dwight Howard (twice) and Yao Ming in the last week, but would it be too much to ask to show some fire and/or leadership?  Or to rise to the challenge of playing the premier centers in the league?

8.  DJ Augustin continues to disappoint with lackluster play since returning from his abdominal strain.  Is he still hurting from that; or has he just hit the wall?  Either way, only four points in 18 minutes tonight.

9.  The Bobcats will try to get back on track with a match Wednesday night (10 PM ET) against one of the worst teams in the league, the Kings.  This will be no gimme, though, as the Bobcats are on the road, slumping, and on the second night of a back-to-back.

-E

WTF is going on in Phoenix?

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1.  First of all, they’ve clumsily broken up the most fun basketball team in recent memory (D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less squad).  They brought on the wrong coach, and fired him after half the season (eating $4 million in the process).  They’ve made Steve Nash borderline depressed by trading away his buddy Raja.  And now, depending on owner Robert Sarver’s mood (and portfolio) swings, they’ve been strongly considering trading their 24-year-old superstar, Amare Stoudemire.  (UPDATE, probably not.)  What a mess — Steve Kerr (and Sarver) are like bulls in a china shop.

2.  Then, they hosted a totally lame All-Star Weekend.  Granted, the crummy economy had a lot to do with this, but still.

3.  Now comes word that former Bobcat/now Sun Jason Richardson has racked up his second driving-related arrest since being traded.  Just one week after the trade, J-Rich got pulled over for a DUI.  But on All-Star night he got pulled in Scottsdale doing 90 mph in a 35 mph zone… with his 3 year old son unrestrained in the back seat!

What the hell is going on?  That J-Rich for Bell/Diaw trade is looking better by the day.  In all seriousness, I hope everything’s OK with J-Rich.

4.  And to top it all off, Suge Knight got beat up while in Phoenix for All-Star Weekend!

It’s like Bizarro World — what are they putting in the water out there?

-E

JRICH Scores 21pts in PHX debut

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JRICH Debut in PHX

Jason Richardson serenaded a previously apathetic crowd in his Phoenix debut Friday night, scoring 21pts on 8-16 shooting in a win over Orlando.  The local announcers were worshipping at the temple of JRICH even before the game started and by the time the game was over they were marveling at what possibilities thier new upgrade might bring.  The receiver of the biggest upgrade though, has to be Richardson himself.  There were passes from Steve Nash and Barbosa that must have had the former Bobcat thinking to himself, “Wait, its that easy?  You just penetrate, move the ball around and get open looks?”

No doubt Richardson will do well in his role as the team’s 3rd option- -a role he seems tailor-made for.  Best Baseline wishes to JRICH and the Suns.

-ASChin

TRADE!

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JRICH a BOBCAT NO MORE

UPDATED 12/10 10:38pm

The Bobcats traded Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley to the Phoenix Suns today for Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and rookie PG Sean Singletary.

SI.com story here.

ESPN.com story here.

Bonnell’s blog post here.

Pro Basketball’s post here.

ESPN.com Shootaround video breakdown here.

Hollinger review of the trade here.

Charlotte Observer: Scott Fowler’s reaction here.

Charlotte Observer: Tom Sorenson’s reaction here.

Arizona Republic: Bob Young’s reaction here.

What does this mean for the Bobcats?  More to come from Bobcats Baseline…

-ASChin