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 Demolish Bobcats Behind Allen, Stifling Defense

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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Celtics, 12/1/09


Undo “4 Game Win Streak”

The Charlotte Bobcats were defeated by the Boston Celtics, 108-90, on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats had their 4-game win streak rudely broken in the process of falling to 7-10 overall.  Everything that had gone well in said streak seemed to go to pot in this one, as the Celtics outplayed the Cats in every facet of the game.

This one was close for the first couple minutes, as Stephen Jackson posted up Ray Allen for an easy score on the Cats first possession.  But soon after, Ray Allen hit two threes and Gerald Wallace picked up two fouls and the game was never the same.  Wallace sat the rest of the first half while the Celtics developed a 20 point lead that the Cats would never meaningfully dent.  Obviously, it’s more important in Larry Brown’s mind’s eye to not pick up a third first half foul than it is to prevent a blowout from developing.

(Inexplicably, after sitting Wallace while the game was being decided in the second quarter, Brown left him out there late into the fourth quarter, guarding Garnett, while down 20 points, risking injury — someone please explain this to me).

With Wallace derailed by foul trouble/LB’s refusal to put him back in the game, Stephen Jackson couldn’t get the offense going either.  He was busy getting run through screen after screen by Ray Allen, who went on to shoot 6-9 FG/5-6 3PT/10-10 FT for 27 points, with 5 rebounds and 5 assists to boot.

The stats aren’t pretty: the Cats shot 40% overall, 18% from 3PT and 69% from FT, while the Cs shot 55%, 59% and 90% respectively.  The Cats were outrebounded 38-34 and out-assisted 24-13.  Poor effort tonight, which was really disappointing after last week’s improved play.

I tweeted something to this effect during the game, and it bears noting again.  The Bobcats are a very good defensive team under Larry Brown, one of the best in the league, in fact.  But the Celtics are on a whole other level defensively — the Cats literally couldn’t get anything going.

Bullets

  • Nazr was probably the most effective offensive weapon for the Bobcats tonight, going 6-10 from the field for 16 points (we’ll try to ignore the four missed free throws).  Plus, Naz stepped up in Garnett’s face after drawing a tough offensive foul against him.
  • The fading of DJ Augustin continues to be most concerning to me.
  • Decent minutes for Gerald Henderson in the blowout win.  He hit 2-4 shots for 5 points in 13 minutes.
  • Next game is Friday night at New Jersey, followed by a back-to-back Saturday night in Charlotte against the 76ers.

-Dr. E

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 @ Celtics 4/1/09

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1.  An absolutely painful choke job by the Bobcats as they lose 111-109 to the Celtics in double OT.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats fall to 34-41, 1.5 games back of the idle Bulls for the 8th playoff spot.

2.  Going to try to keep this short tonight as I’m a bit under the weather.  The bottom line is that the Bobcats, as they’ve done numerous times in the past, played the Celtics very tough tonight.  So tough, in fact, that they led 85-73 with 8:48 left in the fourth.  Eddie House caught fire and brought the Cs back, but the Bobcats still led 93-85 with just over two minutes left.

However, the Cats would go completely cold while the Cs turned it up a notch, scoring 8 straight to pull into a tie with a chance to win at the end of regulation.  Fortunately, Rondo missed a runner at the buzzer to allow the Cats another chance in overtime.

3.  In the first overtime, the Bobcats (after a half dozen chances) scored with 20 seconds left to go up by three.  But Ray Allen got a wide open look for a three at the elbow and drained it to tie the game up.

Raja Bell got a decent look at a potentially game-winning jumper at the buzzer, but missed.

4.  In double-OT, the Cats had the lead (109-108) and the ball with under 20 seconds left.  However, Felton couldn’t manage a better shot than a wild, tightly contested, jumper/floater while falling away from the basket from 13 feet.  Needless to say, he didn’t make it.

The Cs took the ball the other way with 10 seconds left.  The ball ended up in Paul Pierce’s hands on the elbow, with Diaw guarding.  The Cats had a fould to give, but didn’t use it.  Pierce easily blew by Diaw, forcing Wallace to close the gap.  Problem was, Wallace had been guarding Ray Allen in the corner.  Pierce found Mr. Shuttlesworth, who drained the three for a 111-109 lead.

The Cats called timeout to set up a final shot with two seconds left.  Larry Brown called a winner, as Raja Bell got a great look at a three-pointer from the elbow.  However, it was just a bit strong, and bounced harmlessly off back rim.

5.  Not that I’m counting, but here’s Raymond Felton’s shooting from the last 12 minutes of the game (2 minutes of regulation, plus both overtimes): 2-7 with 2 missed layups for four points.  I’ve said this before, but I guarantee you that every team’s advance scouting report on Raymond Felton has a line like this somewhere in it: “Let him shoot, let him try to beat you, especially in end-of-game situations.”

Yet Larry Brown was insistent on calling a 1-4 flat play for Felton at least three different times in the last 12 minutes.  This is the play (also known to old Larry Johnson/Charlotte Hornet fans as “Dallas”) whereby the “1” holds the ball in the frontcourt with the “4” teammates evenly spaced flat along the baseline.  The idea is that the “1”, given all that space, can break his man down and get a good look, get fouled, or maybe even get to the basket and force help for an easy assist.  Felton didn’t get any of these any of the three times I remember the play being run.  It was painful to watch.

(And if you want some statistical support for the Bobcats’ overreliance on an inefficent option in cruchtime situations, check this TrueHoop post from a couple of days ago).

(And by the way, Felton’s complete line for the game was: 14 points (on 7-20 FG, 0-0 FT), 12 assists vs. 2 turnovers, and 4 rebounds).

6.  Gotta call out Diaw as well.  Over the last 14 minutes of the game, here’s his line: 2-5 FG for 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 turnovers.  Four turnovers in crunch time from one player, who is supposedly a maestro with the ball.  His bad passes drive me nuts.  The local media treat him like some kind of passing savant, excusing the turnovers by claiming that his teammates “are still learning” how to play with him, but that doesn’t jive anymore.  Maybe he needs to learn how to play with his teammates — or just how to stop imagnining passing lanes that aren’t really there.

7.  Seven games left, five on the road:

Fri, Apr 3    Miami    7:00 PM
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

Pretty much need six of them to have a shot.

-E