Bobcats, Brown Snag One From Sac-Town

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Jordan Watches Kwame Brown Beat The Kings

The Charlotte Bobcats pulled out a win in Sacramento to start their longest road trip thus far this season. Despite several bumbling moments late in the game, the Cats kept the Kings at arms-length throughout to notch a 94-89 win over their host in Sacramento.

AP Recap | Box Score

1st Half Notes

The game started ugly, with a lot of stoppages due to a hyped up referee crew. With so many whistles, neither team established a groove and both squads had to sit big men due to early foul trouble (Boris Diaw for Charlotte and DeMarcus Cousins for Sacramento). The first quarter was an exhibition in bad shooting.  The Bobcats could maybe blame this on time-zone difference, and the Kings could say that they suffered coming off of a back-to-back in Portland.  So, the poor shooting allowed for a load of rebounds and most of those came in the form of offensive boards for the home team.

Sacramento has a good reputation for their rebounding, and it appeared that Charlotte’s crew intentionally tried to avoid focusing on just battling them on the boards. The Bobcats were working to move the ball in transition and score quick, easy points. Had they stood around to the paint after shots, the game would have moved much slower and given the advantage to the Kings. This “strategy” led to a double-digit lead in the second quarter, where Gerald Wallace started to take over. Crash has been a bit “ho-hum” lately, and it was nice to see him drive to the hoop and finish strong. He’s capable of a lot more than he’s shown over the last month, and the team will need more of his presence on this road trip.

The Kings have some decent, young talent and guard Beno Udrih put a lot of work in to use his size against DJ Augustin early in the game. Tyreke Evans was covered by the taller Stephen Jackson, but scored easily to start. Surprisingly, Kings forward Jason Thompson showed a load of offensive ability and hustle during his first half minutes. Despite the bright spots for the Sacramento’s team, the Bobcats began to establish a flow on offense in the second quarter and Kwame Brown’s presence grew larger and larger on the defensive side of the floor. Things were rolling for the Cats to close the period, and it was great to see the guys building chemistry on the road trip as they talked and joked in the time-out huddles.

2nd Half Notes

Foul trouble was the theme for the start of the second-half of this game. Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera both entered the 3rd Quarter with 3 fouls apiece. Diaw quickly snagged his fourth and it seemed as thought the Frenchman had barely seen the floor during the match. Najera was plugged in at the Power Forward spot, and handled his promotion excellently by nailing an open 3-pointer and getting to line on quick cuts. Stephen Jackson was fairly quiet throughout the first 2 quarters and somehow picked up 3 fouls in less than 2 minutes of the 3rd period, leading the Bobcats into the penalty very quickly. Interestingly, Kwame Brown kept taking the ball up strong and could not get the refs to call foul on the Kings defenders. Finally, after several bumps and slaps, DeMarcus Cousins was called for his 4th foul mid-way through the 3rd. Despite the lop-sided calls, Brown never lost his cool and kept working hard on both ends of the floor to snag 11 rebounds in the period.

After a streak-for-streak match by the teams to open the final quarter, the Bobcats found themselves struggling to establish offensive consistency. Shaun Livingston showed a few nice driving, pull-up shots, but that wasn’t nearly enough to settle the Kings momentum. Carl Landry threw down a strong dunk (with the beat of Snoop’s classic “What’s My Name?” playing over the arena soundsystem) to spark a rally for Sacramento. During their push, the Kings enjoyed Nazr Mohammed’s lack of presence on defense and made him look even more “ugh” on offense.

Coach Paul Silas must have seen enough, and unleashed Kwame Brown onto Sac-town about half-way through the 4th. Quickly, Brown forced Cousins into his 6th foul and eliminated the Kings’ best big man. While Stephen Jackson stepped up, Gerald Wallace went quiet for many of the final minutes. The most consistent force for the Cats was clearly Kwame Brown. Teammates worked to feed him and he defended the paint, allowing them to run out on the break. Boris Diaw re-entered the game late, and kept up a habit of making unnecessary passes until knocking down a 3-pointer that should have been the “nail in the coffin” shot with 1 minute left. Unfortunately, Charlotte finished ugly and left the door open for the Kings to cut it close. The Bobcats settled down when it counted and survived the scare to finish the game like professionals, winning 94-89.

Loose Notes:

Kwame Brown had a big double-double with 13 pts / 18 rebs! In a post-game interview, Kwame credited Asst. Coach Charles Oakley for pushing him during practice.

Boris Diaw made some bad fouls to keep him on the bench. While Najera filled in adequately, this could have been a big game for Boris to exploit the youth and inexperience of the opposing youngsters for the Kings.

Michael Jordan made the trip to see his club in Sacramento. It was also reported that he was at the Blazers-Kings game in Portland the night before. With Rod Higgins at his side, is he doing a little personnel scouting or just supporting his team on their big West Coast swing?

Gerald Henderson never found a rhythm in this game. He had a really sweet hang-in-the-air scoop lay-up early in the game, but showed nothing else. Dominic McGuire failed to impress, as well. D-Mac was forced to guard a lot bigger forwards, so he did well just to survive.

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a topic that’s been on the minds of a lot of Cats fans – rebuilding. It seems like the savvy thing to say is that a small-market team needs to follow the “build through the draft” model to succeed. If the San Antonio Spurs are the the prototype of this model, it should be noted that they are an anomaly. David Robinson and Tim Duncan don’t come around too often, and the Spurs struck gold twice. When folks (and fellow Baseliners) preach the “rebuild through the draft” method, we need to realize that a team like the Sacramento Kings are the most likely outcome of this plan. I hear that the Kings were really good about a decade a go. What’s been going on out there since?  Hmmm?

Bonus Link : Recap By Sactown Royalty

-Mike

Bobcats Withstand Furious Kings Rally, Again

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Kings 1/30/10

Running diary-style as the Bobcats attempt to go 3-1 on the road trip.  Our Gerald Wallace “SarcophaCrash” t-shirts are moving fast, and we’re not printing many, so get one while you can!

First Quarter

The Bobcats jump out to an early 12-9 lead four minutes in, leading to the first timeout; but the Kings bounce back with an 9-2 run.  Diaw is going to have to sit for awhile after picking up his second foul — Derrick Brown in early.

And now Brown picks up two quick fouls — might see the Bobcats have to go small tonight.  The Kings go on lead by as much as 9, but the Cats finish the quarter strong to pull to within four, 33-29.

Both teams over 60% FG for the quarter, but a few too many easy baskets for the Kings early on and Cats made only 1-5 FT to account for the margin.

Second Quarter

Gerald Wallace starts the quarter off with a tough three point play, defensive stop, then another Gerald Wallace bucket in the paint to briefly take the lead, 34-33.

Derrick Brown with just his second three of the year — Cats 3-4 from behind the arc early.  Make that 4-5 as Flip drains another one to give the Cats a 43-39 lead into a timeout.

Gerald Wallace is up to 14 points, 7 rebounds already — 6-6 FG.

I missed the MLK Day matinee game in Charlotte between these two teams, so this is my first time watching the Kings.  I can see why they’re excited.  They really nailed the draft with Evans and Casspi, huh?  And why does everyone think that Evans and Martin can’t play together?  Evans is a powerful slasher, Martin is a shooter — that’s perfect.  Even better when you want to bring in a backup PG and go small.

It’s 56-54 Cats at the half in a fun one — not much defense being played as both teams are still over 50% FG.  Too much of Kevin Martin and his fugly shot: 21 points on 7-14 FG/3-7 3PT/4-4 FT.  Tyreke Evans has been quiet (2-4 FG) — not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Nazr with 13 points on 6-8 FG and Flip with 10 on 4-6.  Cats need to watch the turnovers — 7 already in the first half.

Third Quarter

Boris Diaw back after sitting most of first half with two fouls — almost forgot about him.  Naz kicks things off with a bucket off a post move.  Now Felton steals an entry pass to Evans, Jack with a sweet feed to Wallace on the delayed break for a layup, and Donte Green fouls Boris underneath trying to get over to challenge the layup.  Boris hits the free throw for the odd “three-point-play by two different guys.”  Another miss for the Kings and Gerald Wallace gets a runout dunk.  7-0 run for the Cats to start the half, 63-54 now — Kings need a timeout.

Gerald Wallace now limping badly, causing enough concern that Larry Brown calls a timeout.  But apparently Crash just banged his knee and is fine.

Raymond Felton is working so hard to deny Tyreke Evans the ball — and he’s been very effective at it so far.  Evans can’t get going.  Cats get a turnover as Hawes can’t get a good angle on the entry pass to Evans and throws it away.  Strong work by Ray-Ray.

Bobcats stretch the lead to 10, 69-59 on Gerald Wallace free throws.  Crash is up to 22/8 halfway through the third.

And a 20-footer by Wallace extends the lead to 73-59.  Kings need a TO and a momentum shift as they are starting to wilt.

Gerald Wallace is killing the Kings — gets a backcourt steal and draws a clear path foul.  Hits both free throws, then Jack splashes a jumper.  Stop on the other end, alley-oop to Gerald to push the lead to 20, 79-59.  Another Naz bucket, another alley-oop to Gerald and the Bobcats are running the Kings out of the building, 83-59.  28 points on 11-13 FG at this point for Gerald, still stuck on 8 rebounds, though.

Wow, Cats win the third quarter 34-13 and will take a 90-67 lead into the fourth.  About as good of a quarter as you’ll see.

Fourth Quarter

Would love to see Gerald and the rest of the starters get some rest tonight, but remember, these are the same Kings that made a huge 4th quarter run and pushed the Cats to the limit back on MLK Day.  Then again, that was mostly Tyreke Evans’ doing, and Paul Westphal seems to have buried Evans on the bench in the second half tonight.

Right on cue, Gerald comes out: 35 points on 12-15 FG/2-3 3PT/9-11 FT and 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals.  Can’t say enough.  That’s two straight games with 30/10 for the All-Star, on a West Coast back-to-back to boot.

Cats go a little cold without Gerald, but still maintaining a healthy cushion as the Kings aren’t exactly lighting Arco Arena on fire either.  Now Gerald is back in.  Come on, Larry — not only are you needlessly risking an injury, but I’m going to have to retype his line!

Oh no — Kings on a 15-3 run and cut it to 95-82.  Cats have missed 11 FG in a row.  Now 12 in a row and Kevin Martin with a three to cut it to 10, 95-85.  Very aggravating.  Gerald and Jack should be icing their knees by now.  What is it with these Kings and their fourth quarter runs?

Flip finally stops the bleeding with a bucket for the Cats, but then fouls Casspi on the way to the basket on the other end.  Casspi with a three-point-play to cut it to 97-90, 2 minutes left.

Now it’s down to 4, 100-96 with 35 seconds left.  Felton with a layup, and then Jason Thompson misses two free throws, Bobcats end up with the ball after a scramble.  Exhale, Cats lead 102-96 with the ball, 17 seconds left.  Felton inexplicably misses two free throws, but it’s too late for the Kings anyways.  Kevin Martin misses a desperation three, Gerald gets the ball, draws a foul and hits one of his two free throws to end it.  103-96 Bobcats final, box score here.

Postgame

Whew, that was a needlessly heart-stopping fourth quarter.  The story should be about Raymond Felton shutting down Tyreke Evans and Gerald Wallace adding to the legend of Gerald Wallace.  But the lead has to be the fact that this one was almost a clone of the MLK Day game.

The difference was that tonight’s big fourth quarter run was led by Sergio Rodriguez, Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson, not Tyreke Evans.  (Late in the game, word came down that Evans was sitting because of a bruised hip, not Raymond Felton-itis.)

In his post-game interview, Gerald commented that he thought the Cats went into “prevent mode” trying to run out the clock too early.  I’m not sure I agree; with a 22-point lead with 9 minutes left and the opponents’ star player on the bench, you should be able to give the starters some rest and salt the game away.  Maybe Gerald is right, though.  These Kings are young, good, and foolish enough to not know that they’re supposed to lay down when down 22 with 9 minutes left.

Gerald’s final line: 38 points (season high) on 12-18 FG/2-4 3PT/12-15 FT, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks.

The Cats improve to 24-22 overall and 3-1 on the road trip, which guarantees them at worst a 3-3 trip with 2 games left.  Things get hard, though, as we’re at the Blazers Monday night (10 PM ET start) and the Lakers (10:30 PM ET start) Wednesday night.  Brandon Roy will reportedly be out Monday night, but Andre Miller will be coming off a career high 52.

-Dr. E

Let’s Be Realistic

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Five trade scenarios that make sense for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Other Team

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Despite a 2-2 record going into Friday night’s home game against Atlanta, the ’09-’10 Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in a desperate situation.  They can’t score points and the last time I checked, scoring points was somewhat crucial to winning basketball games.  As fellow Baseliner Dr. E has pointed out in his recaps and comments recently, as bad as the Charlotte Bobcats were on offense last year they are even worse this year, ranking dead last in point per contest at 79.8.  To put this into perspective, the 29th team (Milwaukee) is averaging 8 more points per game than the ‘Cats @ 87.7.

This isn’t breaking news as anyone who has suffered the great misfortune of watching the opening 4 games will have come to the same conclusion: This Team Needs to Make a Trade.

First off, a couple of GROUND RULES:

  1. Trades must be logical for both teams, with a slight handicap given to the Bobcats trading partner as we fans tend to view our own players through the eyes of a new parent.  Must make sense for the trading partner first, Bobcats second.
  2. I used the ESPN.com Trade Machine as a reference and the screenshots have been pasted below.  The engine that powers the ‘Cats salary cap situation seems to be a little off so ignore the team’s cap number at the top.  All trades work cap wise for the Bobcats.
  3. The Bobcats have three primary needs: add more consistent scoring, depth at the backup PF spot, maintain or reduce their salary situation.  Trades will reflect one or more of those goals.

So without further ado…

1. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gana Diop and Raja Bell to the Detroit Pistons for Rip Hamilton

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Why Detroit Makes the Trade:
This one might seem lopsided at first glance.  Why would any team take on Gana Diop’s bloated, full-mid-level contract?  If the Pistons make this trade now, they’ll be close to $20 million under the salary cap this summer once Raja’s deal comes off the books.  Combine this with the fact that the team already has a nice young three guard rotation of Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon and that makes Hamilton not only expendable but, by essentially shedding half of his contract, the Pistons will automatically put themselves in a situation where they can bid against anybody for any player come July.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
On arrival, Rip would become the most dynamic and consistent outside shooter in team history.  His veteran leadership and ability to hit shots in the 2nd half are EXACTLY the kind of thing this team needs.  He’s a solid defender and knows Coach Brown’s system.  And even though Rip is already 31 years of age, his game looks to age well ala Ray Allen or Reggie Miller.  From a financial standpoint, the Bobcats are essentially trading away the albatross contract of a guy who is not playing (Diop) and receiving a bigger contract for a guy who will start.

2. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace and Nazr Mohammed to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson, Ronny Turiaf and Speedy Claxton

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Why Golden State Makes the Trade:
Are you kidding me?  S-JAX wanted out of Oakland a month ago and the team replaces an older disgruntled player with a younger, better one.  Warrior Fanatics will absolutely love Wallace in Oak-town.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
There are already rumblings of Jackson coming to Charlotte but I don’t buy the Diaw rumor for an instant.  Boris is the most important piece currently on the Bobcats roster and everybody knows it.  In a situation where Stephen Jackson, a natural SF, comes to the Queen City, Gerald Wallace is the most likely man headed out of town.  While Jackson is a more gifted offensive player, the Bobcats would lose a lot defensively without Wallace.  Not to mention the fact that no one has been more loyal to the Bobcats organization than Crash over his 5+ seasons with the team while Jackson has just demanded a trade from the team that just gave him $35 million.
The reason that Charlotte makes this trade is because Turiaf is a HUGE upgrade at the backup PF/C spots and his toughness and rebounding will be needed when the team battles bigger squads like the Magic, Celtics and Cavs.
The other main reason for making the deal is money.  Claxton would come off of the books this summer and S-JAX’s cap number is lower in every year of his contract than what the team would be paying Wallace.
Bobcats give away a more talented player but get back quantity and cap space?  Sounds like a realistic Bobcats trade to me.

3. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rudy Gay and Marko Jaric

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Why Memphis Makes the Trade:
Wallace is still young enough to grow with the Grizzlies’ young players (O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Hasheem Thabeet, Marc Gasol) and play right away with their veterans (Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson).  Perhaps more importantly, the trade would save the cheapskate Grizzlies at least $7 million next year as Rudy is likely to sign an extension that would pay him at least $9 million per season.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
First off, let me say that I would feel absolutely terrible sending Crash into a situation like this.  He deserves better.  Unfortunately, it is a business measured in wins and losses and this trade makes a ton of sense for the Bobcats.  They get a younger, more skilled player in Rudy Gay to play the SF spot and would only have to pay Jaric one more season for their troubles.  With the salary cap potentially going even lower this summer, the ‘Cats could probably net Rudy (who’ll be a Restricted FA) for around the same money that they’re currently paying Wallace.

4. The Charlotte Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trailblazers for Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster

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Why Portland Makes the Trade:
The Trailblazers have been hot on Wallace for a couple of years now and there were multiple reports of a deal like this going down as recently as this past summer.  You could see why.  Wallace is the perfect fit for the Blazers in that he’s a reliable 3rd or 4th offensive option who doesn’t need plays called for him as he gets his points on sneaky post-ups, drives and put-backs.  He’s great in the open court and could be the final piece that puts Portland in the Western Conference Finals.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
Surprisingly enough, Hollinger’s Analysis really liked this trade for the Bobcats, adding 9 wins to the Bobcats total.  Webster and Outlaw aren’t household names but they are both young and talented and could start for the ‘Cats immediately.  Both guys can shoot it and financially the Bobcats would come up WAY ahead, with Outlaw’s deal expiring this summer and Webster’s reasonable $5 million a year deal extending only through ’11-’12.  In an alternative scenario, the Bobcats could include Derrick Brown in the deal and ask for Nicolas Batum in exchange.  This gives the team insurance if Outlaw decides not to resign and adds yet another talented Frenchmen to the squad.

5. The Charlotte Bobcats trade D.J. Augustin, Raja Bell and Nazr Mohammed to the Sacramento Kings for Kevin Martin and Beno Udrih

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Why Sacramento Makes the Trade:
Money.  The once proud Kings are in dire financial shape.  The team is going nowhere on the court and (probably) somewhere else off of it.  Between now and the summer of 2013, the Kings owe Martin $45 million.  During the same time frame, Sacramento owes Udrih (a decent backup PG) $27.5 million.  Making this trade with the Bobcats would save the Kings around $60 million over the next four seasons and provide them with a young PG to run the floor with rookie phenom Tyreke Evans.

Why Charlotte Makes the Trade:
An additional $60 million in salary commitments.  Any chance in hell that Bob Johnson would say yes to a trade like this?  I say yes and here’s why: Kevin Martin is currently averaging 30pts per freakin’ game.  And he’s only 26 years old.  And this is not a fluke as Martin has averaged over 20pts per game over the past three seasons.  Sure, his defense doesn’t exactly scream “Larry Brown Caliber” but Kevin Martin would be the perfect medicine for a team desperately looking for some offense.  As bad as Udrih’s contract is, he’s not a terrible backup PG and combined with Felton, would make a nice platoon with Martin in the backcourt.
Oh, and Hollinger’s Analysis adds 13 wins to the ‘Cats win total if a deal like this were to go down.  Thirteen more wins is a good thing, right?

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Kings 3/18/09

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1.  The Bobcats get another crucial win at the Cable Box on Wednesday night, beating the lowly Kings 104-88.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats go to 30-38 overall, 20-16 at home.

2.  So all day long on Wednesday, I’m having the hardest time remembering who in the hell the Bobcats are playing.  This never happens.  The Pacers?  No, that’s Saturday night.  T-Wolves?  No, already saw them earlier this year.  I know it’s a bad team from the Western Conference.  Grizzlies?  No, saw them already, too.  Finally found a minute to get on the internet and check — ah yes, the Kings!  That’s how forgettable the Kings are this season.

Meanwhile, my wife does know it’s the Kings and is desperately trying to find a way out of going.  As she later told me, she called her female counterpart of at least three couples we’re acquainted with throughout the day, trying to give up her ticket to one of their husbands.  No dice, so she begrudgingly went with me, then proceeded to play Scrabble on her iPhone the whole game.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008-09 Sacramento Kings!

3.  And as if the Kings weren’t already the least talented team in the league, they had to play without Kevin Martin tonight.  Martin apparently came down with a viral illness, and stayed back at the team hotel.  Nocioni was also out, so the Kings started Beno Udrih, Rashard McCants, Fransisco Garcia, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes.  I think my season ticket neighbor said it best: “I don’t know any of these guys!”

4.  Despite that, the Kings kept it much closer than they had any right to.  The Cats played a disjointed, ugly game and allowed the Kings to hang around far too long.  The league’s top sourpuss, Rashard “Born To Be Hated” McCants started in Martin’s place and took advantage of the extra PT with 30 points on 10-20 FG and 5-8 3PT.  However, as the Bobcats began to pull away in the fourth quarter, McCants turned an ankle on a drive and had to leave the game.  After that, the Cats finished the game on a 14-6 run to put it away.

5.  Here’s a good quote from Sacramento’s head coach Kenny Natt that sums up the Kings:

“We just have to get better production all around”

The Kings shot 39%, were outrebounded 52-28 by the Cats and played Calvin Booth for 12 minutes off the bench.  Ouch.

6.  Gerald Wallace led the Cats with 25 points (6-13 FG, 2-2 3PT, 11-11 FT!), 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.  He also caused those in attendance to have a collective heart attack when he went down in a heap in the second quarter.  He was trying to cut into the lane on a drive, but planted awkwardly and went down suddenly, holding his left knee.  The entire team surrounded him in concern while the crowd murmured.

The way he went down conjured up thoughts of achilles or patellar tendon tears, but when it was clear that he was holding his knee, my worries switched to ligament injuries.  Eventually Wallace was able to get up, bear weight (good sign), and limp to the locker room.

Then, much to no one’s surprise, Crash came out for the second half as if nothing had happened.  He did look a bit gimpy and tentative, but not dramatically so.  Postgame, the word is that there was talk of sending Wallace to the hospital at halftime (presumably for an MRI), but he refused and will instead have said MRI done on Thursday.  Right now, it’s just being called a sprain.

7.  Funny moment in the second quarter: Diop gets fouled, barely grazes front rim on his first free throw, completely airballs the second, drawing groans from the crowd.  Couple of minutes later he gets fouled again.  First free throw attempt results in his second straight airball. The crowd, obviously aware of his struggles, begins cheering.  Louder, louder still, then almost wildly as his teammates offer a little extra encouragement.  Finally, the cheers pay off as Diop drains the second free throw.

8.  One last word on the Kings.  My scouting report on rookie Donte Green:

#20 Green: likes to shoot — check that, loves to shoot

9.  Former Tarheel and current Pittsburgh Steelers freakshow kicker Jeff Reed was courtside near the Bobcats bench.  Unfortunately for Deadspin, he did not destroy any paper towel dispensers (that I know of).  He seemed to be enjoying the game in a pretty low-key manner.

10.  Milwaukee lost, but Chicago won on Wednesday night.  Thus, the Bulls stay solidly in the 8th spot; the Cats and the Bucks are now tied, 1.5 games back.  Next up for the Cats is a back-to-back at Toronto on Friday night, then back home hosting the Pacers Saturday night.  Gotta have both of ‘em.

-E