The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Golden State Warriors 101-90 in front of another sellout crowd at the Cable Box on Saturday night. AP recap here, box score here. Charlotte’s favorite son, Stephen Curry, led all scorers with 25 points for the shorthanded Warriors in a losing effort, while DJ Augustin played his second straight solid game in leading the Cats with 19 points on 7-10 FG in just 28 minutes.
The game was tight until the waning moments of the third quarter, when the Cats were able to open up a small lead. In the fourth, the Cats turned up the defensive intensity and the Warriors wilted. Gerald Wallace blocked 3 shots in the deciding final frame as the Warriors were only able to manage 14 points.
The Bobcats dominated the paint against the defenseless, run-and-gun Warriors, who trotted out some guy named Chris Hunter to play center and jump-shot their way to 38% FG for the night. The Cats outrebounded the Dubs 60-36 and scored 56 points in the paint. Good thing, too, because the Cats didn’t take good care of the ball — 19 turnovers.
For the umpteenth time, Boris Diaw came oh-so-close to netting the first triple double in Bobcats history: 14 points (6-10 FG), 12 rebounds and 9 assists.
Gerald Wallace’s night ended about a minute early when he was ejected for throwing an elbow at Anthony Tolliver under the basket in the waning seconds of the game. It was a strange incident — very few people caught it in the arena, and Gerald was upset that the ref ejected him for it. I didn’t notice it live at all, and it’s not in either NBA.com or ESPN.com’s online video highlight packages, but apparently it was replayed on the television broadcast a few times. Bonnell blogged in detail about it. Gerald had 19 and 10, by the way.
Gerald Henderson played first half minutes again tonight; he was not as productive as he was Friday night, but still decent. Hopefully this will continue, as it allows Larry Brown to give Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace a little extra rest and get away with it.
Stephen Graham had two nasty baseline jams in the second quarter, so naturally the NBA.com highlights contain neither of them, featuring instead a pull-up 18 foot jumper he hit.
Best line I’ve seen in awhile: Andris Biedrins — DNP Athletic Pubalgia
The Hawks could’ve done us a solid tonight and beaten Miami, but it didn’t happen. The Cats are 30-31 and a half game back of 8th place Miami at 31-31. Which leads me to…
Next game will be the biggest game of the year so far. Tuesday night Miami will be in town for a 7PM ET start at the Cable Box. A head-to-head matchup against the team that’s a half game ahead of you for the last playoff spot — you can’t ask for anything more.
Lots of talk from the Warriors broadcast team about Stephen Jackson coming back to Oaktown. Boos aplenty. Wow! The Bobcats have their very first heel!
Great moment midway through the first quarter which illustrates Larry Brown’s impatience with Rookies. Derrick Brown checks in to give Diaw a breather and proceeds to fall asleep in transition defense. LB yanks him after thirty seconds and inserts Stephen Graham for the rest of the quarter. Talk about a short fuse.
Ronny Turiaf checks in later in the quarter and starts making plays immediately. I wrote in my Power Forward Trade Column recently that Turiaf would be a great fit as a backup four in Charlotte and he’s proving me right again this evening with lots of energy on the offensive glass, a few nice put-backs and one crazy steal and almost finish on the fast break. If the ‘Cats could get him for Henderson and Law straight up I say make the deal immediately.
Just caught the box score for the Philly/Lakers game. Anybody realize that both Primoz Brezec AND Jason Kapono play for the Sixers? Me neither, maybe because they both logged DNP-CDs tonight. Somewhere Bernie Bickerstaff is crying.
My first look at Steph Curry as a pro. I wasn’t sure how he was going to turn out but thus far I’m impressed. He has some pass-first PG acumen; is an As-Advertised great long range shooter and is a little bigger than you’d think. Will probably play just as long as his pops (16+ seasons) in the League and be at worst a Steve Kerr role player on a contender.
Starting the 2nd quarter now and we have a SPECIAL GUEST ANNOUNCER joining the Warriors’ broadcast crew. “Oh my gawd King, it’s that sadistic bastard Paul Heyman!” No, it’s Dell Curry! DC4THREEE! chats about Steph’s success, the JAX trade, Monta Ellis’ dependence on his right hand, Steph’s mouthpiece fetish (possibly inherited from watching so many Crash games in CLT), the light, skin-tight kevlar body armor that so many players are wearing these days (including Gerald Wallace), etc, etc.
I’m actually starting to think that Dell could be a great ambassador nation-wide for Charlotte Pro Basketball. Sort of an Obama/Brad Daugherty gene splice. He’s no Mike Gminski yet but a strong upgrade from Adrian Branch/Henry Williams.
Who is that tall, bearded guy on the Bobcats bench wearing a suit? Did Sean May lose a bunch of weight and go all Joakim Phoenix on us? Oh, that’s the guy we traded our franchise center for, Tyson Chandler. Tyson Chandler everybody! Woo-hoo!!! Sixteen games and counting!
Starters (especially JAX and CRASH) playing a ton of minutes in the first half. D.J. comes in to to give Raymond a blow. Augustin nails two straight threes and looks confident. Then he loses that turnover to Run Ronny Turiaf who embarrasses him with the aforementioned steal and almost finish. Still, D.J. with a respectable eleven points in the first half.
Bobcats up 65-59 at the break.
JAX and CRASH haven’t come out of the game yet and Boris has only been out a minute. The announcers for GS are talking like this is a good thing. I’m a little worried about all of this wear and tear.
RADMAN in the house! Not sure if it’s a Bay Area inspired thing but Vlad has suddenly started looking like the lead singer from Loverboy.
Also, Warriors fans must be in secret agony every time they see Vlad get toasted by JAX. Golden State really didn’t get enough for him in that trade. Kind of like when the Bobcats play the Hornets and Emeka Okafor drops a double-double on Tyson Chandler’s replacement.
I’m a Boris Bee-Liever but Diaw has been hit or miss all season and I’m starting to think that he’s gonna be the player that the team moves if you believe Bill Simmons’ assertion that the ‘Cats are making another trade before the deadline. Carlos Boozer for Diaw and change? A Felton/Jackson/Wallace/Boozer/Chandler lineup is a tough matchup for anyone in East. I’m warming to the idea.
Back to Raymond for a second, I feel like his beard is under-discussed. Baron Davis started doing this and his game went to the next level a few years back. Not to mention Magic in the 80s. I’m calling on Ray to push it at least as far as QuestLove before the Playoffs. Felton is playing so well these days (16pts on 6-10, 6asts tonight) that I’m a little worried that the Lakers are gonna sweep him up this offseason to replace Derek Fisher. They’ve liked him since the ’05 draft and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ray running the point next year for Kobe and Phil.
Nazr Mohammed has played a total of 17 minutes and Gana Diop’s nearing a DNP-CD himself. Larry Brown chooses to go small with JAX and CRASH alternating playing the four and Diaw taking Center. Bobcats up by double digits in the Third.
WOW. Andris Biedrins with a Turiaf-esque steal of a Felton pass and then a one-on-none fast break JAM. Let’s talk about Biedrins’ hair for a second. Is he purposefully trying to invite Dolph Lundgren comparisons? He basically looks like any Eastern European tough guy involved in a Russian Arms Deal Gone Bad. I’m gonna search later for photographs of Andris wearing a grey sportcoat and black undershirt.
Monta Ellis looking every bit as you’d expect. Scoring at will. Driving the lane and hitting jumpers from the outside. Looks like a young Iverson. Warriors hot all game shooting 56% from the field but can’t secure a rebound while the ‘Cats aren’t doing too bad themselves at 50%.
CARTIER MARTIN SIGHTING! Yes, Cartier “That’s Really My First Name” Martin just checked into the game and put one up over JAX. He then gets hyper and starts launching threes – all errant. Thanks for the memories, Cartier.
Fourth Quarter and the Bobcats look like the better team. They blow the game open and build a 20 point lead with just a little over six minutes left and are killing the W’s this half with a 20-9 rebounding advantage (CRASH lead the way with 13 to go along with an impossibly quiet 30pts).
JAX with a killer 3 (bringing his scoring total to 30), D.J. with another killer three and for some reason Larry Brown decides to leave his starters in with 6:30 to go with the ‘Cats well ahead and the Warriors trotting out Cartier and Anthony Tolliver (GS’s answer to Stephen Graham).
Warriors make a mini-rally but come up short and LB empties the bench with 2:20 to go in the game. Gerald “The Sequel” Henderson comes in and looks as though he’s never even seen a basketball before, missing free throws, slipping on the floor, throwing the ball away. Doesn’t matter. Bobcats in control and take this game 121-110 to go 23-22 on the year while improving to 5-17 on the road.
Heading into the 2009 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats find themselves in some pleasantly unfamiliar territory. Not only does the team have a lot of proven NBA talent, they also have fewer question marks than ever before. With the team very likely to re-sign PG Raymond Felton, the Bobcats will begin the ’09–’10 NBA season with last season’s starting lineup intact with all but Raja Bell entering their prime playing years.
The Bobcats second unit also brings back at least three quality regular rotation players – one of which, second-year point guard DJ Augustin, could start for a half-dozen teams in the League.
Alas, as good as it is in Bobcat-land this offseason, it’s still not perfect. There are several major personnel questions that the team must address during the draft and free agency.
1. $104 million, 5 years, 3 players and 0 All-Stars
The Bobcats have committed a whopping $104+ million over the next five seasons at the center position alone. This wouldn’t be such a nightmare if Yao Ming or Dwight Howard were patrolling the middle but the platoon of Emeka Okafor, Gana Diop and Nazr Mohammed hasn’t even a single All-Star selection amongst them (though Okafor may finally break through this season).
It’s nice to have depth in the middle but a small-market-for-sale franchise like the Bobcats can’t have this type of money tied up at one position. There’s been a lot of conjecture recently about the “inevitable Nazr Mohammed trade” but maybe we’re all looking in the wrong direction. Given Larry Brown’s series of thinly veiled rips on Okafor in the local media added to the fact that Emeka’s status as a base year compensation player is now over and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Okafor was shopped hard this offseason. He’s by far the most attractive of the group – with a decent contract, good game and a great attitude – and given his large cap number could be the center of a major deal that returned another big-time player, ideally a dynamic shooting guard with a shorter contract.
Maybe a deal that sends Okafor to Detroit for Rip Hamilton makes some sense with Diop stepping in as the starting center.
In fact, if an Okafor trade like this were to happen during the summer, you could argue that the earlier Diop trade was part of the organization’s greater Master Plan. Of course, that would require you to believe that the the Bobcats organization actually plans things.
2. Ten seconds left on the clock, who’s the man?
Well, it sure as hell shouldn’t be Raymond Felton. We appreciate your effort Raymond, seriously, we do. But your inability to get anything done on the offensive end when it matters most was so damn infuriating that it almost made us forget about all the things that you are good at.
If a deal like the one mentioned above can be worked out in order to bring in a ballsy scorer in from another team then the Bobcats should pounce on it because their current lack of a crunch-time scorer will be the difference between them winning 38 games or 50 games.
If a trade can’t be worked out, then there’s only one option. Iverson. Period.
There’s nobody in this draft (save maybe Stephen Curry) who could be the man this year. It may require the team to part with Okafor, DJ Augustin or their lottery pick but a go-to scorer is their most pressing need for certain.
3. Who backs up the Phoen-Ex Suns?
Charlotte’s strong playoff push ostensibly ended with Raja Bell’s calf injury in early April. With Bell out, the Bobcats had to play too small and too young with DJ Augustin and Cartier Martin. The Bobcats clearly need to find some depth at the 2-guard and if a trade like the one mentioned above can’t be made then the Draft has a few quality options.
The Bobcats can either hope one of the “upside” guys like Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan falls to them at pick twelve or try to hit a solid double with Duke’s Gerald Henderson (the “Emeka Okafor” of shooting guard prospects). We’ll have more in-depth previews on all of the collegiate players in our next post.
The same goes for the other ex-Sun, Boris Diaw. The Bobcats were lucky that Boris stayed healthy following the trade because there wasn’t much depth behind him and the team seemed to have finally made good on their promise not to play Gerald Wallace out of position. Coach Brown seemed to be impressed with Pittsburgh’s Dejuan Blair during his recent workout with the team and the big man could be there at twelve when the Bobcats pick.
We also shouldn’t forget the other overweight power-forward with bad knees, Mr. Crab Bread himself, Sean May. If the team and May’s agent can come to an agreement in which May hits the unrestricted market and re-signs with the team for a league minimum one or two year contract, then a motivated, healthy Sean May could be the nice surprise in ’09–’10.
It’s all good.
The fact that I can type “The Bobcats are only a piece or two away from 50+ wins” with a straight face means that there has been considerable progress. Putting aside five years worth of questionable draft selections, poor business decisions and overt cronyism, the ‘Cats find themselves now with one of the League’s best coaches, the promise of new ownership, a lottery pick, a little cap space and a few solid assets to play with during the offseason. For Bobcats fans, the future’s never been brighter.