Bobcats Baseline Season 9 | Week 5 Recap

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The Bobcats decided to capitalize on the current “nostalgia” craze by playing throwback ’11-’12 Charlotte b-ball, losing their sixth game in a row and haven’t won a game in two weeks.

Monday’s 118-112 OT loss at home against Portland should have been the cure – the team was up 18 with five minutes to go before the defense took a nosedive. A 100-98 home loss versus New York on Wednesday saw the Knicks give Charlotte multiple chances to close out a win before J.R. Smith nailed his beautiful buzzer beater. As for last night’s drubbing in Brew-town? Total Silas re-enactment.

Defense and turnovers are the culprits. The Cats lost the turnover battle in all three games, were out-rebounded in two of them and have created a sort of identity crisis in the process. The Mike Dunlap squad we fell in love with last month featured a team of efficient scorers and scrappy defenders. Early December’s Cats have lacked both.

Thoughts on the Week

-Roster Shakeup. After his team pooped the bed in Milwaukee, Dunlap hinted at a possible lineup change. Expect to see Gerald Henderson re-installed at the starting two – he’s looked great since coming back from the calf injury – and look for Bismack Biyombo to start at either PF or C. Byron Mullens has been killing the team on D (you could make the argument that he single handily cost them the game against Portland) and his jumpshot hasn’t been falling with any consistency all season. Put those two together and I don’t know how you keep him in the starting five. The Cats still desperately need some rebounding and offense from the other big spot; hopefully Rich Cho can find a good deal and bring one in (Pau, Jefferson, Boozer, Milsap) before it’s too late.

-Threat of the Three. Watching Milwaukee effortlessly swing the ball around, finding the open shooter and subsequently nailing three after three, I was reminded of how and why the Bobcats offense stagnates so often in the half court. When your team is built around Kemba Walker and MKG – drivers with inconsistent jumpshots – you desperately need to surround them with deadeye shooters. Last night, Jeff Taylor couldn’t hit Lake Michigan. Mullens 35-ish percent shooting doesn’t exactly instill an opposing defense with fear. Getting Henderson’s reliable jumper back will help (imagine reading that three seasons ago), but the team desperately needs a big who can provide some sort of CONSISTENT offense between the basket and the three point line without killing them on D. If that’s via trade (see above) or via another year of tanking plus the Lottery (Isaiah Austin, Cody Zeller), the Cats aren’t going anywhere near relevancy until it happens.

-The Bugs are (almost) Back and almost always Black. The New Orleans Pelicans? Sounds great! Perfect choice! Truth is, I don’t care what they call them as long as Charlotte gets the Hornets name and history back. “Bobcats” fans are few, naturally masochistic and seem to not care either way while “Hornets” fans are many and rabid. I love how the local media are spinning this “$3 million” to re-brand thing like it matters. Gana Diop will be paid twice that for this season alone. Michael Jordan spends the $3 million and he’s hailed as a bona fide HERO in Charlotte for a long time. Sure, he, Cho and Higgins have to continue the recent strong work but that’s beside the point. The Charlotte Hornets mean something to the community. The Bobcats have not and will not. It’s not the economy, it’s not ‘nostalgia’ and for Muggsy’s sakes, it’s not about race. We are NBA fans! How can anyone accuse an NBA fan of being racist!!! That’s like accusing NASCAR fans as being anti-hot wing or Chris Collinsworth of being anti-bland. 90 freakin’ percent of the people we cheer for are black! We own clothing with their names on it! We love them! Bob Johnson the person sucked, sucks currently and always will suck. Why is it important that he be deified as the next Jackie Robinson when we have a perfectly great owner (who happens to be black) NOW. Get it through your thick, agressively PC, victimizing skulls: the vast majority of NBA fans are trans-race. It’s baked into our DNA. We would rather spend time with Kobe than Coldplay. It’s a fact. Jeez.

-ASChin


POLL : The Right Move for Byron Mullens

  • Start Him (43%, 24 Votes)
  • Trade Him (39%, 22 Votes)
  • Bench Him (18%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 56

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Another Half-Hearted Effort in Indy

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Bobcats sorta show up against the Pacers Friday night and kinda try to stay in the game until finally losing a winnable game against an okay Indy team 100-92.

AP Recap | Box Score

In the tradition of the Bobcats effort of late, I’m gonna sorta attempt this recap.  Basically the Bobcats are good enough to stay in games and win a few of them when they feel like it and aren’t bad enough to be blown out.  After tonight’s loss, the Pacers are 3.5 games up on the Cats for 7th seed in the East.  I’ll be honest, I really tried watching all 48 minutes of this game but the effort was just so poor that I found myself reading about Julian Assange and his amazing ability to have sex with a woman in her sleep.  Stephen Jackson should know something about this, Pressure ain’t been made love to in a long time.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • I hope word comes that Gerald Wallace (who quietly had a big statistical night @26/13) has been nursing some sort of nagging injury during the first month of the season ’cause he looks as slow and grounded as I’ve seen from him in six years.  Two mis-played finishes around the basket (one from a pass inside from JAX during the 2nd and one on a putback attempt in the 3rd) would have been highlight dunks just a few years ago.  The good news is that Crash is still driving and still working for boards.  I just hope that Wallace hasn’t permanently moved on from the explosiveness of years past.
  • The one major highlight for me so far this season has been watching D.J. Augustin transform into a real deal NBA starting point.  Even though he had a relatively quiet night (8pts, 5asts), you can see that he’s figuring it out fast.  I know that Raymond is having a career year up in NYC (albeit in D’Antoni-Land*) but within the next two seasons I’d bet that D.J. becomes the better all-around player…
  • …That said, it might be time for us to declare Raymond a natural born winner.  He did it on the collegiate level and pushed a mediocre Bobcats team to the Playoffs last season and is doing solid work with a 15-9 squad in Manhattan this season.  Just hope he doesn’t have to go against Jameer again in the first round.
  • 7 Turnovers for Stephen Jackson in this one.  Enough already.  You can’t have three players who handle the rock as much as JAX, Crash and Boris Diaw average 9 TOs per game.  In comparison, Boston’s big three of Pierce/Garnett/Allen only average 4.4 a contest.  Gotta put the blame solely on Coach Brown for this one.  You’ve had two seasons to figure this out and the team is still coughing up the ball at a horrendous rate.

You gotta believe that LB and MJ are working the phones in order to salvage the season.  The Playoffs are still within reach (barely) but the team will need to make a solid run by the All-Star break in order to separate from a crowded pack.  The current configuration just isn’t putting in the extra effort that made last year’s team overachieve.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

Required Reading

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ESPN’s John Hollinger Highlights Bobcats D

The Bobcats continue to garner some cautious praise in the mainstream basketball media, this time from ESPN’s NBA Insider, John Hollinger.  In Wednedsday’s PER Diem column, Hollinger breaks down just how the Bobcats are getting it done on the defensive end:

“…the Bobcats are the second-toughest team to get a shot against; oddly, for such a slow-paced team, Charlotte forces turnovers by the bushel. The Bobcats are second in the league in opponent turnover rate at 17.2 percent, second only to the breakneck, gambling Warriors. And here’s another surprise: Once we adjust for pace, the Bobcats are more likely than the Warriors to generate said turnover with a steal, with an 8.2 percent to 8.0 percent edge.”

Great read, check it out.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Make It Four In A Row, Blowout Wiz For First Road Win

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: 11/28/2009

Tonight’s game was masterful.  Everything Bobcats fans loved about the team during last season’s late Playoff charge was on full display against the Wiz Saturday night: Fluid ball movement, ball-hawking defense creating turnovers and fast breaks, shutting down the opposing team’s star players, excellent bench contributions, veterans and youngsters looking good.  Wow.  If you would’ve told me that the Cats would follow up last week’s stinker in Milwaukee with a four game winning streak (including a man handling of the Cavs) I would’ve thought you were high on Ambien and Johnnie Blue Label.

AP recap here | Boxscore here

1. The Nazr Mohammed Redemption

Nobody foresaw this.  How could you?  Call him a Hollinger fluke rule player, call him a flash in the pan but Nazr Mohammed is winning games for the Charlotte Bobcats.  Tonight’s 12pts and 5rbs in 12 minutes just added to the legend.  Mohammed’s near 23PER easily leads the team while his per game averages of 7pts and 4rbs in under 13.5 minutes are near mind-blowing when you consider his disappearing act last season.  The best part is that Nazr is doing this in a non-contract year, so you know that the new found effort must be genuine.  Sure, I’ll never forget the fact that he played so poorly last season that the team shot itself in the foot with the Gana Diop gamble but if Mohammed keeps this up, we might be looking at a legitimate 2-deep at the Center spot for the first time in a long while.

Big props to Larry Brown for his Tyson Chandler/Mohammed 2-back attack strategy as well.  Brown is savvy enough to know that those two are VERY DIFFERENT players and he’s distributing minutes based on the matchup.  Last night it was Ilgauskas and Shaq vs. Cleveland and tonight it was Haywood/McGee for the Wiz.  By not putting either of his centers in mismatches, Larry Brown is building a Voltron-like combo in the middle and it’s working beautifully.  The Cats got a combined 22 points and 11 rebounds out of the 5-spot tonight.

2. The Derrick Brown Buzz Is Real

The greatest second round pick in franchise history continued his excellent play against the Wiz.  The rookie dropped 10 points in just 16 minutes and was one of six Bobcats players to score in double digits.  As Dr E has reiterated in his recent recaps, these aren’t garbage time points.  Brown hit two big shots in the fourth quarter tonight to effectively stop a late 4th quarter run by Washington.  Brown’s willingness to play out of position at the PF spot along with his complete disregard for his lack of experience are the main reasons Brown is getting a lot more burn than lottery pick Gerald Henderson.  There have been several posts online in national and local forums stating how “Derrick Brown was the Steal of the Draft, while Henderson was the Biggest Bust” and this is just nonsense.  Yes, right now Brown is a better pro but Henderson has shown promise in limited minutes and the young man is stuck behind some of the team’s best players at SG.  Gerald’s lack of consistent outside shooting isn’t going to springboard him ahead of Flip Murray on the depth chart so The Sequel is going to have work hard on that aspect of his game if ever wants to see consistent burn this season.

3. Odds & Ends

A lot of fans are Down On Diaw but you have to remember that Boris has been playing hurt since training camp.  He’s on a bum ankle now and that followed a bout with back spasms and the original ankle injury this summer.  His 3-12 shooting was a bit of an eyesore tonight but I did like his 6 assists and 0 turnovers (see Diaw’s silky smooth touch pass alley oop to Tyson Chandler in the highlights – a thing of beauty).

Raymond Felton has quietly strung together a few solid games.  While’s his inside the paint scoring is as atrocious as ever, he’s cut down on the turnovers (0 tonight against 5 assists, PLUS 4 steals) and his jump shot is falling with a lot more consistency.  If he could just figure out how to make at least half of those driving layups and improve his 3pt shooting, dude could be looking at a nice new contract this summer.

TURNOVERS: At one point early this month, the Bobcats were leading the League in TOs.  They’ve committed just 20 in the past two games.  Now, that, sports fans, is the reason why they’ve won 4-in-a-row.

Gerald Wallace with another 14 rebounds tonight.  This puts him in the top 3 in the League in the category.  I’m with reggie on this one, if he keeps it up and the ‘Cats stay around .500 then there’s a GREAT CHANCE he’s going to Dallas during the Break.

Mike Miller didn’t play tonight for the Wiz but did provide a great amount of entertainment as he was dressed in a costume that could only be described as “One of the Gin Blossoms.”  Maybe Mike just pulled a “Reality Bites” | “Singles” Turkey Day Marathon and got inspired.

IN CONCLUSION:

Bobcats look like an entirely different team out there playing as a cohesive unit, swarming on defense and moving just 2 games below .500 in the standings.  They are currently in 7th place in the East.  Not a bad place to be heading into December.

Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans.

-ASChin

Bobcats Give One Away in Chicago

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Bobcats Baseline Observations: Charlotte @ Chicago 11/07/09

Aside from the fact that the Bobcats lost, this was easily their best road game of the season coming after blowouts @Boston and @Cleveland.  Charlotte had many opportunities to win this one but the ugly truth reared its head again in the 4th quarter as the Bobcats had no answer on the offensive end after the Bulls went on a late 3rd quarter rampage.  Chicago outscored the ‘Cats 27-17 in the third after being down 53-46 at the half.  With the team on the road, time dwindling and in need of some key baskets, the Bobcats turned to…  You guessed it!  Everybody Loves Raymond.

1. A Chunky Cucumber Blizzard

I finally figured it out.  Raymond, I mean.  Why he’s so divisive amongst the Bobcats faithful.
It’s because he’s neither terrible or incredible, rather he is sometimes incredible and sometimes terrible.  Often within the same 2-3 minutes span.  He’s kind of like ordering a Chunky Cucumber Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  You take a bite and you get all tasty ice cream and you’re like, “Wow!  That’s good!”  And then the next bite you get a nice sour, crunchy chunk of cucumber and you want to vomit.  But you are still hungry and in need of food and there’s always hope that the next bite will be cucumber free so you take another but you are not safe.  There is going to be more vomit inducing cucumber chunks in there somewhere.  Just wait.

Tonight was a quintessential Raymond Felton game.  Played very good defense, dished out 10 assists, hit a few key baskets when the team needed one but totally pooed the bed by going 5-17 from the field and looked “Emeka Okafor Level Uncomfortable” during the closing minutes of the game as he forced shot after shot.  When the Bobcats are down in the 4th and Raymond starts driving and forcing off-balance twos, just turn off the TV or leave the arena ’cause there is no chance that the ‘Cats are going to win.  I don’t even blame Raymond.  He’s just doing what the coach tells him to do and since the Bobcats have no other “scoring option” late in the game, then Raymond gets the nod.  Someone like Rip Hamilton or Ray Allen would do wonders for Raymond’s career.  Hopefully we get to witness something like this in the near future.

2. Turnovers, Turnovers

How can you possibly have a chance of winning on the road when you commit 17 TOs?  The Bobcats forced the Bulls into 21 turnovers and had they not, Charlotte would’ve been blown out of this game.  The Bobcats starting lineup (sans Tyson Chandler) came up with 8 steals and blocked three shots.  The team really hustled on defense for pretty much the entire game and I commend Larry Brown on instilling this team with an “A+ Level” defense.  They’d be a Playoff lock if they could just score consistently.

For all of the talk about Raja Bell and Flip Murray putting trade rumors to rest, the duo combined for 6-24 shooting from the field and a total of 16 points.  They probably aren’t as good as they were last night against the Hawks but they are definitely not as bad as they were tonight against the Bulls.  Ouch.

Joakim Noah torched the Bobcats tonight, btw.  When Noah nets 21pts and 16 boards you know pretty much what’s going on: Bobcats are sticking tight to the Bulls perimeter players and Noah is just jumping over and out-hustling Charlotte in the paint.  It also doesn’t hurt that both Chandler and Nazr Mohammed were both in foul trouble early in the second quarter so Joakim found himself boxing out Vlad Radmanovic a lot.  Watching Noah, you would think that he’s kind of the perfect Center for the Bobcats should the team ever pursue him in free agency or via trade.  He hustles, goes after loose balls and is an incredible offensive rebounder.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he wears a Bobcats uniform one day.

3. Accent-u-ate the Positive

Boris Diaw and Vlad Radmanovic put in solid offensive performances for the ‘Cats though Diaw’s 6 turnovers were a stain on an otherwise solid evening.  Boris dropped in 20pts, 7rbs and 5asts and the Radman looked comfortable behind the arc getting all of his 12pts there on 4-7 shooting.  And even though D.J. Augustin was noticeably M.I.A. during the game (0pts in 11 minutes), it is baffling why Coach Brown didn’t insert both D.J. and Radmanovic on the Bobcats last play of regulation.

Down three with just under 10 seconds to go and Larry Brown decides that a combination of Flip, Diaw (decent 3-point shooters), Raymond, Crash and Chandler (terrible shooters) would give the ‘Cats their best option to tie the game.  Completely inexplicable.  Raja, Radman and D.J. were sitting on the bench and inserting those guys into the lineup (playing Boris at Center) would’ve given the team a much better chance of sending the game into OT.  Not sure I understand the strategy there but hell, Coach Brown is a Hall of Famer.  What do I know?

IN CONCLUSION:

Bobcats play well enough to win but for a team that lacks a go-to or consistent scorer, they cannot afford to go into a 2nd half funk, especially on the road.  Barring a trade, the ‘Cats look exactly like what they are: a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team.

-ASChin

The Importance of Intangibles (or Turnovers)

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INTANGIBLES

Can Experience and Leadership Always Create Positive Results?

For the past year, there has been an emerging divide amongst the Bobcats fans. One camp views Raymond Felton as the undeniable leader of the team. The general view from this perspective rests upon Felton’s success as a college athlete and last season’s promotion to the starting point guard position. One of the biggest arguments for Raymond is that he’s shown leadership, “intangibles”, and holds much more experience than his backup. The other side of the Felton coin is given special attention by the so-called “Raymond Haters.” This group of fans sees Felton strictly for his statistics and his contribution to Charlotte’s losing nature over the course of his tenure with the team. The old bit about “the grass is always greener” seems to be the mantra of those hoping to see Raymond replaced.

Felton does provide leadership. For better or for worse, he stands as the struggling Bobcats’ most decisive offensive player. Unfortunately for the Tarheel, his pro career statistics have shown little to prove he should start at point guard at the NBA level. Like another local fan-favorite, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, Felton has received a load of praise about his demeanor, leadership in the locker room, and those ever-so-hard-to-describe intangibles.

Just like Jake, Raymond started off this season with a boat load of turnovers and very few passes leading to scores. The local football fans turned on Delhomme despite his great status as a teammate with stellar intangibles. The quarterback’s tendency to hand the ball to the opposition made him nearly impossible to watch. Now, the Bobcats seem to be enduring the same situation. Oddly, the expectations for this team are so low that no one is really that upset over the point guard’s high rate of failure.

NBA Starter or Reserve

Felton has shown promise as a solid pro player. He’s found ways to score and he’s been able to play defense up to Larry Brown’s high standards. The question mark for NBA fans of Charlotte is Raymond’s ability to truly lead such a desperate club as the Bobcats look this season. He’s shown grit, heart, dedication, and toughness but that only gets you so much.

So, one group of fans will inevitably ask “What’s so wrong with Raymond running the team’s offense?” The answer for this would be three-fold. First off, Felton is the leader of the worst offense in the NBA.  Secondly, a starter on an NBA team should not turn the ball over so much. Lastly, and most importantly, Felton’s hard work and intangible efforts still don’t make him a star basketball player (which is what this team needs).

It’s hard to define that frequent sports compliment of “intangibles” because you don’t really hear anyone talk about truly great players having “intangibles.” I don’t hear as much about Kobe’s “intangibles” as I hear about his scoring, his defense, and his rings. Having a lot of “heart” or determination might make the great players into legends, but it doesn’t do the same for those simply good-enough-to-go-pro guys. While folks used to love watching Jared Dudley overachieve here and there and score 4 or 5 more points than he should or get that extra “hustle” rebound, no one wants to build a team around Jared Dudley. When it’s time to make a deal, most of us would take a guy that can show us a career of solid stats over the guy that can only claim “intangibles.”

Bobcats Next Step

For Charlotte’s banker crew, let’s pose this question – “Are there any means to measure the value of a player, other than recorded statistics?” Looking at Felton’s numbers, would a speculator even bother considering this investment? Without a definition of the core intangibles that Felton seems to possess, it’s tough to have a proper debate about the pros and cons of #20 playing starting point guard for the Bobcats.

Next month, the Bobcats will have the ability to trade Felton (with his permission). Obvious needs have come to light early this season and the team will likely attempt to move any asset in order to improve.  Raymond Felton poses such a complex dilemma for the club.  The perpetually confused Bobcats organization must commit to a direction.  Will they reward Felton for his hard work or evaluate him based upon his production?

-Mike