The Bobcats Season – Over and Out.

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What An Unexpected Ride

This past season for the Charlotte Bobcats served up an entertaining mixture of speculation, anticipation, disappointment, surprise, frustration, and a general sense of curiosity. Heading into it, the team had made a deal to unload the financial burden of Tyson Chandler and had no Draft selections to boost their roster. The team’s training camp began with real questions around DJ Augustin’s ability to lead the team as a starter and the growth of  Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown in their second year in the NBA. It was assumed that Tyrus Thomas would build upon his success from a previous late-season run after arriving in Charlotte, and most thought he would eventually replace Boris Diaw as the team’s starting power forward. The Bobcats looked to have their strongest players, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, on the wings and aimed to make it through the year with a cobbled assortment of players at the center position.

That was all pre-season talk, though. Larry Brown was trusted to take the team further than the quick sweep we witnessed in their first Playoff appearance. If Larry saw a roster need that had to be filled in order to reach the post-season, it seemed only logical that the organization would find a way to give him what he demanded. Eventually, that logic evaporated as the team seemed to lose games and lose interest in running Larry’s system. Interestingly, the only roster acquisitions that seemed to satisfy Brown were the minor free agent signings of Dominic McGuire (D-Mac) and Shaun Livingston. Otherwise, the Hall of Fame coach was expected to plug in the likes of Matt Carroll, Kwame Brown, Eduardo Najera, and Sherron Collins to forge a better on-court product.

Stumbling Out of The Gates

Early on in the season, it seemed that the Bobcats were just taking a little longer to “mesh” than most other squads. Those following the team could have argued that the level of talent on the roster was deeper than ever before. With so many middle-tier players on the payroll, it appeared that the front office had planned to either make due with a roster below the salary cap or leave some flexibility to make a trade to improve the team. As the Cats stumbled in the standings, speculation over the next move certainly followed. Coach Brown had set a pattern in place since his arrival. If he didn’t like what was happening with the team’s play, he would find a way to shake up the roster. Fans knew this and it was expected that a roster move was sure to happen. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, or DJ Augustin that were shipped out. The organization decided to send Larry Brown out of town.

While it was easy to support Brown when the team had experienced an increasing level of success, the Bobcats management seemed to catch on to the “Next Town Brown” template. With the team struggling and playing less and less entertaining basketball by the week, it only felt naturally to look to the future. Raising the question of “How does this team get better” probably shook GM Rod Higgins to face the tough truth that the Bobcats were financially frozen and their on-court product was on the decline.  Perhaps, the team reserved a bit of blame for Larry Brown. Overall, it seemed that the team’s performance had slid far too much and improvement wasn’t going to be delivered by the old, griping, and disheartening coach. The Cats had no money to really improve the team, and needed to begin to develop their young guys – players that Larry Brown had glued to the bench.

New Energy

The arrival of Paul Silas brought an equal dose of curiosity and excitement to the team. After recurring blow-out losses under Brown, the Bobcats quickened the pace and let DJ Augustin play to his strengths. Surely, Michael Jordan had to have felt some comfort in his decision to switch coaches. Not only had the team become better and more entertaining on court, but the younger talent on the roster had begun to show improvement and playing time under Coach Silas. The improved play of DJ Augustin was astounding, and it just seemed to be a bit confusing as to why no one had seen this from the young guard until Brown’s departure.

As the Bobcats had crossed the mid-point of the season, they were finding a way to improve their record despite their ailing big men. Gana Diop was shelved for the season with a tough achilles injury, and Nazr Mohammed seemed to have run out of luck with several nagging injuries. The All-Star break came and went for the team, as the club had no participates (Rufus doesn’t count) in the Association’s annual celebration of peak performers. So, most of the club returned from the short vacation to talk big about making a run at the Playoffs. Actually, that didn’t seem so outlandish at the time. Despite the 9-19 hole that they had dug for themselves to begin the year, Charlotte was sitting around the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. With plenty of games to go, it was expected that the club could rebound and save their season. Heck, some thought the Cats might even try to nab someone to help make that push before the trade deadline.

Well, things really went in the opposite direction. Once again, Michael Jordan’s Bobcats were active at the league’s trade deadline. Though, this time around the team wasn’t looking to acquire talent.

The Trade

So, what would you have thought if someone had told you back in September that during the 2010-2011 season the Bobcats would fire the best head coach that the franchise had ever seen, trade away the All-Star that fans loved, and still close the season with Stephen Jackson on the roster? Well, it played out just about like you would have thought. The team was shaken apart, as to leave Larry Brown’s “vision” in the dust and adjust for the future. Gerald Wallace was about as heartbroken about being traded to Portland as his Charlotte fans were. And, good ol’ Cap’n Jack made it through the season with a load of technical fouls, showed his clutch abilities throughout it all, and his body fell apart in late March after carrying the team for most of the year. Oh, and the guys that were expected to help Stephen Jackson never did come through as the Cats surrendered to the Draft Lottery by April. Tyrus Thomas was unable to return from his knee surgery and fellow power forward Boris Diaw brought it once in every four or five games. The team limped through the end of their schedule with Kwame Brown as the only true center.

Oh, and what would you have thought back in the Fall if someone told you that the Bobcats would be starting Kwame Brown? Surprisingly, he wasn’t as bad as you would have thought. Let’s not consider him the franchise center, but he was valuable for the team on both sides of the floor.

Quiet Close to the Season

So, the Bobcats headed down the last weeks of the season with a fading hope of another Playoff appearance. Though, what may have been more important for the team was the manner in which their younger and newer players seized the opportunity in the playing time given to them by Paul Silas. During the final games of the season, Gerald Henderson was often  the team’s primary offensive option. He showed his strengths, while learning to become an efficient guard. Clearly, young Gerald had big shoes to fill with the departure of “Crash” Gerald. Luckily, the team didn’t see him recoil.

Looking forward, Charlotte has a lot of decisions in front of them. Clearly, the organization has made a concerted effort to enter the “rebuilding” stage. The off-season should provide the team with the ability to improve as they hold a load of salary cap flexibility, young talent, and Draft selections. Still, it’s apparent that the team has holes, and will work to fill them as they build. Next season’s rookies can’t be expected to carry the team, and the free agent class isn’t all that “star-studded” this summer. With Jordan’s efforts to free up his options, he’ll want to make the most of each of his assets whether it be Draft picks, cap room, or promising players on the Bobcats roster. The 2011-12 season could just serve as a stepping stone for the club as they continue to develop, grow, and wait for the right additions via free agency. So, a short season due to a lock-out might just be exactly what Jordan and Co. are forecasting. If the rebuilding Cats are going to be really bad next year, let’s hope it’s only for 40 games or so.

-Mike

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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How The Bobcats Can Improve : Escaping The Nottery – Ver. 1.0

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Charlotte Bobcats Offseason Checklist

Ah, the Eastern Conference. ‘Tis a place where a bad team can go 2-9 in a late season slump and still be only a game or two out of the Playoffs. The current Race for Eight bears more resemblance to peewee football hot potato than a professional sports exercise. Someone please just win some games and put us all out of our misery.

Which brings us to the titular “Nottery,” a place where franchises go to die: Not good enough to be good and not bad enough to get good. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan understood this more so than any other when he made the controversial Gerald Wallace trade last month. Good isn’t good enough and if you want to get better, sometimes you gotta get a little worse.

SECTION 1. WHAT WE GOT

Before we head out to the supermarket, we should take a look in the cupboard. As poor as the Bobcats have been playing recently, the team does have a few assets.

a.) D.J. Augustin

Has clearly shown that he can be a top 15-20 starting PG in the league. Can shoot and has figured out how to score from in close. Defense isn’t as big of an issue as current rules have made it nearly impossible to defend the position. Proved that he could shoot his way out of a slump. Still on his rookie deal.

b.) Stephen Jackson

Volatile and playing too many minutes for his age, Jackson is nonetheless the Bobcats’ best player. He’s the only guy who can consistently create his own shot and when he’s on, can single-handily carry the team to a victory. His contract is probably untradeable until at least the summer of 2012 so look for JAX to remain in his role with the team next season.

c.) Tyrus Thomas

Needs to prove that he can stay healthy and stay focused but when he’s in physical and mental shape can really change the game from a defensive perspective. Solid rebounder and excellent shot blocker who has a nice mid-range jumper. Bobcats have invested a ton of cash hoping the Tyrus experiment works out. Best case scenario: Starting Power Forward for the next five seasons. Worst case scenario: Severely overpaid role player.

d.) Gerald Henderson

Very good defensive guard. Very athletic. Shown promise as a cutter but jump shot is still erratic. Henderson is another unknown. He’ll probably never be a great long ball threat but if he can develop a consistent mid-to-long range shot could become a very good player.

e.) D.J. White, Dante Cunningham (RFA), Shaun Livingston

Three youngish rotation players who have shown flashes of potential. White seems to have the most upside and is still on his rookie deal. Livingston has managed to carve out a place in the league after destroying his knee a few years ago. Cunningham should keep improving now that he’s playing the three position full-time.

Total it up and you have seven players who’ll most likely be suiting up for the Bobcats next season. That’s half a roster. Combine them with two first round draft picks in June and the CAP CRUNCHERS (Gana Diop, Matt Carroll, Eddie Najera) and you’re down to just two roster spots available to improve the team.

SECTION 2. WHAT WE NEED

Augustin, Jackson, Thomas and Henderson will most likely return as four of the team’s starters. Livingston, White and Cunningham will be solid contributors from the bench. That still leaves some major needs:

a.) Men in the Middle

As pleasantly mediocre as Kwame Brown has been, he’s an unrestricted free agent come July and the team will need to make a major upgrade if it wants to compete. Gana Diop is currently the only center on the roster and he was bad before the season ending achilles injury.

b.) Bench Scoring

Augustin, Jackson and (if he develops a jumper) Henderson can handle most of the scoring as starters but the team lacks any sort of big time scoring presence from the bench. The Bobcats will need to find someone capable of taking off some of the scoring load.

c.) Stars

Either through the draft or through crafty trades, the Bobcats will need to find a way to bring in a guy who’ll move the turnstiles and put down game-winning buckets.

SECTION 3. THE DRAFT

Charlotte will most likely pick around #10 and #18 in the draft barring a improbable Bobcat Playoff berth, lottery miracle or a late-season collapse by New Orleans.

The ‘Cats will should have the opportunity to nab players like Kentucky’s Terrence Jones (Iggy-type SF), John Henson (long defensive SF), Texas forwards Tristan Thompson (poor-man’s Elton Brand) and Jordan Hamilton (O.J. Mayo, Jr. check that, DrE is saying Rashard Lewis or Danny Granger, Jr.). Kentucky point Brandon Knight (Jordan Crawford-like combo guard) and Moorehead State’s Kenneth Faried (Reggie Evans with upside) should also be on the board.

It’s by all accounts a weak draft and the ‘Cats would be better off not drafting for need. The center crop is thin but fortunately there are enough solid SF candidates who could be brought in to eventually replace Stephen Jackson a year or two down the road.

SECTION 4. FREE AGENCY

No one knows what the new CBA will look like next season (if there is one) but I’d be willing to bet that the Bobcats’ situation won’t change much. Once all of the expirings come off, the team will sit at around $49 million in salaries, around $10 million south of this year’s cap. Add in the two first rounders along with re-upping Dante Cunningham and the team should be at around $54 million.

Obviously, the remaining $6 million wouldn’t be enough to bring in a big-name star (even if there was one in a weak FA class) but the extra wiggle room may help them pull off a deal or two IF the team is lucky enough to import a decent center from another team.

Free Agent Centers 2011:

a.) DeAndre Jordan.

Made big strides this season but the high-flying athlete probably doesn’t make much sense to pair with a similar player in Tyrus Thomas. Clippers also seem intent on keeping him.

b.) Marc Gasol.

Will likely command around $10 million/per on the open market. Gasol is a lower rent version of his All-Star brother but is only 26 and could develop into top tier center himself given the right circumstances. He’s a restricted and the Griz have stated that they’ll re-sign him but given the historical ownership thriftiness and the fact that Z-Bo’s deal is also up makes me think that Gasol could be had with a big poison-pill offer sheet. To make a move for Gasol, the Bobcats would likely have to find a taker for Boris Diaw’s $9 million expiring contract first (see TRADE section).

c.) Kwame Brown.

Performed adequately for the team as a starter this season and could be brought back as a backup if the price is right.

d.) Other Potentially Interesting FAs.

Big Baby Davis, Nene (ETO), Shane Battier, Carl Landry (who they’ve tried to sign before), Sam Dalembert, Craig Smith, Brandon Wright.

SECTION 5. TRADE

Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw, Boris Diaw. Did I mention Boris Diaw? I just can’t see any way the Frenchman stays on the Bobcat roster come training camp. Only on the books for a final season, in a contract year (so will likely be motivated – see Chandler, Tyson) and has proven that when he gives a crap can be a game-changing presence in the lineup. All these factors combined with the Coach’s obvious dissatisfaction in Diaw’s inconsistent performances will likely land Boris in another uniform next season.

Potential Trades:

a.) Boris Diaw to Toronto for Leandro Barbosa.

Colangelo wanted him last summer and they need size. Both players on expirings, Bobcats trade big for small but also shave another $1.4 million off the books to go after a FA. ‘Cats get the bench scoring they’ve so desperately needed.

b.) Boris Diaw to LAClippers for Chris Kaman.

Again, both players on expirings. Clips get the third big to rotate with Griffin and Jordan. Bobcats take on an additional $3.2 million and risk Kaman’s recent injury history but if it works out, then they have a high-scoring starting center for the first time in franchise history.

c.) Boris Diaw + Future First Rounder to TeamX for cap space.

In this deal, the ‘Cats could find a team with cap space in need of a versatile big and compensate them with either this year’s late first rounder or Portland’s pick in 2013. The ‘Cats would then have around $18 million to pursue a free agent target like Marc Gasol.

SECTION 6. WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE

Whenever the ’11-’12 NBA season starts, the Bobcats (barring major injury) will look quite a lot better than currently configured.

If the team simply follows the recipe above, they could trot out:

PG: Augustin/Livingston/Brandon Knight

SG: Henderson/Carroll

SF: Jackson/Jordan Hamilton/Cunningham

PF: Thomas/D.J. White/Najera

C: Kaman/Brown/Diop

The team would still be well under the $60 million cap and have enough flexibility the following summer to make a major splash in the vaunted Free Agent summer of 2012. No need to fret, Bobcats fans. I think MJ has a plan and if he follows it correctly, the team may well be in contention sooner rather than never.

Until Version 2.0…

Enjoy the Nottery, Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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The Bobcats After (a Little Over) the Halfway Point

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Charlotte Bobcats Mid-Season Status

I can’t believe it’s already past halfway through the NBA season. It just happened so fast!

Before I knew it, my expectations of another playoff season disintegrated to the dust that is hoping for a good lottery pick while remaining competitive and now just hoping that we remain competitive and can develop young talent.

So here we are, sitting on a record of 17-25 with a full, 15-man roster while one of our best players, Tyrus Thomas is injured for about the next two months. Let’s recap what’s happened so far before I talk about where I think we go from here.

The Initial Disappointment

The Bobcats dropped six of their first seven games in painful fashion, with three of those losses decided by four points or less. Contrasting that with the previous season which was noted for the Bobcats’ stifling defense, this team was an utter mess. The defense was all out of sorts, giving up three-pointer after three pointer and having weak a very weak interior despite decent rebounding. And the offense wasn’t much improved either, but what did you expect from former head coach Larry Brown? He has never had the greatest offenses. However, the Bobcats managed to have a mediocre record at the end of November (6-11) by beating some worse teams, including New Jersey, Minnesota, Toronto, Washington and Houston.

Individually, D.J. Augustin shone brightly as he proved his ability on the court in spite of a coach that obviously lamented his presence, significantly improving his scoring and his ball distribution while keeping turnovers minimal. Tyrus Thomas, though chained to the bench with extremely limited minutes, continued to produce and energize the team whenever he was on the court. On the flip side, nearly every other starter struggled. Boris Diaw was a non-factor, Stephen Jackson was decent scoring the ball but turned the rock over way too much and Gerald Wallace just didn’t seem to be his usual “balls-to-the-wall” self anymore, especially on defense. The bench was much improved from last year, but Larry Brown as is his nature, refused to play the young guys much, if at all. Plus, Gerald Henderson got hurt, so that didn’t help either.

In short, it was the most frustrating first couple of months I’ve ever experienced as  Bobcats fan.

Rock Bottom

Fans were beginning to get fed up with the under-performing team and the inability to turn the team around, even with baby steps. The team was inconsistent, going from high points like beating the Denver Nuggets to low points like losing to the Philadelphia 76ers by 18 points. The Bobcats lost to the Celtics by 29 a week or two later but I wasn’t as upset about that considering they’ve had our number since 2009. But then the poo hit the fan. The Bobcats lost by 33 to the Memphis Grizzlies and later to the Washington Wizards by 33, who were without John Wall and Gilbert Arenas and hadn’t received Rashard Lewis in their trade with Orlando. Then the Bobcats lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 18 heading into a long break over the holidays. Aaaannnnd Gerald Wallace was injured for an extended period of time. Wonderful.

Larry Brown was exceptionally melancholy in post-game press conferences, sometimes seemingly on the edge of a mental breakdown. Just a day after the Thunder loss, the Bobcats organization announced that the team and Larry Brown had mutually decided that he would resign as head coach. And so ended the Larry Brown era in Charlotte.

Beginning Life Anew

On the same day as Larry Brown’s resignation, the Bobcats announced that Paul Silas would be named the interim head coach. In the following days, the Bobcats announced the assistant coaching staff consisting of Charles Oakley, Stephen Silas and Ralph Lewis. Bobcats fans were re-energized as a past fan-favorite coach (Charlotte Hornets) returned home to hopefully become competitive once again, even if the team was struggling.

The team came out guns ablaze, winning their first two games and scoring more than 100 points – a rarity for the Bobcats under Larry Brown. The fire smoldered as the team lost a close one to Golden State and another loss to the hot-as-Brooklyn Decker Miami Heat. However, they showed heart in fighting with Gerald Wallace out once again. The Bobcats returned from the losses and rattled off a four-game win streak against Minnesota, Washington, Memphis and Chicago. They also played the tough as nails Boston Celtics closer than they had in about two years. The team continued to play tough, recording some hard-fought losses and also some hard-fought wins.

D.J. Augustin flourished as Silas permitted him to play freely as opposed to under Larry Brown. Boris Diaw was less turnover-prone, rebounded better and even recorded his first-ever triple-double as a member of the Bobcats. Kwame Brown was even much better, recording multiple games with 10+ rebounds. Gerald Wallace returned and was even worse than before, as he struggled to finish at the rim and shoot. But even worse than Gerald was Stephen Jackson who is shooting 35% from the field and 22% from the three and yet never taking fewer than 14 field goal attempts. And let’s not even touch on his problems with the referees.

In bad to worse news, Tyrus Thomas got injured with a torn left meniscus which would keep him out for about 2 months.

Where To Go From Here

The Bobcats are in the very curious position of being a bad team currently in control of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Do you go for broke and try to get the squad better in the present at the cost of getting worse in the future for the chance at a playoff run? Or do you admit that rebuilding is necessary and trade the players that have value for young talent, draft picks or cap space? Does Tyrus Thomas’ injury change those odds and thus what decision will be made? (I think so)

From what I think Jordan is like as an owner, I have to believe option one is what he would choose, unfortunately for the fans who hope for consistency in the future. As I mentioned before, the Bobcats have a full 15-man roster. This means we cannot call up any guys from the NBA-DL right now. I seriously doubt that a trade won’t come. Whether that’s Gerald Wallace or Stephen Jackson, I don’t know – but I think it’s likely that one of them are not on the team by the trade deadline. Nazr Mohammed’s expiring contract could accompany one of their contracts for the Bobcats to get some value in return. Regardless, with Tyrus’ injury and the team’s leaders struggling, I don’t think this team makes the playoffs. I believe they will be inconsistent, possibly getting small win streaks here or there but an ultimate lack of depth and talent across the roster will keep them out of the post-season. They should cut their losses now and try to trade for youth via draft picks or guys from other teams. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cap space won’t win championships for a small market team.

I’ve made my thoughts clear about what I think the team should do. What do y’all think?

- 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.

Bobcats Edge Sixers; Thomas Out 8 Weeks

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AP/Chuck Burton

The Bobcats rode a career high 31 points from DJ Augustin and 3 clutch buckets by Gerald Henderson to a 100-97 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night at the Cable Box.  However, news that Tyrus Thomas has suffered a meniscus tear and will be out for 8 weeks certainly casts a pall over the warm glow of victory.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

News filtered out before gametime that Tyrus had woken up from a post-shootaround/pre-game nap with a balky left knee and wouldn’t play.  Then during the game, news broke that an MRI had shown a lateral meniscus tear.  Thomas will presumably have arthroscopic surgery in the coming days; the early estimate is that he’ll be out for 8 weeks.  It’s unclear when or how the injury occurred.

This is a big blow for several reasons.  First, even though Thomas’s raw stats aren’t all that impressive (21 minutes per game, 11 points/6 rebounds), advanced statistics show that he’s arguably the Bobcats most efficient player (Hollinger’s PER has him at a team-high 19.7).  Second, though Thomas doesn’t start, he almost always finishes games and has proven to be a clutch player, especially on the defensive end.  Third, with Gana Diop already gone for the season, this makes the Bobcats precariously thin in the middle.  Boris is going to have to play some 5, and Gerald Wallace and Dom McGuire are going to have to pitch in at the 4.

Back to the game.  DJ came out red hot, hitting three three-pointers in the opening minutes, then repeatedly getting to the hole for layups.  He finished the first half with 25 points on 10-11 shooting.  Isn’t Jrue Holiday supposed to be a really good defender?  In the second half, the Sixers adjusted by trapping DJ, who was only able to add 6 more points to his tally.  Nonetheless, a masterful performance and career high for DJ, with 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 8 assists/3 turnovers to boot.

As you might guess, this one was pretty close the whole way.  The Cats led by 8 a couple of times, including as late as with 8:30 left in the fourth, but couldn’t put it away.  Without Tyrus Thomas, the Cats were going with a small crunchtime lineup of DJ/Henderson/Jack/Wallace/Diaw.  With around 4 minutes left, Thaddeus Young took advantage with two straight buckets off offensive rebounds to put the Sixers up one.

From there, Gerald Henderson emerged as the unlikely hero.  Henderson had already hit a jumper from the right elbow off a simple curl play earlier in the quarter.  Down one, 1:40 left, the Cats run the same curl play for Henderson, who hits.  Sixers miss, then Henderson hits again from the right elbow, this time after dribbling around a Diaw screen.  Cats up 94-91, under a minute left.

Henderson almost blows it on the ensuing Sixers possession by fouling Igoudala on a three attempt, but Igoudala only hit two of the three free throws to pull the Sixers within one.  The Bobcats stayed with the hot hand on the following possession, feeding Henderson on the right wing again on the same curl play — and he hit again to push the lead back out to three and effectively end the game.

The comfort level and confidence that Henderson had in the fourth quarter was really nice to see.  Especially because it looks like that, whenever feasible, the Bobcats will likely go with a small lineup including Henderson in the fourth quarter while they’re without Tyrus Thomas.

Notes

  • Best game from Nazr Mohammed in awhile: 15 points on 7-12 FG and 7 rebounds.  Obviously it would be nice if Nazr can step it up over the next few weeks.
  • Stephen Jackson’s shooting slump continues: 5-16 FG and 0-3 3 PT.  Quiet game from Gerald Wallace also: 6 points, 3 rebounds.  (/////Dr. E drums fingers on desk, looks around, wonders if anyone is thinking what he’s thinking.)
  • Bobcats are 17-24 — good for 7th place in the East currently.
  • Next game is Saturday night, at home, against the Hawks, 7 PM ET tip.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Too Clutch for Chicago

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Bobcats march into Chi-town and outlast the Bulls 83-82 in a game that came down to clutch baskets and poor officiating.  Charlotte improves to 16-24, Chicago drops to 28-14.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • The Return of Gerald Wallace! Crash has looked rather ordinary since coming back from his on again/off again ankle injury but finally returned to the Wallace of old in the fourth quarter which featured a nice 7 point personal run highlighted by a textbook Crash putback slam.  A thing of beauty.  I haven’t seen Wallace elevate like that all season.  Good to know that he still has it in him.  Only 13 points but 16 big rebounds for the captain.
  • Stephen Jackson made some love to pressure with a beautiful top of the key fadeaway jumper that put the Bobcats up 81-80.  JAX followed that one by nailing two critical free throws to close out the game.  Another one of those weird Jackson games where he killed in the first quarter and then disappeared for the 2nd and 3rd only to come back and close out strong.  Sensing a pattern here.  Both Gerald and JAX shot an ugly 5-14 a piece but made shots when it counted.
  • Derrick Rose ain’t bad. Sure, his 28 shot attempts were more than the rest of the Bulls starting 5 combined but he hit half of ‘em.  Rose is such an athletic force at the point guard position and combined with the League’s rule change to prevent the hand check, has forged him into a near unstoppable offensive force.  Really like what I’m seeing from Rose in just his third year.  Easily a top 5 PG and definite MVP candidate.  Rose’s ability to get into the lane and not only get off good shots but rebound his own misses and see over the trees for the open man is unparalleled.  Can’t think of any other current point with his type of advantages.
  • Considering the size differential, Rose should be eating D.J. Augustin alive during their head to head matchups but that hasn’t been the case over their first three years in the League.  Augustin does a good job of staying in front of Rose and the Bobcats do a nice job of switching a bigger defender on him when Rose does get by.  Augustin has also historically made Rose work on the other end and did a decent job of it again tonight by dropping 15 points and hitting half his shots.  Coach Silas tried to mix it up a bit with Shaun Livingston in the 2nd and 3rd but while he has the length, I just don’t think Shaun has the lateral quickness to stay with Rose thus far coming back from the knee injury.  Will he ever?
  • Solid efforts from Diaw, Mohammed and the Bobcats bench in a near ugly game that had each team shoot (barely) 40% from the field.  Kwame Brown continues to boggle the mind. Three VERY PRETTY buckets in the first quarter and he looked like he was going to repeat the double double he dropped on Chicago back in CLT but was constantly out of position on the defensive end so Silas yanked him early and he never really got going again.
  • Finally, the officiating. In the first half you had two TURBO OBVIOUS travels by D.J. Augustin (on a fast break 3 & 1/2 step scoop to the hoop) and Boris Diaw.  Then in the waning seconds of the game, the tide swung the other way as the refs handed the Bulls not one but two additional opportunities after turning the ball over with just 8.7 seconds left on the clock.  Embarrassingly inconsistent and I hope the tapes are being reviewed as I type.

The Cats may or may not make the Playoffs.  They may blow up the team.  One thing is for certain: The Paul Silas Bobcats are a hell of a lot more fun to watch than they were under his predecessor.  Keep it comin’ Sugar Bear.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Lose to Themselves, Hornets

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(AP Photo)

The Bobcats returned home on the tail end of a back-to-back and lost to the Hornets 88-81, sputtering to the end after keeping it close for most of the game. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson who though shot poorly (15 points on 15 FGA) had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hornets were led by a dominant offensive performance by David West who had 26 points on 19 shot attempts and 8 boards.

As I mentioned above, the game was close, most of the time, with the lead never going above 6 points for either team until the closing minutes. However, with 2:38 left in the game, Tyrus Thomas pulled down a rebound over Emeka Okafor and swung his arms, intentionally elbowing Okafor in the face. The refs gave him a flagrant-2 and two technicals which amounts to an ejection. Aside from throwing the momentum fully to New Orleans, it gave Emeka Okafor two free throws and also possession of the ball after the free throws. The result: a four point lead doubled and Bobcats never recovered and began fouling like a blind Darryl Dawkins. It turned a possible win into a more than likely loss.

Recap | Box Score

Tids & Bits (forever forgoing the Yays and Nays)

  • Gerald Wallace – Fifteen points on 5-13 FG with a perfect 5-5 from the stripe. Eh, not great. His three turnovers were major problems as were his four shots that were blocked. Gerald has always had a slight problem with inside shot selection, but getting blocked 4 times is some Earl Boykins stuff. Moving on, his three rebounds leave much to be desired, but it seems his slack was picked up by Boris and Jackson (9 and 8 rebounds, respectively) as opposed to the Hornets. The Bobcats did out-rebounded the Hornets 43-34 (numerical palindromes, hell yeah!). Oh and Gerald had an outstanding coast-to-coast play. So there’s that (see below).
  • Boris Diaw – He was mediocre on offense, with 9 points from 4-11 shooting with one from downtown. The real problem was his defense (or lack thereof) on David West. West’s mid-range ability frustrated Diaw the whole night.
  • D.J. Augustin – His ability to distribute continues to impress me, as well as his consistency (7 assists) and his lack of turnovers (1 tonight). If only his shooting could get more consistent. he shot 3-10 from the field tonight, but at least he did get to the line for 4 four free throws.
  • Kwame Brown – Kwame was excellent tonight, both on offense and defense. He effectively shut down Okafor for most of the game and he rebounded really well (14 rebs) and he was efficient on offense with 5-6 FG. Too bad his free throw shooting is still bad (2-5). But I can deal with that with the rest of his performance.
  • Tyrus Thomas – He was decent, with 2-6 shooting and 4-4 FT for 8 points and 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Buuuuuut, he did have 3 turnovers and he screwed up big-time with the elbow to Okafor’s cranium. The one major problem I have with Tyrus is his recklessness. I love that he jumps out of the building for rebounds, but with the ball in his hands, he can get too out of control. This leads to picking up his dribble on the baseline and trying to make a nearly impossible fadeaway jump shot or throwing the ball away on bad passes.

Anything I missed, Baseliners?

Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers, in Philadelphia on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with the early start time at 2 p.m.

- 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.

Bobcats Knock Off Bulls In Impressive Fashion

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their best win of the season in defeating the Chicago Bulls 96-91 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats are now 15-21 overall and 6-2 since interim Coach Paul Silas took over.  The previous five wins had only resulted in tempered enthusiasm due the the marginal quality of the opponents; but the Bulls are a bonafide contender, and the Cats took them down.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

The Bobcats came out red-hot to start the game.  Gerald Wallace looked good in his return from an ankle injury, DJ and Boris hit some early threes, and Kwame Brown (yes, seriously) dominated Kurt Thomas inside for 10 first quarter points as the Bobcats staked a 36-22 lead after the first frame. Now is a good time to note that the Bulls are playing without Joakim Noah, who’s in the midst of an 8-10 week hiatus after having surgery on a torn thumb ligament.

The Cats would go on to push that lead up to 17 early in the second, only to see it dwindle away.  The Bulls battled back behind Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer and eventually took a 80-75 with 8 minutes left in the fourth.  From there the Cats ratcheted up the defensive intensity and DJ, Jack and Tyrus Thomas took the game over.

The most finish went like this: with the Bulls up 89-88 with 1:15 left, Tyrus Thomas hit an insane prayer of a reverse layup.  Calling it a reverse layup is probably kind; seriously, check the picture.  That shot went in.  Next play down DJ forced Derrick Rose into the teeth of the defense where Boris Diaw was able to get a piece of his layup attempt.  Now under a minute to go and the Cats iso Stephen Jackson in the post on Luol Deng; Jack comes through with a pretty turnaround J to put the Cats up three with 30 seconds to go.

The Bulls take a timeout and come out with their best play: give it to Derrick Rose.  But as they had done numerous times before, the Cats seemed to sense exactly when to give DJ help.  Jack collapsed on Rose while Tyrus Thomas moved into the lane to cut off Deng as he flashed to the rim; Rose then forced a bad pass behind Deng that was picked off by Diaw.  From there, DJ hit a few free throws to finish it off.

And so the Cats move into the 8th spot in the East with this, their fourth straight, win.  If nothing else, this little streak serves as vindication for Jordan, who made the undoubtedly tough call to stand pat with the roster and fire Larry Brown instead of listening to his calls for more trades. Jordan gets bagged on a lot for his track record in the front office (rightfully so, and he’s still going to have to make more difficult decisions about how to rebuild this team eventually), but he deserves credit for seeing that the Bobcats are much better than how they were playing under Larry Brown and that they needed to exhale with a player’s coach at the helm.

Notes

  • So DJ really seems to get up for playing against Rose, huh?  22 points (6-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-9 FT), 12 assists/1 turnover for DJ tonight, while Derrick Rose was held to 17 points (5-17 FG), 7 assists/4 turnovers.  I seem to recall another time when DJ had a particularly stellar game against Rose — during their rookie year maybe?
  • Best game for Tyrus Thomas in a couple weeks: 30 minutes, 17 points (7-14 FG), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Nothing like the little charge you get from facing your old team, huh?
  • Tweet of the night goes to Bobcats AP beat writer Mike Cranston: “Suggestion on press row next CHA ad campaign feature Augustin breaking out of chains and Jack driving a bus over LB’s body”  Sounds like a job for Mike and/or Deesdale.
  • Next game is Friday night in Boston to face the Celtics, who used to bring out the best in the Bobcats, but lately have just owned them.  7:30 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

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