Bobcats Defeat Raptors On Jordan’s Night

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Nazr Mohammed via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The Bobcats keep hope alive with a 97-91 win over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  Nazr Mohammed led the way with 18 points and 8 boards, while Tyrus Thomas returned to the lineup with 14 and 7 off the bench.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The first half was ugly.  In front of tons of empty seats, the Raptors went on a 20-2 run to take a 12 point lead in the first quarter.  Stephen Jackson was in foul trouble early and couldn’t get anything going as the Raptors took a 6 point lead into halftime.  The vibe in the arena was very negative; there was even some faint booing directed at the home team at a couple of points.

Halftime brought a ceremony inducting Michael Jordan into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  It began with a quick and dirty, but nicely done Jordan highlight video (NCAA championship game winner, “look at that!” dunk, free-throw dunk from NBA dunk contest, game winner on Ehlo, switch-hands layup against Lakers, game winner against Jazz, etc. — the big stuff) that ended with Jordan taking ownership of the Bobcats.  Jordan came out to mid-court accompanied by Dean Smith, accepted his ring and plaque, and gave brief, gracious speech — no piss and vinegar like from the Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.

At that point, most of the Bobcats had made their way back onto the corner of the court to watch.  Jordan shook hands with some of the other members of the Hall and spent another few moments with Dean Smith.

Jordan and Dean Smith via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The crowd lapped it up and rightfully so.  It was a good ceremony.  More importantly, and maybe I’m naive for thinking this, but the Bobcats lapped it up, too.  OK, maybe “lapped it up” is too strong; they came out in the second half with a better effort, and I can’t help but think the positive atmosphere created by Jordan’s ceremony helped with that.

The Bobcats quickly evened things up in the third quarter, traded leads early in the fourth, and pulled away late as the Raptors self-destructed with backup guard Jerryd Bayless trying to run the show.

Jackson never did get it going (7 points, 3-8 FG), garnering a tech and eventually fouling out in the fourth. Gerald Wallace tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 mildly tweaked ankle (left).  Matt Carroll played crunchtime and had a really nice assist to Boris with under a minute left to help the Cats pull away.

Observations

  • So I missed the DeRozan dunk live.  I was looking down at my phone — damn Twitter.  I looked up in time to see the backboard shaking and the Raptors bench freaking the hell out.  Rightfully so, now that I’ve seen the highlight.
  • There should be a name for the phenomenon where a traditional center starts, plays significant portions of the first and third quarters, is quietly effective, but then sits the fourth quarter as both teams go small and athletic.  Can we name it the Nazr Paradox?
  • So the Bobcats are at 9-15, a game-and-a-half out of the 8th playoff spot.  Barring a shakeup or a miracle, it’s pretty clear that this is where this team will hang out most of the season.  Every marginal victory like tonight strings us along, hoping for a spark, a 4 game win streak to get back in the thick of things.
  • The Bobcats will be on the road in Memphis for a back-to-back tomorrow night, 8 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardbard Gerald on Twitter

Bobcats Squeak By Formerly Streaking Nuggets

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Gerald Wallace's textbook jumper (via Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Charlotte Bobcats cooled off the streaking Denver Nuggets 100-98 on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  The Nuggets came in winners of seven in a row and trying to get head coach George Carl his 1000th NBA win, but ran into a Bobcats team desperate to right the ship after suffering an ugly loss over the weekend.

And so the desperate home team did just enough to win.  There were some nice signs, which I’ll note below.  But as nice as it is to notch a victory over a good opponent and temporarily quiet the negative buzz that had been growing around the team, there are still glaring problems.

The Bobcats have been very shaky late in games this year.  Tonight they led by 8 with 90 seconds left, but let the Nuggets right back in it with sloppy play that continued right down to the buzzer, allowing Chauncey Billups a chance at a tying jumper at the buzzer.  The way it was going, I half-expected Chauncey to stop at the three-point line and drain a game-winner.

Additionally, turnovers continue to haunt the Bobcats — they had 18 of them, leading to 28 Denver points.  The defense, while adequate tonight, is still several notches below the level it was at last year.  Nazr Mohammed is bringing very little to the table.  Tyrus Thomas still hasn’t quite taken that step that we were all hoping he would this year.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • For one half, it was like we had the old Gerald Wallace back.  Crash had 17 at halftime, including two alley-opp jams.  But in the second half Gerald was conspicuously quiet, adding only another three points.  He also missed six free throws.
  • Despite a sore calf, Stephen Jackson led the way with a very solid 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.  Jack was making love to his jumper tonight with 11 3-point attempts — and only tw0 free throw attempts — but he hit five of those 3-pointers, so we’ll let it slide.
  • Wallace, Jackson, and Boris Diaw shared the task of defending Melo tonight and acquitted themselves pretty well.  Melo was held to 22 points on 21 shots and had 4 turnovers — a pretty pedestrian line for him.  Then again you have to wonder if that kind of line will become more typical for Melo as he plays out the string this year with a team he has no intention of being with next year.
  • Tyrus Thomas was very effective in limited minutes tonight: 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-4 FT) with 4 rebounds in just 15 minutes.  Ty would have almost certainly been out there for several more minutes to close out the game, but left with “left quad tightness” and didn’t return.
  • I understand that Larry Brown is always searching for the next George Lynch, but I’ll be glad when the Dom McGuire Project is over.  Since McGuire has been available over the past few weeks, he’s been averaging about 15 minutes a game.  Problem is, he hasn’t produced much.  Bigger problem is, those 15 minutes are Derrick Brown’s minutes.  I have no problem with McGuire getting some burn now — LB needs to get comfortable with what he can and can’t do out there — but Derrick Brown is younger and has a higher ceiling.  He’s the one that needs the burn.
  • Had to chuckle when I saw this blog post from Bonnell about Larry Brown gushing that Monday’s practice was the best in months.  The first commenter did the honors: “Practice?  We talkin bout practice!?”  Never gets old.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Show Signs Of Life, Defeat Rockets

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The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Houston Rockets 99-89 on Friday night at the Cable Box behind a strong second half and double-doubles from Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace.  The Cats started out sluggish (again) and were down by as much as 11 in the second quarter.

But the Bobcats starting five (Nazr Mohammed edition) took control in the third quarter and never looked back; they outscored the Rockets 54-37 in the second half.  Now I’ll have to qualify this by noting that the Rockets were without Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming (and weren’t very good with them, anyways), but the way the Bobcats played in the second half was the closest to how they played last year during their playoff push that I’ve seen yet this year.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • The Rockets were seriously underpowered.  What happened to Kevin Martin?  16 quiet points; though apparently he is averaging 23 ppg this year.  Just didn’t see it tonight.
  • Gerald had another tough shooting night (6-21 FG) but kept at it and ended up leading the Cats with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.  He had another spectacular block of a Chase Budinger breakaway jam that was wrongly called a foul.
  • Boris Diaw stole the show offensively in the second half, ending with 20 points (9-14 FG) on a mix of long and mid-range jumpers, hooks and scoops.  He even had a strong drive to the bucket that ended in a near-dunk.  I see in the play-by-play that it’s being credited as a dunk, and that’s very kind of the home scorekeeper.  Boris also added 10 rebounds.
  • Stephen Jackson (16 points), Nazr Mohammed (15 points on 6-9 FG, 7 rebounds), and DJ Augustin (11 assists/1 turnover) all had nice games.
  • Off the bench, Ty Thomas was quiet, but Shaun Livingston had one of his better games as a Bobcat, with 10 points on 4-7 FG.
  • So this is my third year being a season-ticket-holder, and I’ve successfully avoided being shown on the scoreboard bigscreen.  But tonight, I attended the game with Cardboard Gerald, and my streak was ended during the first possible break in the first quarter.  Such is the power of Cardboard Gerald.
  • One of the LadyCats’ hair extensions fell out while she was dancing.  I can cross that one off my Bucket List now.
  • The Bobcats are headed to Milwaukee for the second night of another back-to-back — 9PM ET start Saturday night.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Drop Second In A Row To Knicks

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The Bobcats lose again to the streaking Knicks, 99-95.  The Cats played terribly for 40 minutes, but made a furious run midway through the fourth quarter.  They were able to cut the lead to one point two different times late in the game, but couldn’t break through.  The Cats fall to 5-10 on the season.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • In an effort to match up with Amar’e Stoudemire and the D’Antoni-ball Knicks, Tyrus Thomas got the start over Nazr Mohammed, who pulled a DNP-CD.  Thomas played well and led the way for the Cats with 26 points and 11 rebounds — but that was about the only bright spot for the home team.
  • Raymond Felton made a nice return to Charlotte for himself, contributing 23 points and 13 assists to help push the Knicks to their fifth straight win.  But please don’t overinterpret the results of these two games; Raymond is still Raymond.  He shot marginally and a lot (9-18 FG) to get those 23 points and had 6 turnovers to go along with those assists.  And the Bobcats would be deep in salary cap hell had they paid for him in the offseason.
  • Amar’e had 20 points on 15 shots, but surprisingly was a beast tonight on the defensive end with 6 blocks.  Of course it helps that the Bobcats collectively (save Tyrus Thomas) go to the rack with perhaps the weakest crap in the league.  Even the once-explosive Gerald Wallace recently seems reduced to picking up offensive fouls or getting his shots blocked (or even back-rimming dunks, as he did on Tuesday night).
  • Speaking of Gerald, is dude hurt?  Just 8 points/8 rebounds in 40 minutes tonight, and has not looked like himself for several games.  At the very least, he’s in some kind of funk.
  • And if Gerald is in a funk, then we need Stephen Jackson to pick up the slack to even have a chance. However, Jack shot poorly tonight (7-20 FG) and poured in 5 turnovers.  Triple-double against the Suns aside, Jack appears a step or three slow this year.  It takes him an eternity to wind up his long jumpers, ensuring a strong close-out from the nearest defender.  And if he gets his man in the air on an up-fake on the perimeter, his move to go around happens in almost-slow-motion.
  • Sorry for the pessimism, Baseliners, but things aren’t looking good right now.  The 2009-10 Bobcats would have won this game, but this year’s edition doesn’t play with the same chemistry or defensive intensity.  Next chance to right the ship is on Friday night at home against the equally disappointing Houston Rockets.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Nip Timberwolves For First Home Victory

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Stephen Jackson via AP/Chuck Burton

It wasn’t pretty, but the Bobcats finally notched their first home victory on Monday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 113-110.  The Cats were in control with an 8 point lead late in the third quarter before stagnating and falling behind by as many as 9 halfway through the fourth.

But the Cats finished the game on an 11-3 run to rally for the win.  The deciding stretch started with just under two minutes left with clutch threes from Stephen Jackson and DJ Augustin, continued with ratcheted-up defensive intensity and huge steals by Jack and Tyrus Thomas, and ended with some Gerald Wallace free throws.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • The quick rundown above doesn’t quite give that wild finish quite enough justice.  It was borderline frenetic; the Bobcats looked right at home, while the young Timberwolves looked seriously rattled.  And after Gerald Wallace committed a silly foul, Wes Johnson had a chance to tie the game with two free throws with 3 seconds left.  He missed both.
  • Prior to the last couple of minutes, the Bobcats hadn’t played much defense, which is a big change compared to how they played at home last year.  Michael Beasley almost singlehandedly kept the T-Wolves in the game with 28 points.
  • Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson led the way for the Cats with 26 points each.  Gerald lived at the free throw line (17-19 FT, a team record for made free throws), while Jack did his damage from behind the three point line (5-6 3PT).
  • DJ Augustin had a really nice game with 9 points and 11 assists/1 turnover.  He had a huge breakaway layup after Jack’s steal during the game-winning rally that should have been an and-1.
  • Tyrus Thomas had 20 points/10 rebounds off the bench, but was the latest Bobcat to catch the turnover bug with 7!
  • You know how they film various players and coaches reading the “Fan Code of Conduct” disclaimer, then edit it altogether and show it on the video board?  Guess whose clip they use for the part about “not disrupting the game or using foul language”?  Yep, Stephen Jackson.  Touche, Bobcats video intern, touche.  In related news, Jack picked up another tech tonight.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Hang On To Beat Raptors

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Gerald Wallace via Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

The Bobcats eked out their second victory of the season on Wednesday night in Toronto, defeating the Raptors 101-96. Gerald Wallace had a fantasy-owner’s dream game with 19 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, while Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Jackson owned the deciding fourth quarter.

And while I shouldn’t minimize any road victory for a team that struggled to win double-digit road games all of last season, I just can’t get too excited about this one.  The Raps are a toothless team that plays no defense (Cats shot 50% tonight and got to the line 33 times) and announces Jarrett Jack as the fifth starter in its pregame introductions.  Furthermore, they were without one of their better players, Leandro Barbosa, who sat out with an injury.  And the Cats barely managed the W.

AP Recap |  Box Score

Observations

  • DJ Augustin had a nice game with 16 points (3-5 3pt), 3 steals and 7 assists/1 turnover.  Gerald Henderson had 10 points off the bench.
  • Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw are turnover machines.  I’ve beat around the bush in the past, passive-aggressively noting their turnover numbers several times in game recaps (4 and 6 tonight, respectively).  But let’s be direct: these guys force way too many bad passes.  You can excuse it by saying that they’re expected to be playmakers in this offense, and that they occasionally do produce easy buckets for their teammates.  And you’d be right — Jack in particular had a great assist to Ty in crunchtime to help seal the win.  But if you’re looking for some specific issues that Cats could shore up in order to dig out from their poor start this season, look no further than Boris and Jack’s “wishful thinking” types of passes.
  • Matt Carroll!  Matt Carroll! To all the Matt Carroll fanboys who somehow survived Carroll’s stint in Dallas, and still roam the Cable Box now free to again yell “Matt Carroll!… Matt Carroll!… Matt Carroll!” whenever the Bobcats need a bucket:  I give you… Matt Carroll!  In his first action of the season, Carroll got 4 minutes of burn in the second quarter and hit his only field goal attempt.
  • Box Score issues.  What was up with the online box scores for this game?  ESPN.com’s was so buggy, they eventually just took in offline at some point during the game.  And Yahoo’s froze sometime during the second half.

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter

Veteran Spurs Too Professional for Bobcats

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Oh, to be a Spurs fan.  Year after year of professional execution on and off the court: drafting top European talent in later rounds, finding NCAA collegiate castoffs, under-paying for overlooked role players and retaining homegrown stars.  It was that dedication to excellence, to the minutia of the game, that defeated an otherwise solid effort by the Bobcats 95-91 Monday night in Charlotte.  ‘Cats fall to 1-6, Spurs move to 5-1.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • Gary Neal is this year’s George Hill. Fifteen points in fourteen minutes on five three pointers, the 26 year old “rookie” from B-more via Europe killed the Bobcats this evening from beyond the arc.  Neal set up camp outside and never hesitated, often finding himself wide open until Charlotte decided to cover him in the 4th.  Too late.  Neal and Manu Ginobili were the difference makers in this one, combining for 10 threes and total of 41 points.
  • Manu is back. Ginobili looked like his old self, leaving his man in a trail of screens and ferreting himself free for numerous putbacks and second chance opportunities.  Combined with the outstanding depth of quality youngsters on the roster (Neal, Hill, Splitter, Blair, Anderson), a healthy Manu might keep the Spurs’ title window open for yet another season.  They look good.
  • Stephen Jackson is on the Verge.  If I’m Larry Brown, I’m putting a call into the highest levels of the League Office.  The refs have been openly baiting Jackson for an ejection all season.  Tonights 4 free throw attempts were JAX’s first in three games and he should’ve had at least a half dozen more.  I swear I’m not being a homer, the no-calls are near egregious and it is only a matter of time until Jackson has some sort of mental breakdown either on the court or off.  You can see it in his body language.  Something is brewing and the officials know it.
  • Both Jackson and Gerald Wallace were held out of the game late.  Jackson didn’t seem hurt but Wallace left in the third with an undisclosed injury.  Brown may have pulled JAX simply for his performance: another 6 Turnovers for Stephen to add to his 3.5/game average.  Again, the refs agenda seems to have distracted him to the point were he’s openly forcing passes and dribble drives that aren’t there.
  • Nice games by Tyrus Thomas, Boris Diaw and Gana Diop. Tyrus continues to hustle on every play, blocking shots and going for loose balls.  His skill level is still low but you gotta love the effort.  Diaw looked good again despite the added bulk, going for 15pts, 6rbs, 5asts.  Let’s hear it for Gana Diop! He’s gone from being an absolute joke and salary cap albatross to “an overpaid backup center.”  Gana really defended Tim Duncan well during his 15 minutes of action, looking much more fluid and mobile this year and while he’s no Brook Lopez offensively, he’s not killing the team on that end anymore.  Those fortunate enough to watch the game may have witnessed Gana’s first (and possibly last) turnaround fadeaway twelve footer from the block.  Nothin’ but net.

Yeah, the Bobcats are 1-6 but I’m still not panicking.  One through twelve, the roster has never been as solid and I have to believe that Brown and MJ are working the phones to upgrade the PG position soon.  Nothing against D.J. — he’s doing as well as we could have hoped — but he’s simply not the long term answer at the most important position on the floor.  ‘Cats are much better than their record and I fully expect them to make the Playoffs come April.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin