Tyson in Reverse | The Baseline Breaks Down the Dwight Howard Trade

Dwight Howard Traded to Charlotte
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Back in July of 2010 then Charlotte head coach Larry Brown and GM Rod Higgins made what is widely considered one of the worst trades of the NBA millenium.

The Bobcats were over the cap and in danger of breaching the luxury tax. They needed to dump salary fast. Their solution: trade Tyson Chandler (who had spent his lone year in Charlotte either hurt or in Brown’s doghouse) to the Mavericks for the immediate cap relief of Erik Dampier’s non-guaranteed deal and the bloated multi-year contracts of Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera.

Ten months later Chandler was helping Dirk win a ring while career 9th/10th men Najera and Carroll bloated Charlotte’s payroll and took up precious roster spots for years. It was a salary dump trade in which the dumper ended up taking on more salary in the longterm. This move all but cemented the Bobcats’ reputation as a league-wide joke.

A New Era of Competence

Seven years later Charlotte is no longer the laughingstock. In fact, they’ve completely turned the tables by becoming the fleecer in such a deal rather than the fleeced. And it’s all due to competence.

See what happens when your GM and Coach work together?

COMPETENCE: As a former assistant in Orlando, Steve Clifford has long had a great relationship with Dwight Howard. He understands Howard’s game and personality. Few other NBA staffs are in a position to maximize late career Dwight like Charlotte’s. If Dwight is going to achieve a renaissance anywhere in the league it will be as a Hornet.

MORE COMPETENCE: Rich Cho’s negotiating and cap management skills allowed the Hornets to upgrade their short term talent situation, dump seemingly un-dumpable salary and boost their 2nd Round pick to near 1st Round status all in one trade.

This single transaction encapsulates what can happen when both men – each the best this organization has seen at their respective positions – play to their strengths in unison. Bravo, gentlemen.

Worst Case is Still a Better Case

“Yeah, this is a great trade and all…if it was 2011 LMFAO!!!”
–Basic Twitter Troll

Let’s assume disaster for a moment: That the worst of Dwight’s childish antics distract and disrupt. That his soon to be 32 year old body breaks down before the final two years of his contract expire. That his fit on the court never materializes and that he essentially becomes a $50m version of last season’s Roy Hibbert.

The trade is still a win. Why? Let us count the ways:

I. Miles Plumlee is not only a worse player by any measurement but his 3 year contract ran a year longer than Dwight’s. By making the trade, a currently capped out Charlotte team will be able to play in free agency a year earlier than expected.

II. Which is great because guess who is due for a new contract during that time? Kemba Walker. Also both Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can opt out that summer so more flexibility in July of 2019 = a VERY GOOD THING.

III. Did I mention that they dumped Plumlee? It was widely viewed as one of the league’s least tradeable contracts and they did so without having to include a pick or prospect to sweeten the deal (see the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell as a counterexample of this).

IV. In fact, Cho was able to somehow move up in the Draft – going from pick 41 of a deep class to 31. That’s the first pick of the 2nd Round, a very interesting spot indeed (more on this later).

V. If Dwight becomes a major problem off or on the court, Charlotte can just tell him to stay home or try and trade him as an expiring next summer. His salary is still less damaging timing-wise than Plumlee’s.

Best Case is Insane

Ok. So what if Dwight isn’t Lance Stephenson 2.0? What if he accepts his role, plays (mostly) hard, takes his vitamins and says his prayers (brother)? Well then, things are suddenly bright indeed.

I. Suppose you have a center who is aging, struggles with back problems and can’t quite play 36 minutes a night anymore…wouldn’t you want to pair him with…

II. A younger center whose body type and strength also prevent him from playing big minutes at the five every night for 82 games. A player who is more mobile guarding on the perimeter, a player who is different in style just enough to give you another look but not so different that you have to change the way you play when he’s out there.

III. Yes I am talking about the potentially tremendous center platoon of Dwight and Cody. Should they be able to put their past feuds and egos (well, ego) behind them this combination should finally give Clifford 48 respectable defensive minutes at center for the first time in his 5 season tenure.

IV. Lack of backup center plagued the Hornets last season. When Cody sat, the team dropped from 3rd in the league in defensive efficiency to 24th.

V. Did I mention defensive rebounding? Because Cliff is obsessed with that stuff and the Hornets (aside from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) have lacked a true rebounding beast since Big Al’s All-NBA season a few years back. Say what you will about Dwight’s declining game but the man can still ball-board (8th in DRPG, 8th in Contested DRPG). Oh yeah, Howard also ranked 2nd in offensive rebounds and contested ORBPG – so if Cliff finally allows a player to crash the offensive glass, Dwight can convert ‘em.

VI. Rim protection – while Howard is no longer the shot blocking golem he once was (nearly 3 blocks per 36 minutes during his prime, down to 1.5 last season), his strength and reputation will provide at least as much detterence as Cody when Zeller sits. This is a good thing.

VII. Given Dwight’s seniority and rep, it’s a near lock that he’ll be the starter with Cody coming off the bench. Which incidentally means that the Hornets will go from having one of the worst backup center situations in the league to one of the best.

What Next?

With the Draft a little more than 24 hours away, the Hornets roster makeup and motivation for next season is much clearer:

I. The team still has two primary positional needs: Backup PG and Backup Wing

II. After dealing Marco Belinelli in the Howard trade, Charlotte has exactly one player on the roster who shot greater than 36% from three last season (Kemba)

III. Which leads me to believe that unless a highly rated point guard drops (Dennis Smith), the Hornets will use that pick on Duke’s Luke Kennard – who is widely regarded as the best shooter in this class.

IV. While I still love Donovan Mitchell and his game, his shot is streaky and with the point guard market petering out league-wide (Russell to BRK, Fultz to PHI have started a chain reaction), it will be much easier to find a backup one via trade or free agency than a sharp-shooting wing.

V. Kennard’s play-making from the two would also give Charlotte some minor insurance should Batum miss any extended time (which would be a very, very bad thing).

2nd Round Scenarios

If the Hornets do indeed keep their newly acquired 2nd Rounder (they’ve sold or traded all but one in the Cho era) then they’re in prime position to get a potential rotation player on the cheap which would put Cho’s negotiation skills further to the test:

If Cho can uncover a quality player at 31 and then sign him to something like the famed “Hinkie Special” 2yrs + Non-Guaranteed Year + Team Option Year – or even a standard 2-3 year 2nd Round contractyou’re looking at possibly adding in a rotation guy for around $1m per over the next few seasons. For a team as cap strapped as Charlotte this would be HUGE.

As to who they could target with this pick – I have no idea. They worked out Terrance Fergusan and he may drop there. Harry Giles may scare teams off of longterm guaranteed money so could fall. Guys like Josh Hart and Frank Jackson will be there as well. This is strictly a best player available situation and given the depth of this Draft, Charlotte has a shot at a good one.

Give Rich Cho an Extension Already

Cho is in the last year of his contract and MJ has yet to extend him – this trade alone should get him one.

Even if Howard doesn’t play a game for Charlotte, the team was able to trade an untradeable contract while upgrading their draft position and cleared the books for an incredibly important 2019 Free Agency period.

Karmic payback complete. Tyson Chandler helped Dallas win a title. Cho, Cliff and Dwight helped win Charlotte some respectability.

-ASChin
@baselinebuzz

 

Is All the Losing Worth It for the Bobcats?

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So what would be worth a record-settingly uncompetitive season of losing? As a fan, it’s really tough to justify why the Bobcats would be so terrible. The chance to select the next mega-talent in the 2012 Draft is nice. Freeing up some cash to sign one or two upper-tier free agents wouldn’t be so bad, either. Maybe, someone could argue that playing time for some of the Bobcats’ youngsters will  develop them into solid players down the line. It’s all kind of hypothetical, so let’s hope the Rich Cho Rehab Plan works out.

It’s All On Cho

After seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely dismantle the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, I can only dream that we see the Bobcats shine so bright on national television in the future. The Thunder are the success story, while the Sacramento Kings or Washington Wizards might show you the other side of the coin. Hopefully, Rich Cho’s involvement with the Thunder/Sonics right before they got it going will result in the same amazing kind of turnaround for Charlotte’s suffering franchise.

Ease the Pain

When it comes to free agency, we should just take two steps and jump straight to the point. Dwight Howard’s not coming. Deron Wiilliams wouldn’t be worth the trouble even if would join the club. No superstars are targeting the Queen City, but a load of mid-level talent could find a a club like the Bobcats a good place to show their skills if they can be sold on the team’s direction. Some role player types like Matt Barnes, OJ Mayo, or Marco Bellinelli might see the Cats as a good fit for their career if the team shows that they’re putting the right pieces into place. If the front office could pull the strings, they might even land a player like Nicolas Batum or Ersan Ilyasova that could breakout and veer toward All-Star status one day. So, rather than betting it all on the NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong balls over the next few years, a few smart steps in free agency could leave the Cats with a bit more control over their destiny.

Alternately, an argument could be made that a star player would be well worth this embarrassing season. Honestly, the Bobcats could really use some luck in this game. Despite their regular appearances in the Draft Lottery, Charlotte just can’t catch the big one. It’s a shame to think that Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Derrick Rose have all landed in the league since the Bobcats’ first tip in 2004, and Charlotte didn’t snag one of them. Will Kentucky’s Anthony Davis prove to be worth this embarrassing season? He’s putting on a show right now in the NCAA Final Four. As Bobcats fans, we’re probably all hoping to catch a legendary performance in Monday night’s Championship game. Could Davis suit up as a Bobcat, and play like the next Chris Bosh? Would that scenario make us all forget about how bad the Bobcats were this season? And if the Bobcats don’t get the coveted first pick, does any other player help to ease the pain? Davis’ teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Connecticut’s Andre Drummond wouldn’t be bad consolation prizes. Whoever the Bobcats might pick, the team will need him to be a guaranteed starter and a potential All-Star – someone that can sell jerseys and win games. That’s not so much to ask, right?

POLL : Does a Top Draft Pick Justify This Season?

  • Definitely Does (38%, 56 Votes)
  • No Way (34%, 50 Votes)
  • Hope So (31%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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Bobcats Almost Steal One From The Magic

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Late Rally Not Enough for The Bobcats to Catch The Magic

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Charlotte Bobcats lose at home to the Orlando Magic : 91–88

AP Recap | Box Score

Observations

After falling to the Detroit Pistons last night, the Bobcats had a date with the Magic on the second night of their back-to-back. It looked like Orlando felt a little bad about the Playoff sweep and decided not to activate Jameer Nelson (recovering from injury) for the match-up at the Cable Box. Chris Duhon got the start alongside Vince Carter, Quentin Richardson, Rashard Lewis and the intimidating Dwight Howard. Charlotte used their standard starting five – D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, and Nazr Mohammed. By just pairing those names alongside each other, we should’ve expected a blow-out by the Magic.

The Bobcats should be commended for not digging a huge hole to start the game. They used their homecourt advantage to stick pretty close to Orlando for much of the first quarter, and stayed within striking distance at the half. Unfortunately, Charlotte only had 36 pts at halftime. Not too many teams are going to threaten the Magic with 36 pts going into the 3rd quarter. For nearly all of the second half, the Orlando Magic executed their offense efficiently enough to keep a persistent stiff-arm of around 12pts to hold the lead. The momentum swung Charlotte’s way mid-way through the 4th and the Bobcats’ run coincided with an injury to Vince Carter, allowing the team to nearly steal the game in the final minutes. On the last possession of the game, neither Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, nor D.J. Augustin had the firepower to get the final 3 points that the Cats needed to tie the game against the much superior Magic squad.

Dwight Howard Really Is That Good At Basketball

I had intended to use this space to recap how huge Dwight Howard’s slams would be and compare them to the types of dunks that he’s capable of throwing down in the new NBA JAM.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve seen him do some things in the past that are way crazier than the moves executed his cartoonish Jam character. Now, after the game, I have to say that the Bobcats did a great job of minimizing his monster dunks. Sure, Dwight had a couple really good ones while the Magic were rolling in the first half. But, I was more impressed by his hook shot from the right, and his 8′ jumper. Nazr Mohammed did his best to affect Howard, but it really just looked embarrassing for ol’ Naz’.  Dwight had everything going in the first half, but it seemed that Larry Brown adjusted the guys on defense and they kept Superman playing like a mortal at the close of the game. I’ll touch on this a bit more down the page.

Vince Carter Is Still Pretty Good At NBA Basketball

The first thing I noticed about Vince Carter during the game was his ability to get space to get off a good shot. He may not leap as high as he once did, but he knows when to cut, how to slide around a screen, and exactly how to make a jab step move his defender. Secondly, I was frustrated to see just how good Carter is at selling a foul. The Bobcats play more physical than they ever have, and yet they don’t seem to get the easy whistles. For much of the game, it seemed that Vince was getting Tyrus, Stephen and Boris called for fouls by simply turning his body to get contact in a manner odd enough to get a whistle. If he was fighting through a screen, it was like he would start high and come around the defender twisted and heading down like he had just been whacked in his shoulders. Vince Carter was selling the contact better than Vince McMahon.  Lastly, Carter’s injury in the 4th quarter looked bad. He appeared to slip on a wet spot at the top of the key and his legs went in absolute opposite directions. Hopefully, this wasn’t a serious injury.

Gerald Wallace Was On

Crash finished the game with 25 points, and it looked like he had plenty of energy despite going for all but a few minutes against the Pistons on Friday. From what I could tell, that ankle sprain in New Jersey should be behind him soon. Wallace opened the game with a couple of jumpers and helped to spread the floor by knocking down open threes. He seemed to pair well during his time with the other Gerald (Henderson), too.  Henderson knocked down a couple of open shots and showed some defensive prowess with a crazy-athletic sprint-to-leap-to-block on Rashard Lewis. Larry Brown should note the benefits of an excessively athletic set of Geralds on the wings.

Good and Bad

Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw both looked really good and really bad during the game. Stephen Jackson just seems out of sync at times and his bad passes seemed to always result in a score by Orlando. Boris Diaw looked good for stretches and then totally out of place and out of rhythm on offense late in the game. Neither of these guys were horrible, and neither were incredible. If they can both minimize those periods of inexplicable mistakes, the Bobcats would start to look pretty good. While Diaw’s offense went into hiding during the last stretch of the game, he seemed to do a great job guarding Dwight Howard. Larry Brown chose to go really small with Diaw at the center spot, but Orlando couldn’t find a way to let Dwight dominate the paint. Actually, I think Boris had a couple of blocks on Howard in this one. While the Frenchman may have missed the potentially game-tying three-pointer in the last seconds, I’m not sure they would have been that close without his surprisingly solid defense.

Loose Notes

D.J. Augustin appears to be improving. It’s exciting to see him build to his repertoire of skills. His passing, awareness, and shooting are all on the upswing, right now. The crowd at the arena went crazy over his floater in the lane late in the 4th quarter.

Tyrus needs more minutes. When we see Tyrus Thomas come out for a few brief plays in the first half, he seems out of place and he picks up a couple of fouls pretty easily. As he plays for longer stretches, Thomas really starts to influence the game and he plays in rhythm. When he stops pressing, he plays like a serious threat on both ends of the court.

Lastly, Saturday night was Nelly’s birthday and he spent it with us and the Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Nelly, a partial owner of the Bobcats team, sat courtside and received a big ovation from the audience when he was shown on the big screens above the court. The promo for his upcoming release “Nelly 5.0” did not receive such a warm reception.

Bonus Observation : Eduardo Najera had a pretty great style going in street clothes for the game. If anyone has a picture of Eddie in his white jacket, please post it in the comments.

Next game is Monday night at the Cable Box versus Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs.

-Mike

Magic Complete Sweep Of Bobcats

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Magic Game 4, 4/26/10

AP/Chuck Burton

The Charlotte Bobcats were swept out of the first round by the Orlando Magic 99-90 on Monday night at the Cable Box.  Again, the Cats were able to limit Dwight Howard’s minutes due to foul trouble, and again it really didn’t matter.  Again, the Cats got decent play from a couple of starters and one reserve, and again it was not nearly enough to contend with the Magic.

AP recap here |  Box score here

It’s late and the season is over, so I’m going to keep this relatively short and sweet.  The Bobcats came out and competed, forcing Dwight Howard into foul trouble and taking a two-point lead into halftime.  But the rest of the Magic (particularly Lewis, Carter, Nelson and Pietrus) again picked up the slack, while the Bobcats continued to struggle to score whether or not Howard was in the game.

Despite the continued struggles, the Cats were in in this one until halfway through the final period.  After Tyson Chandler hit two free throws to pull the Bobcats to within one at 77-76,  Michael Pietrus drained a three.  On the ensuing possession, Dwight Howard snatched a DJ Augustin layup out of the air.  While the crowd and the Bobcats benched yelped about the lack of a goaltending call, Pietrus drained another three.  The sequence took less than a minute and completely took the air out of the the arena.

And if you were hanging on to any hope that the Bobcats could come back from seven down with six minutes left, two missed free throws by Gerald Wallace, followed by another Jameer Nelson three to put the Magic 86-76 with under five minutes left was enough to convince even the most optimistic Cats fans.

The Bobcats were actually led by Tyrus Thomas, who rang up 21 points on 9-12 FG and added 9 rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.  Tyrus had the baseline 12-15 footer going early and was actually 8-8 from the field at one point.  But just as in the first three games, no other Bobcat produced off the bench.

Tidbits

  • Stephen Jackson picked a terrible time to have a bad night — Jack was 2-11 FG and 0-3 3PT for just 8 points.
  • Seeing the Heat take a game from the Celtics this weekend and the Bucks tie up the Hawks tonight just reminds you how important the regular season is.  Those losses to the Nets and Pacers come back to haunt.

The Elephant In The Room

And now the Bobcats enter what is shaping up to be a very difficult offseason.  Michael Jordan’s mettle as owner will certainly be tested.  We’ll certainly be writing more about this in the coming days and weeks, but here’s a quick primer:

  • Larry Brown, having partially restored his reputation by getting the Cats to the playoffs, is probably gone back to Philadelphia for a front office position.  Let the coaching search begin.
  • Raymond Felton, fresh off getting toasted in this playoff sweep, is an unrestricted free agent.  Hopefully, Miami will come along and make Raymond a Godfather offer with the money they have leftover after resigning Wade and getting Boozer or Bosh and we won’t even be tempted to match it.
  • Tyrus Thomas has shown inconsistent flashes in his couple of months with the Bobcats.  Kinda similar to how he showed inconsistent flashes to the Bulls for three or four years.  He’s a restricted free agent.  Keeper or not?
  • The Cats have no draft picks this year (both were traded away in prior deals) and very few assets that have any trade value around the league.

-Dr. E



POLL : SHOULD CHARLOTTE RE-SIGN RAYMOND FELTON?

  • YES
    (32%, 59 Votes)
  • NO
    (68%, 127 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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Close, But No Cigar; Magic Go Up 3-0

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Magic, Game 3, 4/24/10

Playoff basketball returned to Charlotte on Saturday, but the inspired Bobcats still couldn’t quite get over the hump and fell to the Orlando Magic 90-86.  Jameer Nelson continued his domination of the Bobcats with another 32 point effort.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Game 3 is usually the lower-seeded team’s best chance to steal a game in round one of the NBA Playoffs (e.g. the Bulls and Thunder earlier this week) and this was no exception.  A fired-up, sellout crowd donned giveaway Jordan Brand Bobcats t-shirts and waved towels for a “whiteout” that drove the Cats to an improved performance relative to Games 1 and 2 in Orlando.

The Cats got off to a decent start per the scoreboard, trailing the Magic just 29-27 after the first quarter.  But if you look back on it, that first quarter can really serve as a microcosm for the whole game.

  1. Dwight Howard got into early foul trouble (2 in the first quarter) and had only moderate effect on the game early; things stayed that way the rest of the way and Howard eventually fouled out with 3:31 left in the fourth after having only played 26 minutes.
  2. Jameer Nelson picked up the slack with 19 first quarter points, including four threes and a four-point play to close the quarter as he continued to outplay Raymond Felton.  This trend would also continue through the rest of the game, as Nelson would finish with 32 points (12-21 FG, 5-9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists — and had a big bucket down the stretch to fend off the Cats.
  3. The Cats and the crowd fed off each other in the first, fueling an 8-0 run that had the Cats up by four late in the quarter.  This would happen a couple more times in the game: a 9-2 second quarter run had the Cats up 41-33 briefly and a longer 19-9 stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter had the Cats up 77-73 halfway through the final period.
  4. But just as the Magic ended the first quarter strongly to take the lead (the aforementioned four-point play by Nelson), they ended the game with a show of experience and dominance as well.  After the Felton three-point play that fouled Howard out with 3:31 left put the Cats up 80-79, the Magic outscored the Cats 11-6 by hitting clutch shots and getting to the free throw line.

The Cats had a chance, though.  Down one with 31 seconds left, Larry Brown used a full timeout, then added another 20-second timeout to draw up what must have been the world’s most complicated basketball play.  It worked, too.

Early in the set Stephen Jackson popped off a screen at the three-point line and had a wide open look.  Some will criticize the fact that the first option on the play was a look at a three-pointer when the Cats were down just one with 30 seconds left, but let them criticize.

This is one of the best basketball minds in the world, a master at drawing up plays in timeouts we’re talking about, teamed up with Stephen Jackson, Mr. “I Make Love To Pressure”.  A three probably would have won the game.

Unfortunately, Jack did not come through.  The shot was short, Orlando grabbed the rebound, the game, and any remaining hope that the Bobcats could make this a series.

Tidbits

  • Lack of bench production has plagued the Cats in every game thus far.  In Game 1, only Tyson Chandler was helpful off the bench.  In Game 2, Nazr Mohammed was alone in contributing off the bench.  In Game 3, it was Larry Hughes who played well, with 14 points (5-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes.  The lack of signficant contributions from DJ Augustin and Tyrus Thomas continues to hurt.
  • A couple of my in-game Tweets:  “I think D Howard might bitch to refs more than Stephen Jackson. Impressive feat.” and “I’d be stunned if Ty Chandler didn’t lead the league if offensive fouls due to bad screens. Another here early in 4th”
  • Raymond Felton.  How can I say this diplomatically?  Let’s just say his agent won’t be using video of this series in his contract negotiations this summer.  And the Bobcats need to keep it in mind when Miami or New York makes an offer that the Bobcats consider matching.
  • Lots of celebs at the game: Jordan was there, obviously.  Commissioner David Stern observed the proceedings.  Legends Robert Parish, David Thompson, and Muggsy Bogues were in attendance, as was coach Tubby Smith.  And lest we forget, Bobcats minority owner Nelly sat courtside.
  • Game 4 is Monday night at 8 PM ET at the Cable Box.  I would expect some golfers courtside with the Quail Hollow starting up next week.  Maybe even this famous Magic fan and friend of MJ?

-Dr. E

Bobcats Can’t Handle Magic; Go Down 0-2

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Magic Game 2, 4/21/10


The Orlando Magic scored another definitive victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, 92-77, in Game 2 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night.  Stephen Jackson led the Bobcats with 27 and keyed a fourth quarter rally that briefly made things interesting late, but the Magic ultimately led wire to wire, putting all five starters in double figures.

AP recap here |  Box score here

This one had an even uglier start than Game 1.  8 minutes into the first quarter, the two teams had only combined for 16 points; problem was, the Cats only had three of those.  Fortunately, the Cats got a few buckets to make the count a not-quite-as-embarrassing 18-14 after the first quarter.

But frankly, the damage had been done.  Orlando’s zone-ish defense rendered the Cats offense (not exactly potent to begin with) into a bogged-down, turnover-filled mess.  The Cats finished the game with 21 turnovers, and no one outside of Stephen Jackson ever figured out how to score.

The fact that the Bobcats  play some pretty good defense themselves kept the game reasonable; the Cats were only down 11 at the half, and cut the lead to 8 with 3:15 left in the game before succumbing.

The Magic simply had too many weapons tonight.  Though Dwight Howard was held to a modest line (15 points on 5-10 FG/5-12 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) he was absolutely dominant for a stretch early in the third quarter that set the tone for the rest of the second half.

Vince Carter, infamous for shrinking into a jump-shooter when the going gets tough, had smooth sailing into the paint all night long, resulting in 9-11 free throws.  (As a team, the Magic shot 35 free throws.)

Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson were solid and reliable, if unspectacular, while Mickael Pietrus and Ryan Anderson provided an onslaught of threes off the bench, combining for 5-7 from distance.

There were almost no silver linings for the Bobcats in this one.  The late run that cut the deficit to 8 was intriguing for a minute, but rationally you knew it was too little, too late.  Nazr did show some signs of life (5-6 FG for 10 points in 16 minutes).

But basically, I’m grasping at straws here.  The only one that may be worth a damn is simply that the Cats have played much better at home this year and Games 3 and 4 are in Charlotte.  The Cats had the biggest home/road record differential amongst all the playoff teams this year, for no reason that anyone could logically explain.  At this point, I’d give up trying to explain it if I could just see it for Games 3 and 4.

Tidbits

  • Apologies for recycling my Twitter posts, but is anyone else getting the same feeling they used to get watching Jeff McInnis a couple of years ago when watching Larry Hughes these days?
  • Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw have been frustratingly ineffective, as have Hughes and Tyrus Thomas off the bench.
  • The Cats have a couple of days to stew on this one.  Game 3 is on Saturday afternoon at 2PM ET at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

Quick Thoughts On Game 1

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Doug Benc/Getty Images/ESPN.com

Doug Benc/Getty Images/ESPN.com

The Charlotte Bobcats fell 98-89 to the Orlando Magic in their playoff debut Sunday night.  We’ll have a more in-depth recap up later, but I wanted to post some quick thoughts and have a place for you guys to make some comments as well.

  • Here’s the AP recap and box score.
  • That first half couldn’t have gone worse.  The Bobcats were attacking the paint, but in a half-hearted manner that allowed Howard to rack up 8 blocks.  Meanwhile, Jameer Nelson was frying Raymond Felton (see above picture) and the Magic were draining three after three (9-18 3PT in 1st half).
  • However, the Cats showed some resolve in battling back in the second half.  Gerald Wallace beasted it (25 and 17), Stephen Jackson gutted it out on a hyperextended knee, and the Cats were able to cut the lead to as low as 4 late in the game.
  • The Cats got nothing beyond Gerald, Jack and Felton.  Diaw or someone from the bench is going to have to step up in order for us to take a game or two.  Chandler did have a nice stretch in the third quarter to key a Bobcats run, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
  • We’ve noted how rusty Nazr has looked in the couple of games he’s played since returning from back problems.  But rusty just ain’t cutting it anymore.  As fellow Baseline contributor Deesdale noted in a text message during the first half: “I think Nazr gave up on life.”
  • Game 2 on Wednesday.  Thank goodness for the 2 day break in between Games 1 and 2 — Jack’s knee is sure to swell and tighten up, but hopefully he’ll be ready to go again by Wednesday.  Let’s hope it’s not too bad.  Make sure you’re following us on Twitter in the meantime.
  • UPDATE: At halftime of the Spurs/Mavs game, the TNT guys indicated that Jack will have an MRI on the knee (no brainer) and showed a quick post-game interview of Jack in which Jack dismissed any concerns, saying he’d be ready to go if Game 2 were tomorrow.

-Dr. E