Bobcats Continue Mastery Of Lakers


Bob Leverone/AP Photo

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box; the Cats have now defeated the Lakers 8 out of the last 10 times the two teams have played.  Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 20 points and 11 rebounds; Gerald Henderson added 18 points (6-9 FG, 5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks off the bench.

AP Recap |  Box Score

The deck was stacked against the Lakers to start: they were finishing up a long road trip AND on the second night of a back-to-back; plus, Kobe was under the weather.  After a bit of a slow start, the Cats took advantage, building a six point lead to take into halftime.

The wheels really fell off for the Lakers late in the third.  With a laboring Kobe on the bench, the Cats went on a 14-3 run, capped by a 15-foot jumper and a short hook shot by Kwame Brown and a three pointer at the buzzer by Gerald Wallace, for a 78-60 lead after three.

The barrage continued with Kobe and the Lakers starters back on the court to start the fourth, this time headed by Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, who both appeared to be unguardable for the exhausted Lakers.  The Bobcats led by as much as 28 a couple of times before the benches emptied.


  • After oversleeping and arriving late to shootaround, Boris Diaw was supposedly going to be benched to start the game as discipline.  But Silas apparently changed his mind, as Boris started and played well with 16 points (3-6 3PT).
  • DJ Augustin was supposedly also out after being limited in shootaround with a sprained wrist.  But after pregame warmups he declared himself ready to go and notched 9 assists vs. 0 turnovers.  Still not a complete bounceback from his recent slump, though, as he shot 3-7 FG and 1-4 3PT for just 7 points.
  • This has to be said: even if you took Stephen Jackson’s proclivity for antagonizing the officials and drawing technical fouls out of the equation, Gerald Henderson would still be pushing him for playing time.  Henderson’s been that good recently.
  • With beat writer Rick Bonnell on furlough this week, the rest of the Observer’s sports crew filled in.  Check out good posts by Ron Green on what this win meant for the Bobcats and this post by Scott Fowler on Phil Jackson’s terse postgame comments/Kobe’s no-show.
  • The win moves the Bobcats to 24-31 and 1.5 games back from Indiana for the 8th playoff spot.
  • Quick turnaround as the Bobcats head to Chicago for a back-to-back against the Bulls Tuesday night, 8PM ET start.  The Bulls will be looking to avenge two losses the Cats from earlier this season.

-Dr. E

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Bobcats Stump Lakers Again


Charlotte Bobcats vs Lakers, 3/5/10

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 98-83 in front of a packed house at the Cable Box on Friday night.  AP recap here, box score here.  With the win, the Bobcats avenged their loss to the Lakers in LA earlier this season and continue their mastery over the elite squad — the Cats have now won 7 of their last 9 against the Lakers.  More importantly, the victory keeps the Cats in the hunt for the Eastern Conference playoffs, one game behind 8th place Miami.

The Lakers held a modest lead through most of the first quarter; the Cats overtook them in the second and steadily built on the lead through the third and fourth as the Lakers faded.  Stephen Jackson led the Cats in scoring with 21 points on 7-14 FG.

This was a weird game for numerous reasons.  First, the Lakers looked spent and/or disinterested.  We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was spent, after an overtime loss in Miami on Thursday night.  Kobe played well enough (9-21 FG for 26 points) but didn’t get any help from his supporting cast — the rest of the team shot 34%.

Then, though it was a packed house on a Friday night against a superstar and his elite team, the energy in the arena was just a bit off.  It was as if all the Kobe/Laker fans were infected with the same malaise that seemed to infect Pau Gasol (5-14 FG, 3 turnovers), Ron Artest (1-9 FG), Shannon Brown (3-9 FG, 3 turnovers) and Lamar Odom (4 turnovers).  Meanwhile, Bobcats fans appear to be in a mixed state of anxiety and straight-up confusion: Is this a playoff team or not?  3-1 vs the Cavs, beating the Lakers down, but losing two to the Nets?  Wha?

Perhaps the strangest development was seeing Gerald Henderson on the floor.  The first round draft pick has been languishing on the bench, looking not-ready-for-prime-time in his brief appearances.  But tonight, Gerald played 12 minutes — including an important stretch spent guarding Kobe Bryant in the second quarter — and looked good.  He jacked up 7 shots, hit 3, and added 2 rebounds, a steal and a block and no turnovers.  Maybe it was just because Stephen Jackson got into foul trouble guarding Kobe, maybe Larry Brown could sense that he needed to tweak the rotations as the Cats had gone stale over the past couple of weeks, maybe Henderson’s been showing signs of “getting it” in practice recently.  Whatever the reason, it was great to see him out there contributing.


  • Surreal moment during pregame warmups when Lamar Odom came over to Ric Flair courtside for an enthusiastic exchange of dap.  And you have the marvel at Charlotte’s relationship with the Nature Boy — less than two weeks after his wife was arrested after a “domestic incident” at his house, the Bobcats dragged him out to center court to cut a promo before the fourth quarter to a chorus of “whooo”s .  That’s our Naitch.
  • Tyson Chandler was active for the first time in weeks and acquitted himself nicely with 6 points (2-2 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 rebounds and a block in 15 minutes of relief of Theo Ratliff.  Then again, it’s sad when I’m handing out compliments to a player who’s making $12 million for 15 decent minutes.
  • Tyrus Thomas continues to impress: 7-12 FG for 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 more blocks.  This guy is a keeper.
  • DJ had another of his patented “every dozen games or so, I’ll play great so you think I’m breaking out of my sophomore slump” games: 5-8 FG for 12 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in 22 minutes.
  • Adam Morrison played a few minutes for the Lakers — when he checked in in the second quarter, he actually got booed.  Not sure I can get behind that.  Then, during garbage minutes in the fourth, the crowd was egging him on to shoot every time he touched the ball.  He didn’t oblige  Thank goodness, because it sure felt snarky — like egging on the mentally challenged team manager who gets to dress out on senior night to shoot, so that you can guffaw if he misses or get a cheap thrill if he happens to make it.  Anyways, I hope Ammo finds some peace playing overseas next year, or maybe on the professional XBox 360 circuit.
  • Next game is Saturday night against Steph Curry and the Warriors in a rare home-home back-t0-back.  Tipoff is at 7:00 PM ET as usual — I’ll be there and tweeting.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Lose Close Game In LA


Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats at Lakers , 2.4.10

Lakers-99 Bobcats-97

AP Recap | Box Score

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The End of The Road

Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers marked the end of a long road trip through the West for the Charlotte Bobcats. The LA Lakers had just returned home from an East Coast swing, and a loss to the surging Memphis Grizzlies two nights earlier. Going into the game, Bobcats fans could only hope that Gerald Wallace would put together another star caliber performance to fuel Charlotte’s 4th straight win on the Lakers homecourt. Everyone expected Kobe Bryant to have a huge scoring night, with the Cats defense as the only weapon available to keep them in the game.

Well, the game ended up playing out a bit differently than anticipated. Hours before tip-off, Gerald Wallace was ruled out with a strained hamstring. Stephen Graham was placed into the starting line-up and it looked like that match up would give Kobe way too much of an edge. Remarkably, Kobe Bryant wasn’t much of a presence at all against the Bobcats. This was likely the result of early game strategy and an awkward injury late in the 2nd quarter. Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson did assert himself in this one, though. Jackson showed what the Bobcats had been lacking during that “missing offense” stretch that started the season –  an “alpha male” to take the lead role. “Jack” totaled 30 points, and kept former teammate Ron Artest to 14 on the night.

Bryant’s slow first quarter and the Bobcats steady counter-punches set the game at a pace that wouldn’t allow LA to take control. Both teams worked the ball inside-out, with Charlotte choosing to drive the lanes while the Lakers stayed with their proven formula of spacing by perimeter shooting.

Impact Players

The big men for both clubs were major influencers throughout the game. Boris Diaw was in early foul trouble, never found his rhythm, and ended the game with 0% shooting (mostly from the three point line). Still, the Cats competed from start to finish with the help of a line up shaped on the fly. Without Wallace and Diaw, Charlotte used Gana Diop to pair with Nazr Mohammed for the first time all year. This could have spelled disaster, but it actually worked out immediately. On one offensive possession in the 1st, there was a “Diop-to-Mohammed” moment for a lay in. Nazr’s strong play on the offensive end was complimented by Diop’s work on the boards and defense. Gana was hustling and it was like watching the re-emergence of Mohammed all over again. It’s hard to believe that this guy had been hidden on the bench for so long. Of course, he did bring his game down to earth with a “Classic Diop” airball freethrow.

On the other side of the court, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum showed that they are a championship tandem. There’s really no other team with such strong players at the 4 an 5 positions. Charlotte was fortunate to get great games from Mohammed and Diop to match their impact. Bynum had his way in the paint from start-to-finish. Oddly, he chose to practice his hook shot against the Cats. Luckily, his hook is still a work in progress. LA’s bench was strong, as usual. Reserves Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown really pushed their team during Bryant’s absence.

Overall, the Bobcats point guards had a strong outing against Old Man Fisher and Jordan Farmar. Raymond Felton came out of the gate focused and full of energy. He closed the first quarter shooting 4 of 6, with one of those being a cross-court heave at the buzzer. DJ Augustin stepped into the game and kept the same pattern of attack, scoring 6 quick and finding his teammates inside and out. Felton’s strong showing benefitted him late in the game, as he carried the ball and likely stepped out of bounds with 10 seconds left and the Cats down by 3. Fortunately, it appears that the refs will give you the benefit of the doubt when you play a good game and the pace quickens. Refs have missed worse things in the past.

Closing Time

With those 10 seconds left, the Bobcats worked out a three-point play during a time out.  But, the Cats gave away their opportunity to tie on a sloppy inbounds pass from Stephen Jackson to Raymond Felton. The Lakers slapped the ball away from Raymond and Jordan Farmar took the ball on a fast break to increase the lead to 5. Flip Murray hit a long 3 quickly, but only 1 second remained on the clock and LA held on for a 99-97 win.

The end was a heartbreaker, but the rest game was a great showing of the progress the Bobcats have made. With no contributions from Diaw, Wallace out with an injury, and Tyson Chandler missing his 22nd consecutive game, Larry Brown’s “system” looked like it was fully functional against an elite team. Kobe Bryant only put in 5 points and was barely on the court during the 2nd half. So comparatively, this game was about the cavalry for each squad. Beyond having the best player in basketball on their roster, the Lakers are doing fairly well with Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. Charlotte’s supporting cast of Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton, and Flip Murray are the kind of guys that could maybe form an opening band for stadium headliners like the Lakers.

Final Notes:

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson became the winningest coach of all-time, ever in the history of the NBA, as we know it today.  More on that here.

Lamar Odom took control of the game at the end of the 3rd and showed his full range of skills, inside-and-out, with Kobe on the bench in the 4th

Coach Brown went for a no-tie, LA look on the sidelines. Gerald Wallace looks horrible in a suit. Tyson Chandler, on the other hand, is accustomed to dressing well courtside.

Flip Murray can hit some shots, but he’s a black hole on offense. Once he gets the ball, guys stop moving because they know they aren’t getting it back. His lazy defense made Stephen Graham’s stong coverage look even better.

Shannon Brown rose up on a fast-break dunk at some type of hyper-speed. He hops so quickly, it’s like he’s in fast forward. Gerald’s going to have to pull out something big to beat Brown in the dunk contest this year.

Jordan Farmar seems to suffer from Kendrick Perkins Syndrome : They think that they have something to do with the great teams that they’re playing on. When LA’s offense is clicking, Farmar will get an open look or an easy lay up. Like the Celtic’s Perkins, he acts as if he accomplished this all by himself. I’d like to see how amped up either of those guys would be playing for the Nets or the T-Wolves.

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Lakers 3/31/09


1.  The Bobcats score a huge win at the Cable Box Tuesday night, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 94-84.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats continue their uncanny mastery over the Lakers; they’ve now swept the season series and have won 6 of the last 7 matchups.

Perhaps more importantly, the Cats won a game that most of us had marked off as a likely loss on the same night that the Bulls and Pistons both lost.  The Cats are one game back from the 8th place Bulls and two games back from the 7th place Pistons with 8 games left in the regular season.

2.  The game was sold out; the atmosphere was awesome.  There were thousands of Lakers/Kobe fans in the building; they were treated to a superb effort by the Cats and a subpar one from the Lakers.  The game was tight throughout: in the first quarter the Cats briefly held an 8 point lead; in the second quarter the Lakers briefly went up by 6.  At the half the Lakers led 44-43 in a low-scoring affair.

3.  The second half began in a similar manner.  But with a couple minutes left, It was time for Phil Jackson to give his starters some rest.  Luke Walton got Odom, Josh Powell got Ariza, Jordan Farmar got Fisher, and finally, Sasha Vujacic got Kobe.  Then the wheels came off for the Lakers.

From two minutes left in the third until Kobe re-entered with 9 minutes left in he fourth, the Bobcats outscored the Lakers 14-3 to build a 75-66 lead.  They did it by turning up the defensive intensity, suffocating the Lakers’ reserves and capitalizing on all the turnovers they forced.  The Lakers “Bench Mob” looked pretty inept.

4.  Once Kobe returned, the Lakers looked poised to make a run at it, but the Bobcats were up to the task.  Kobe cut the lead to two with five minutes left, but the Cats got a layup from Boris, a three from Raja, and a reverse layup by Gerald on their next three possessions to stretch the lead back out.  From there, the Cats simply hit their free throws for the final margin.

5.  The overall story of the game probably has to be the ease with which the Bobcats were able to score.  On the game, they shot 51.5% (compared to 39.2% for the Lakers) and were able to get layups and good looks all night.  At least against the Bobcats tonight, the Lakers seemed to be missing Andrew Bynum’s defensive presence.

6.  Kobe was off from the get-go tonight.  He appeared to be favoring his recently sprained right ankle by swinging his right leg out excessively and landing only on his left foot after jump shots.  There was a two-minute stretch in the third quarter when Kobe had 8 points in a 10-4 run when it seemed as if we’d get to see a vintage Kobe scoring binge.  But the Bobcats called timeout and sucessfully cooled him off.  He ended the game with 25 points on 11-28 FG.

7.  For the Cats, Gerald Wallace was easily the player of the game.  He came out so jacked up in the first quarter I feared he wouldn’t have anything left for the other three.  No worries, though.  After setting the tone early, he maintained it throughout.  Wallace finished with 21 points (10-16 FG, 1-2 FT), 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks.

Okafor also had a strong game, despite only getting 4 FGAs: 13 points (7-9 FT), 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks.

Felton had an OK game shooting (6-13) but a worrisome 6 turnovers vs. only 5 assists.  Despite that, he had the best +/- (+17) of any of the Bobcats.

8.  One funny note: every game, the Bobcats have a “Team Store Item of the Night.”  It’s often a pretty good deal on a less-than-bestselling product.  For example, Sean May Swingman jerseys (regular $80) have been $20 or $25 a couple of times.  Tonight, though, the “Team Store Item of the Night” was “all authentic jerseys (regular $180) for $40.”  Not bad, I thought, as I envisioned getting either a Gerald or DJ alternate authentic for 40 bones.

Now I haven’t been in the team store since very early in the season (Lord knows I don’t need any more Bobcats junk).  So I was surprised to that the place was very sparsely stocked.  It looked like a bankrupt chain store that’s three weeks into its liquidation sale (40% off lowest marked price!).  It would seem that they haven’t re-ordered/restocked much of anything.  And that would go for the $40 authentic jerseys, too.

What they had was on two racks.  No blue alternates at all, no Gerald Wallace, no DJ Augustin, no Boris Diaw.  They had a few with no number or name (what the hell would anyone want with that — am I supposed to fashion and sew on my own number and nameplate?).  Then the big laugh: they had a whole rack of authentic home Gana Diop jerseys.  Seriously…

9.  Next game is a tough one.  The Cats presumably hopped on a plane to Boston after the game tonight as we’ve got a back-to-back in Boston.  Little bit of good news: Garnett is out.




Booyah Bobcats


Coming off a tough loss in a very physical game, the Bobcats could have walked into the Staples Center exhausted from being pushed around by the Jazz in their last game. Instead, they showed focus and established a momentum that they hadn’t shown much of this season. Their balance of energetic defense and skilled offense was on display for about 40 minutes longer than the Bobcats have shown in any game this season.

Jason Richardson was clearly the engine that propelled the offense. His 34 pts and 10 rebounds were huge for the team and he showed real tenacity on defense with 2 blocks. While Richardson’s contributions were integral to the victory, Gerald Wallace’s coverage of Kobe Bryant may have been just as important for the ‘Cats. While his offense was efficient, his defense was remarkable. Bryant was contained as much as anyone could hold him and the consistent pressure pushed Kobe over the edge. The Bobcats never moved to their zone defense, trusting Wallace to hold Bryant. Only when rookie, Jared Dudley was forced to handle the superstar, did the plan stumble.

Offensively, the Bobcats made an impact in the paint. It was clear that getting the ball in Okafor’s hands was a priority. Emeka wasn’t explosive, but he certainly didn’t disappoint. As unimpressive as his hands have been this season, he passed extremely well. The Bobcats ran an inside-out game for much of a run in the second quarter where they established control of the game. With Jason Richardson hitting from the outside and finishing like a real baller inside, the team was able to swing the ball around the perimeter to exhaust the Lakers defense.

Though the balanced attack was impressive, the Bobcats performed their best as a team because they showed maturity. Essentially, Los Angeles tried to intimidate them. As the Lakers were beaten on both sides of the ball, they tried to frustrate and instigate sloppy play from the ‘Cats by getting physical. Derek Fisher even tried to stare down a ref. Still, it back-fired as Kobe and his teammates lost focus.

The TV recaps summarized the game as “Kobe Bryant’s ejection lost the game for the Lakers.” It would be a disservice to the ‘Cats to focus too much on Bryant’s tantrum. The Bobcats actually outplayed the Lakers for the entirety of the game. Sadly, the most told story about the upset will be about Bryant losing his temper. With effort to summarize the issue, it should be simply stated. Kobe Bryant’s play in the fourth quarter showed his lack of respect for the game of basketball. The NBA truly suffers if the best player in the league has no respect for the game.

If you love to hate Kobe, if you love to root for the underdog – or if you’re just sick of the Lakers you would have loved this game. LA was just outplayed. They tried to bully the young ‘Cats roster, but it was wasted effort. In a rare opportunity, the fans got to see the Bobcats play with poise and maturity.