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

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.


Bobcats Trade One Weirdo, Get Back Another Weirdo


Morrison and Radman

It took a little more than three months for Larry Brown to trade Adam Morrison.  While the trade isn’t surprising (not many people around the League thought Morrison was a “Brown” type player), it should be noted that Coach did give it the old college try by repeatedly giving Adam opportunities to succeed.

EXHIBIT A: Training Camp.  Coach Brown talks Adam up in the local press saying that Adam is, “one of the smartest players” on the Bobcats roster with “an extremely high basketball IQ” and that he has come back from the torn ACL injury at an “amazing pace.”

EXHIBIT B: December trade.  Coach Brown approves a trade that sends Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins to Dallas for Gana Diop.  One of the immediate impacts of this trade is to eliminate the glut of one-dimensional bench “scorers” and allow for Morrison to be the prime scoring threat off of the pine.

EXHIBIT C: Gerald Wallace injury.  Coach Brown opts to insert a still struggling Morrison into the starting lineup after team captain Wallace goes down with a collapsed lung.  Morrison stays in the starting lineup until the day that he’s traded.

So, do you think a guy like — I don’t know — Linton Johnson got this many chances to succeed?  And how does Morrison respond after being given the opportunity to start for his injured comrade?  Apparently by grumbling privately to Coach Brown and asking to be traded.  Way to pull a Kerry Collins when your team needs you the most AMMO.  Dude!  Your coach was talking you up in the media as recently as last week saying that you were playing “much more confident in practice than in the games” — he was trying to tell you that you had the ability to succeed!!!

Well, maybe Morrison is just a troubled kid (remember, he’s only 24) who needs a change of scenery and now he’s closer to his roots back on the West Coast after the ‘Cats sent him (along with Shannon Brown) to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vladimir Radmanovic.  How does the deal breakdown for the Bobcats?  Some initial thoughts:

1. MONEY.  By taking on the Radman, the Bobcats have added another $8 million to their payroll over the next two plus seasons and have ostensibly (barring any sort of miracle salary dump) taken themselves completely out of the SUPER HYPED Free Agent Summer of Love in 2010.  Rad’s contract has a player option in 2010 at $6.8 million where Morrison’s deal paying him around $5.3 will expire after next season. ADVANTAGE: LAKERS.

2. TALENT. So why exactly would you take on another $8mil for a guy (Radmanovic) who’s been averaging a 12.0 PER over the last three seasons???  Maybe it’s because the guy that you are trading (Morrison) has been setting a new standard for uselessness during the same time.  Morrison goes to the Lakers with a whopping 6.02 PER!!!!!  That’s even lower than his rookie campaign two years ago when he clocked in a dubious 7.91 (UGGHHH).  Also Radmanovic has actually had some success in the NBA in terms of starting for a conference champion team (’08 Lakers), in the running for Most Improved Player (in Seattle ’04) and has been in and around the League enough to figure out the pro game — something that Morrison has never shown.  Plus, having Morrison around is a CONSTANT reminder to Michael Jordan and Bob Johnson that they royally screwed up in the 2006 Draft.  I mean, every time the ‘Cats play against Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay, MJ must be going through one of those “THE WRONG SON DIED!!!!” melodramatic meltdowns when looking down the bench and seeing Chris Cornell with his head in his hands.  ADVANTAGE: BOBCATS.

3. PSYCHOLOGY.  As the headline says, the Bobcats traded away one weirdo for another one.  On one hand you have a troubled but genuinely good kid who is a long way from home, who came into the League with a lot of hype and who has valiantly continued his career in spite of having diabetes.  On the other hand you have what many around the League refer to as a “Space Cadet” or “My Favorite Martian” or “Caveman” who’s level of play changes more frequently than his hairstyle.  He forgets assignments, loses focus, lies about snowboarding accidents that occurred over an ALL STAR WEEKEND (??!!??) and is generally erratic.  Advantage Lakers, right?  No so fast.  Yeah, the Space Cadet is a nut-job but AT LEAST he’s going to give you some productivity every once an a while, which is — I’m very sad to admit– a lot more than the ‘Cats have received from a depressed Morrison in the last two and a half years.  ADVANTAGE: DRAW.

Bobcats fans should probably expect to see another deal or two go down before the trade deadline as Bonnell has mentioned in his latest blog entry.  There now seems a chance that the ‘Cats are even willing to trade DJ Augustin (perhaps packaged with Nazr) in exchange for a veteran backup PG and some shooting guard depth.  Will Charlotte make the playoffs this season?  The odds are slim given all of the trade chaos and the injuries to key players (Bell/Wallace/Augustin) but I’m liking the aggressiveness that Brown and Jordan are exhibiting and I haven’t given up all hope for a late season push into the post-season.

Things just get more interesting from here, ‘Cats fans…



What’s up with the Bobcats getting all international all of a sudden.  How many foreign players did the Hornets ever employ in their 12+ seasons in Charlotte?  George Zidek?  Vlade Divac?  The ‘Cats are more multi-lingual than the Raptors these days.  Between Raja Bell, ‘Gana Diop, Boris Diaw, Alexis Ajinca and now Radman, Charlotte may as well be using the Spurs scouting department.  Bring on Ricky Rubio dammit!

Charlotte Bobcats @ Lakers 1/27/09


1.  Lots of drama out on the West Coast, as the Bobcats beat the Lakers in double OT, 117-100.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats have now defeated the Lakers five out of the last six times they’ve matched up, and move to 1-1 on the current road trip and 19-26 overall.

2.  Quick television notes: this one was picked up by NBATV, giving Charlotte their first nationally televised game of the regular season (we did have a preseason game with the Lakers televised by TNT back in October).  I’m actually watching in HD on FSN Carolinas HD — the first time I’ve been able to see one of these HD telecasts on Time Warner.  Looks great, wish all the road games were in HD like this.

3.  Since this one’s a 10:30 PM ET start, I’m going to be writing as the game goes.  Nice pregame show with lots of comments from Raja Bell about guarding Kobe, a confident Juwan Howard essentially predicting a victory, and lots of talk about the Bobcats spirited performances against the Lakers in the past.

Speaking of, ever since Ari dissed the Cats, it hasn’t gone so well for the Lakers against us.

4.  First quarter is a good one for the Cats, as the starters play well and get out to a 23-16 lead.  All five starters scored, with Gerald Wallace playing particularly well.  Crash was very aggressive going to the basket, getting 10 points on 4 layups and a dunk.  The Lakers, meanwhile, were flat and oddly out of synch.  Kobe was 0-4, but Bynum was strong, going for 10 points/7 rebounds in the quarter.

5.  The second quarter saw the Lakers roar back, doubling their first quarter output and cutting the Bobcats lead to 49-48.  Kobe heated up and scored 12 in the quarter,  Bell had a rough sequence guarding him midway through the quarter, picking up three fouls in less than a minute.

The Cats second unit of Sean Singletary, Shannon Brown, Adam Morrison, Juwan Howard and Gana Diop saw significant minutes in the quarter (though always with one of the starters — never all together) and didn’t totally crap the bed, so that’s something.  Gerald Wallace came out early in the quarter and didn’t come back due to back spasms — he briefly came back to the bench with a heating pad on, but then left for the locker room again.  Hopefully this is just a minor thing…

Tough ending to the quarter: with a little over a minute left, Diaw gets a steal from Bynum, and the Bobcats run out for a fast break, which ends with a beautiful Raymond-to-Shannon alley-oop for a 47-40 lead.  However, the Lakers quickly went back the other way, and found Gasol back cherry-picking behind Morrison.  Adam tried to foul, but caught Gasol awkwardly on the arm/head as he slipped in the dunk.  Flagrant foul, Gasol hits the free throw, then Kobe hits a jumper for a 5 point possession.  Ouch.

6.  Wallace is back out for the third quarter and looking fine.  Ariza apparently suffered a concussion at some point in the first half and won’t be returning — I didn’t catch that at all.  Anyways, strong third quarter for the starters again, Felton in particular.  Adam Morrison punctuated things with a tough three pointer on the Bobcats last possession to push the lead out to 76-70.

7.  Fourth quarter begins with a bang, as Shannon hits a tough three to extend the lead to 79-70.  However, things get stagnant and we’re still stuck on 79 several minutes later.  Gerald picks up offensive fouls on two straight possessions, then a technical arguing the second one, so the Lakers cut it to 79-78.  Diop gets a tip in to stop the bleeding for the Bobcats.  Midway through the quarter, and the Cats and Lakers are playing even-up basketball.  Crucial stretch comes with just under five minutes left, when Boris Diaw goes on a little personal run to bump the Bobcats out to a 90-83 lead.

Then a killer: Crash has an open lane to the basket and takes off, only to be met by Andrew Bynum.  Bynum’s a bit late closing off the lane, and throws a brutal elbow right to Gerald’s exposed ribs as he was lifting towards the basket.  Gerald goes down in a heap, stays down, and has to leave the game.  Flagrant foul on Bynum gives us two free throws and the ball, but Raja Bell blows both free throws.  On the next possesion, Diaw gets fouled but also misses both of his free throws.  Meanwhile, Kobe is taking over with seven straight points, then an assist to Derek Fisher for a huge three pointer that ties the game with 15 seconds left.  WIth the game on the line, you know who’s taking the shot for the Bobcats: Raymond Felton.  Ray shakes free for a decent look at a 20 footer at the buzzer, but misses short and we’re off to overtime.  Five missed free throws in the final minute of regulation — ugh…

8.  Overtime begins ominously, with the LA crowd buzzing and the Lakers looking sharp in scoring the first 6 points of the period.  Bobcats battle back, though, and down three with forty seconds left, Shannon Brown induces Kobe’s sixth foul — DQ.  Diaw then gets a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 103 with 30 seconds left.  Another missed, golden opportunity follows, as Okafor knocks the ball away from Gasol in the post and has a chance to come up with the ball, but it eventually squirts away out of bounds off the Bobcats with six seconds left. Miraculously, Diaw tips the inbounds away from Odom and Shannon Brown secures the steal, timeout Bobcats.  Five seconds left, inbounds to Diaw, who gets smothered by good Laker defense and barely even gets a shot up.  Double OT, Bobcats/Lakers, again.

9.  2nd OT, no Kobe, no Gerald Wallace.  Shannon Brown steps up huge for the Cats, with a putback, then a big three pointer.  But Bynum is big for the Lakers, and we’re at 112-110 Bobcats up with a minute left.  Okafor hits a clutch baseline 12-footer to go up 114-110, then forces a Bynum miss on the other end.  The Lakers are now forced to foul, and Felton hits both to push the lead to 116-110.  Okafor hits one more free throw to close the scoring, and the Bobcats win it 117-110.  Larry Brown gets treated like the old friend that he is to the Lakers celeb fans, getting congrats, hugs and handshakes courtside from Andy Garcia, Lou Adler, and Jack Nicholson.

10.  Phew!  What a game — so many solid individual performances tonight.  As usual, all of the Bobcats starters were solid.  Raymond Felton was one assist away from a triple-double: 22 pts/11 rebs/9 assists with only 2 turnovers.  Boris Diaw was one assist and one rebound away: 23 pts/9 rebs/9 assists.  And Shannon Brown was huge off the bench, with 14 points.  But the glow of this win will quickly fade, as the Bobcats will have to deal with Gerald Wallace’s rib injury and a tough back-to-back game against the Trailblazers on Wednesday night.

11.  Some postgame notes/links: The DJ Augustin injury has necessitated a quieting of all the Raymond Felton trade rumors; meanwhile Felton’s strong, steady recent play has had many Bobcats fans lamenting the seemingly inevitable trade.  But wait, Bonnell is now estimating that the probability Felton gets traded has dropped to about 30%.  I’m an unabashed Raymond Felton apologist, but not moving him while we can get something back for him would be a huge mistake.  Augustin is the future at PG, so we may as well hand over the keys now.  There are several teams that could use a PG like Felton down the stretch, so it would seem that we could get an interesting player or pick in exchange for him.  Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford estimates the chances of a Felton trade at 75%.