Bobcats Blow Fourth Quarter Lead In Loss To Raptors

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Raptors, 3/29/10


The Charlotte Bobcats dropped another winnable game to the Toronto Raptors, 103-101, on Monday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats led by six points to start the final period before falling behind.  A mad scramble in the closing 90 seconds resulted in one last chance for the Cats, down two, to tie or win.  However, Raymond Felton couldn’t connect with a cutting Tyson Chandler and the ball bounced out of bounds to ensure the loss.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Things looked pretty good for the Cats after three quarters.  No one was playing extraordinarily; instead it was a pretty well-rounded effort.  The Cats had contained Chris Bosh, and kept Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu very much in check.

But some issues lurked.  Stephen Jackson was in full-on “I’m more interested in barking at the refs instead of beating the Raptors” mode after being in foul trouble all game.  The Cats had not been able to turn the Raps over very much (10 Raptor turnovers, only 7 fast break points for the Bobcats).  The Cats were outrebounded 38-31.

Furthermore, the Cats had not taken enough advantage of the Raptors notoriously bad defense (only 24 points in the paint).  Being without the high-flying antics of  Tyrus Thomas (ankle) and the low-post scoring of Nazr Mohammed (back, still) didn’t help here, but the Raps also usually give up more penetration into the lane than the Cats were able to manage.

These shortcomings allowed the Raps a chance to make a few clutch shots in the decisive fourth quarter and overcome the Cats.  Jarrett Jack, Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu all hit big threes.  Jarrett Jack then added three free throws after drawing a foul on Raymond outside the arc to push the Raps lead to 100-93 with just under 3 minutes left.

From there, Stephen Jackson’s five straight points and the Raptors’ 3-6 performance from the free throw line conspired to make the finish interesting.  With 13 seconds left, the Cats got the ball down two.  With Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace camped out along the three-point line for the kickout, Raymond Felton drove into the lane, moving from right to left.  As the defense collapsed on Raymond, Tyson Chandler cut to the basket.

If you want to blame it on Tyson, say that he didn’t take a great angle to the basket on his cut (or that he probably wouldn’t have caught the pass if it came right to him — probably true).  If you want to blame it on Raymond (more appropriate) say that he flat-out threw an errant pass.

Whatever you choose, they didn’t connect.  The ball bounced out of bounds with a couple seconds left, leaving the Raps to simply complete an inbounds play to steal the win.

Tidbits

  • I’ll keep my bitching brief, because “he is who he is” and on balance, he’s been a big positive for the Cats.  But if Jack could channel half the vitriol he directs at the officials towards his opponent, he’d get that All-Star recognition he supposedly covets so much.  The Cats would also probably get an extra couple of wins over 82 games.  In the third quarter, after fouling Bargnani, getting under his skin and drawing a tech on the Italian, and hitting the technical free throw, Jack couldn’t stop yapping at the ref about the loose ball foul that started it all, eventually garnering a tech of his own.  Pointless…
  • Tyson Chandler rolled an ankle in the second quarter and left for the the locker room.  After a retape (I presume) he did return.
  • Owner Michael Jordan was back in his benchside seat and got into it with the refs in the fourth quarter when the Raps were taking the game over.  Didn’t help…
  • Shame about that last turnover for Raymond — before it he had played another really nice game with 18 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 3PT), 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
  • The loss drops the Cats to 38-35 and 7th place in the East.  We’re 1.5 games behind 6th place Miami and 2 games ahead of 8th place Toronto.  Tonight’s loss gives Toronto the season series at 2-1, should we finished tied with them.  Hollinger’s playoff odds are currently predicting that we’ll finish in 7th place, 1 game behind Miami.
  • 9 games left: 5 home, 4 away.  Next one is Monday night at home against the 76ers — follow me on Twitter for in-game tweets.

-Dr. E

Larry Hughes To Sign With Bobcats

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hughes

Adam Fleischer of SLAM Magazine broke the news last night on Twitter that Larry Hughes will be signing with the Bobcats in the coming days.  This morning, Rick Bonnell is confirming the news, presumably from a team source.

Hughes is a 12-year NBA journeyman who experienced the best stretch of his career in the early-to-mid 2000s when he was a major cog for the Washington Wizards.  In 2002-03, a budding Hughes was signed by Michael Jordan to relieve His Airness and his balky knees.  That season didn’t go so well, but after Jordan was fired in the offseason, Hughes came back to post the best marks of his career in 2003-04.

He, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas combined to become the highest scoring trio in the league that year and led the Wizards to a 45-37 regular season record and a first round playoff victory over the Chicago Bulls.  Hughes averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and nearly 3 steals a game and was named to the All-Star Team and the All-Defensive 1st Team that year.

That performance bought Hughes a huge free-agent contract in the 2005 offseason, as he was signed by the Cavs to a 5-year, $70 million dollar deal to be LeBron James’ first big sidekick.  Unfortunately, injuries and an overall declining game contributed to things “just not working out” in Cleveland.  This stint resulted in a Cavs fan creating the blog Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots, which amazingly was still being updated with Larry Hughes news as recently as last month.

Hughes’ minutes and scoring average have generally fallen every year since then, as he has bounced around between the Knicks and Bulls.

Hughes has had two career lowlights in the past few seasons.  The first came almost exactly two years ago, when Hughes, then a Bull, made comments to Cavs beatwriter Mark Windhorst that his goal as an NBA player was not necessarily to win, or win a championship.  Instead, Hughes indicated that he could be just as happy collecting his check and playing the way he preferred, which presumably was to be running the wing and jacking up a lot of shots — even if that didn’t translate to winning.

The comments essentially amounted to sacrelige and Hughes’ reputation has suffered greatly since then.  It hasn’t helped that his production has continued to decline, either.

Hughes second lowlight came earlier this season when he suffered the ignominy of riding the bench for the New York Knicks.  Now we may have to look back upon this from a slightly different angle as Mike D’Antoni’s wunderkind “7 seconds or less” reputation as a coach is increasingly taking a beating as time goes on, but the fact remains that Hughes was essentially deemed useless by a 22-44 team this year.

On February 18th, the Knicks sent Larry Hughes to the Kings as part of the Tracy McGrady trade.  At the time, Hughes was out with a broken finger, but was expected to be waived or bought out regardless.  On February 23rd, he was indeed waived, which freed him up to sign with any team down the stretch once his finger healed.  Which brings us to this weekend…

Life As A Bobcat

Hughes is a 6’4 or 5″ combo guard who will essentially fill Flip Murray’s role.  This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Larry Brown is currently without his beloved “veteran third point guard” and couldn’t have been expected to go on much longer without such a trope/security blanket.

Beyond the fact that Michael Jordan brought Larry Hughes to the Washington Wizards back in 2002, Hughes has even deeper connections to the Bobcats — Larry Brown drafted and coached him to start his career in Philadelphia, and per Wikipedia, Hughes is a childhood friend of rapper and Bobcats minority owner (still?) Nelly.

Whether Hughes has anything left in the tank, or whether he’s willing to sublimate his ego enough to play spot minutes as a combo guard (sorta the role he bristled at in Cleveland) remains to be seen.

Perhaps most concerning for Bobcats fans is that the departure of Flip Murray has been associated with the rejuvenation of DJ Augustin and the emergence of rookie Gerald Henderson (maybe “emergence” is a bit strong, I know).  If Hughes’ presence results in any regression for these two young players, Bobcats fans will certainly be up in arms.

More likely than not, though, Hughes simply represents a cheap “insurance” option for the Cats, should Felton or Augustin suffer an injury down the stretch, or Henderson prove to be completely unprepared for even short stints of playing time in a pressure-filled playoff game.  Here’s hoping we don’t have to rely too much on him, though.

-Dr. E

Bobcats Get By Clippers; Wallace Leaves With Sprained Ankle

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Clippers 3/12/10

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their fifth straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 106-98 at the Cable Box on Friday night.  Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats with 24 points (9-21 FG) and 6 assists.  The Clippers actually outshot the Cats 57.5% to 54.2%, but committed 23 turnovers and were outrebounded by the Cats 36-30.

AP recap here |  Box score here

The Cats built a 61-45 lead by halftime, then coasted through the second half, withstanding a half-hearted fourth quarter push by the rag-tag, Eric Gordon-less Clippers.  With the win, the Cats move to 33-31 overall, 6th place in the East, and ensured their best ever home record with their 24th victory at the Cable Box.

But it was a play right at the end of the first half that will be causing Cats fans consternation in the coming days.

Crash

With the Cats already on a 6-0 run and causing the Clippers all sorts of problems closing out the first half, Gerald Wallace poked the ball away from Baron Davis.  Wallace had been dominant in the first half, with 17 points (7-8 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  The loose ball went to Stephen Jackson, who flipped it ahead to Wallace, already at full speed.  Gerald flew down the court with just seconds left on the clock, a step or two ahead of Baron.  But as Gerald took off and glided towards the basket, Baron caught up enough to make some contact.

Most of the contact he made was basically a cheap push in Gerald’s lower back with his left hand.  Gerald was fully extended and essentially defenseless, and was sent careening towards the basket support in a manner that we’ve certainly seen in the past, but not this season.  Gerald landed awkwardly on his left ankle and immediately grabbed for it.

Larry Brown soon made his way over as Gerald rolled around on the floor.  The rest of the bench was up and visibly upset. Raymond Felton fretted with both hands on his head; assistant coach Phil Ford angrily slapped some rolled up papers against his other hand.  Angry boos rained down; Baron’s perfunctory concern for Gerald and the fact that a flagrant foul was called was enough to prevent a minor incident.

Gerald was eventually able to get up and hit one of the two free throws to give the Cats 61-45 halftime lead, but headed straight back to the locker room with the trainers after that.  He reportedly had negative x-rays on the ankle, but did not return to the bench (or the game) for the second half.

With the Bulls having fallen off a cliff without Joakim Noah (and now without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose), there’s no longer much danger of the Cats finishing out of the playoff race.  But we can hardly afford to be without Gerald for too long as we try to jockey for the 6th seed and the right to play Boston (or possibly Atlanta) in the first round.  7th or 8th place buys us a matchup with the Magic or Cavs, respectively.  This season’s victories over the Cavs notwithstanding, both of those series would probably result in the Bobcats getting swept or nearly swept.

6th place or bust — Get Well Soon Gerald!

Lotsa Tidbits

  • David Stern has rubber-stamped Michael Jordan’s purchase of the Bobcats; all that remains is for the league’s board of governors to agree sometime in the next couple of weeks.  In something of a surprise, Stern indicated that the purchase price was around $275 million (not $175 million as had been rumored last week) and that Jordan put up all of the money.  He apparently is still trying to line up minority investors, but still…
  • Gana Diop was apparently planning to dress for tonight’s game, but had dizzy spells after a Thursday workout and will miss several games while getting worked up.  Check the first comment under the post in that link, it says all you need to know about this story — Cats fans are already fantasizing about a career-ending heart condition for Gana and the salary cap relief it would provide.
  • After giving up and selling the Bobcats, Bob Johnson is mercifully killing off his stupid horse-jumping competition.
  • Tyson Chandler had another solid game off the bench: 13 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Here’s some food for thought for the weekend from the Wall Street Journal: there is a 50/50 split in the NBA between teams who employ dedicated statistical/data analysts.  The teams that do have a 60% winning percentage this season, while the teams that don’t are at 40%.  Now I was pretty sure that the Bobcats don’t, but a line in the story seems to contradict that (the line about only the Suns, Hawks and Jazz being the only playoff teams that don’t).  Anyone know for sure if the Cats do?
  • Larry Hughes, anyone?
  • Next game is Sunday evening at 6 PM in Orlando versus Superman and the Magic.

-Dr. E

Mavs Continue Dominance Of Bobcats

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Mavs 3/1/10

The Charlotte Bobcats fell to the Dallas Mavericks at the Cable Box 89-84, falling to 0-12 versus Dirk and Co. all time.  AP recap here, box score here.  After fleetingly moving up into the 8th spot when Miami lost back-to-back games over the weekend, the Cats have fallen back to 9th place in the East at 28-30 overall.

The Cats came out strong in this one, building an early 20-9 lead midway through the first quarter.  Another spurt to end the second had the Cats up 53-43 at the half.  Tyrus Thomas had a great first half, keeping Dirk quiet on the defensive end and pacing the Cats with 12 points.

But the second half was a different story, as the Cats could only muster 31 points the rest of the way and were overtaken midway through the fourth quarter.  The offense looked like a hot mess.

Here’s what you need to know: The Cats had more turnovers (11) in the second half than field goals (9).  Tyrus Thomas led the Cats with 16 FGA.  Gerald Wallace had just 8, with only 1 (a 20 foot jumper) in the deciding fourth quarter.  Stephen Jackson finished with 20 points on 6-14 FG, but spent more time fussing at referees and turning the ball over (6 times) than scoring.  There were three airballs in the fourth quarter, plus a monumental brick by Boris on a three attempt.

Meanwhile, despite decent defensive efforts from Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas, Dirk Nowitzki heated up and finished with 27 on 12-23 FG to put the Cats away.  Caron Butler went for 22 on 10-16 FG, while Jason Terry contributed 20 on 8-17 FG off the bench.  The Mavericks are now the hottest team in the league with 8 wins in a row.

Fading

Why did the Cats fade so badly after a solid first half?  You could argue that the Cats don’t have a go-to guy like Dirk, who can get buckets and draw double-teams.  You’d be partially right, but in Stephen Jackson we have the closest thing we’ve ever had to that guy, and he’s been pretty good this season.

You could argue that the pressure of facing the elite Mavericks, knowing that they were winless against them all-time, got to the Cats and caused some tightness.  I couldn’t prove you wrong.  It’s certainly happened before.

But tonight it appeared that the main factor was fatigue.  I tweeted halfway through the fourth quarter that the Bobcats looked to have “run out of gas” and I was right.  You could just feel the exhaustion and sense that the Mavs had more in the tank.  (Sad, since they were coming off a late back-to-back AND are more veteran-heavy than the Cats are.)

We’ve been worried about it all season.  Gerald Wallace leads the league at 42.4 minutes per game, while Stephen Jackson is sixth at 39.5.  Now look at the the rest of the guys at the top of that list (Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, etc.) — all younger.  Crash and Jack have too many miles on them to be playing 40+ minutes a game regularly, and I fear that we’re starting to see all that court time take a toll.

Tidbits

  • Glad that Jordan finally bought the team, hope it leads to him being around and engaged more often, but I could care less whether he plays HORSE with Gerald Henderson at shootaround or gladhands local politicians.  Wake me when he does some real homework and makes a good first round draft selection, or shows some understanding of the salary cap.
  • No Nazr (back spasms), Chandler (foot/ankle) or Diop (knee) tonight.  Really could use Nazr back playing 15-20 mins, then Theo playing 10.  Might allow Gerald to get a couple more minutes of rest.
  • So the Cats won’t be signing Larry Hughes or Mike James, but what about Michael Finley?  Sounds like he’s headed for the Celtics or Lakers, and not sure how much he brings to the table anymore, but you’d hope that Jordan/Higgins at least make a call.  Is Finley still a Brand Jordan guy?
  • Next game is Wednesday night in Boston — sounds like Pierce will be back in the lineup.

-Dr. E

Charlotte Bobcats™ © MJ Basketball Holdings, LLC

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Will MJ Follow Bob Johnson's Footsteps or Jerry Richardson's?

Postolos Posterized.

It’s official.  MJ came through in the clutch as he did time and time again during his playing days.  We all assumed that the George Postolos Group had the game wrapped up with just seconds to go on the clock but in a surprising turn of events, Jordan did to Postolos what he did to another geeky white guy 21 years ago – schooled him at the buzzer.  I’m not comparing Postolos to Craig Ehlo – the former Rockets president has a much more impressive resume – but we may have forgotten for a moment that we were dealing with the most competitive athlete in the history of professional sports.  MJ would NEVER have allowed himself to be outbid by a nerdy pencil pusher from Texas.  MJ posterized Postolos.

So Now What? (On the Court)

Massive changes would’ve occurred had the Postolos Group gained control the franchise.  Coach Larry Brown publicly announced earlier in the season that he’d walk away from the team (“preposterous!“) if MJ weren’t involved in the team’s ownership.  Friends of Mike featuring GM Rod Higgidy-Higgins and President Fred Whitfield would have certainly been cut loose.  There’s a great chance that Postolos would’ve rebuilt the roster as soon as this offseason, trading veterans for cap space and draft picks.

Now that Jordan is firmly in charge, it’s hard to imagine any major shift in philosophy from a basketball perspective.  Coach Brown will most likely honor his current contract and return next season.  The team will presumably retain its top veteran players and try to improve itself through trades and overlooked free agents during the summer.  Jordan has made most of the basketball decisions for the team since the summer of ’06 so we should know what to expect by now: Crappy Draft Picks (Morrison, Augustin), Quality Trades (Jackson, Diaw, Thomas), and So-So Free Agent Signings (Good: Gerald Wallace, Bad: Matt Carroll).

So Now What? (Off the Court)

This is the tricky part.  For the NBA to succeed in Charlotte, the team will need an owner who’s capable of conducting “Charlotte Business.”  You know, Good ‘ol BoyHow’s Yer Mama and Daddy – kind of business.  The kind that attracts big regional partnerships and sponsorships.  Very local, very social, very political, very congenial and (most importantly) very accessible.  I’m not so sure that MJ is any of these things quite yet.  Sure, he gets a partial-pass simply for being the greatest NBA player of all time and for being a local High School & Collegiate star but that only goes so far.  It reminds of another Nike superstar’s homecoming.

Don’t Pull a Tiger Woods (It’s not what you think)

My father’s side of the family is Thai-Chinese and in the early 90s golf became the leisure sport of choice in Thailand thanks in large part due to the country’s sunny, tropical climate, low labor cost and (relatively) low real estate values.  Wealthy Japanese businessmen could fly into Bangkok, shoot a few rounds of golf, take in a few days at a luxury resort and be back in Osaka or Tokyo by Monday morning all for less money than playing a single round in The Land of the Rising Sun.  As a kid I saw my father’s wealthy Thai friends begin to emulate the Japanese golfers and then a few years later the middle class jumped in and all of a sudden Thailand was golf-crazy. 
CUT TO:
Around the turn of the millenium the greatest golfing talent the world has ever witnessed shows up on the scene and miraculously (seemingly by the grace of the bodhisatva Ben Hogan) he is half-Thai.  So Tiger Woods visits Bangkok and is fawned over by all and bestowed every honor available in the Siamese book and the people love him.  For about a year.  Maybe two.  Nowadays nobody even really talks about.  He’s just the dude who wears expensive Tag watches and bangs a bunch of chicks on the side.  So what.  All rich Thai guys do that.

Tiger missed out on becoming a national hero because he didn’t become part of the community.  He didn’t attempt to learn the language, the culture, teach or coach young Thai golfers — nothing.  He just showed up, picked up a huge check from the local golf promoters and said “sawadee – peace out.”

Michael Jordan is a global icon but is going to have to learn to do local.  It’s like one of those hackneyed Hollywood star vehicles in which the city folk have to “rough it” in the country – only to find that the small town life is what they were after all along.  Jordan is going to have to kiss babies and go to mega (and mini) churches and speak with local business groups and donate to local charities.  And unlike George Shinn, Jordan is going to have to be genuine about it.  The good news is that MJ has a model to follow just down the street from The Cable Box.  Jerry Richardson is another former athlete who has succeeded as a business entrepreneur and a professional sports owner.

The Ballad of Bob & Jerry

I walked into the Dilworth Harris Teeter just hours before the Bobcats made their ’06-’07 debut at the then unnamed Uptown Arena.  As I hit the snack aisle, Bob Johnson walks past.  I quickly turn to offer a few words of encouragement but before I can open my mouth he’s bolted off to the frozen foods.  This was strange because A.) We Clearly made Eye Contact and B.) I was dressed in FULL BOBCATS gear that included an authentic Bobcats Warmup, Bobcats Beanie and Primoz Brezec jersey.  Keep in mind that this was during a time in which most Charlotteans didn’t even know what the Bobcats were and couldn’t tell Brevin Knight apart from Urkle.
By chance, I walked past him two more times and finally ended up standing behind him at the checkout line.  The friendly HT checkout person tried chatting him up southern-style.  “Bob Johnson!  How are you doing sir!  Got a big game tonight.  Wish you the best!”  Johnson acknowledged her with a grunt and an uncomfortable smile, shoved some money in the cashier’s hand and then made a B-Line for the chauffuered Mercedes getaway car screeching to a halt immediately to the left of those vile, bourgeois tinted automatic exit doors.  The man seemed less sour than he seemed borderline autistic.

Contrast this to a chance encounter I had with Mr. Richardson outside of a Joseph A. Bank in South Charlotte.  Mr. Richardson rose gently from the driver’s seat of a vintage luxury sedan, pulled a couple of plastic covered suits from the back seat and limped into the shop.  I caught him on the sidewalk and quickly thanked him for his contribution to the city.  Richardson thanked me in return for supporting the team and continued along his way.  That’s all it took.  I care about basketball around two hundred times more than I care about football but I’ll always follow the Panthers because the owner is a class act.  Stories like these abound.  In an opinionated age in which most sports owners are viewed as an obstacle between fan and team success, Jerry Richardson is beloved.

MJ would be wise to take note: Be like Jerry, not like Bob.

–ASChin


POLL : NEW OWNER - AIR JORDAN

  • Great For Charlotte
    (57%, 51 Votes)
  • Postolos = Better Option
    (7%, 6 Votes)
  • Not a Big Change
    (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Good Bye Bob Johnson
    (25%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 89

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Bobcats Salvage Road Trip In Memphis

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Grizzlies, 2/26/10

The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 93-89 on Friday night to wrap up their 4-game road trip at 1-3.  AP recap here, box score here.

This game was not televised locally, and the news that Michael Jordan will become the controlling owner of the team is overshadowing, so our comments on the game will be pithy.

Needless to say, after dropping the first three games of this road trip, 7 of the last 10 overall and falling out of the eighth spot in the East, this was nearly a must-win.  On top of all that, we have the Mavs, Celtics and Lakers this coming week.

As of Saturday, the Cats are still on the outside looking in regarding the playoffs, a half game back of 8th place Miami.  Both the Bulls (currently 6th) and Bucks (currently 7th) are have won 8 of their last 10 to push the Cats back out.  Basically, every game is huge the rest of the way, and the Cats should be happy to have a relatively benign and home-heavy schedule down the stretch.

The Cats will take the weekend off to rest up, while continuing to work Tyrus Thomas and Theo Ratliff in the mix.  Hopefully, we can get Nazr back to bolster the frontline.  Next game is Monday night, 7 PM ET, hosting Dirk and the Mavs at the Cable Box.

-Dr. E

Balanced Clipper Attack Sends Bobcats Under .500

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Charlotte Bobcats @ LA Clippers 2/23/10

Charlotte can’t overcome Stephen Jackson’s worst game as a Bobcat as they lose 98-94 to the Clips on the road, falling a game below .500 (27-28) and deadlocked with Milwaukee for 8th place in the Conference.  The ‘Cats trail early, turn the ball over, play defense for around two thirds of the game and can’t withstand a late charge by the home team.  Any of this sound familiar?

AP recap here | Box score here

He Was Due for One

The story of the game for the Bobcats has to be Stephen Jackson’s “Jamison“-like stinkbomb.  JAX went 1-16 from the field and ended up fouling out late in the fourth with 7pts, 5asts, 5TOs, and 6 boards.  He never got it going and the ‘Cats threw away a winnable road game thanks to the backcourt’s poor shooting.  JAX and backup point guard D.J. Augustin combined to go 2-24 from the field.  Ouch.
Jackson was lucky to not be T’d up several times as he repeatedly directed his frustration onto the officials.  Before tonight’s game, JAX had scored in double figure in ALL of his 45 games with the Bobcats.

The fact that Jackson’s stinker came a day after his “tired from fatigue” comments doesn’t bode well for a team that has no real backup at the shooting guard position.  Hopefully the coaches will stop rubber cementing Gerald Henderson to the bench from this point on.
One positive note from this development: It did seem as if Jackson’s frustration came from his inability to help his teammates when they needed him, rather than some ego-fueled scorer’s rage.  You like to see that in a player.

How ‘Bout Them Clippers!

For people still wondering why Mike Dunleavy is still employed in any capacity, just take a look at the talented roster he’s assembled in the past couple of years:

  • Baron Davis: B-Diddy can still bring it when he’s motivated and has at least another 3-4 solid years in him.
  • Chris Kaman: Has mastered the 15-foot pick & pop, is a solid rebounder and has apparently vowed to add a 3-point shot to his arsenal in the next two years.
    Too bad that Hollywood has moved on to 3D for all of its monsters, freaks & aliens.  Kaman could have picked up a lot of side-work in the offseason as sort of a poor man’s Peter Mayhew.
  • Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin: Three solid prospects picked in the last few drafts, two of which have All-Star potential.
  • Craig Smith, Travis Outlaw: Talented guys in their mid-20s who could definitely be in the rotation for a contending club.
  • Steve Blake, Rasual Butler, Drew Gooden: Quality “Rent-a-Veteran” players who make enough plays every night to put your team in a position to win.

Add in a MAXplayer like Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh (they have the cap space to do it) and a real coach and this team could be VERY GOOD next year.

The Clips went nine deep tonight and (unlike the Bobcats, who essentially got production from five guys with Nazr out with a back and D.J./JAX ineffective), ALL NINE PLAYERS contributed.  It was death by a thousand cuts with Butler dropping corner threes at will, Eric Gordon scoring the ball from everywhere on the court and Baron balling in spurts like it was the year 2000.  Six players dropped double figures for LA while new backup PG Steve Blake notched 7 assists.  Good times to be a Clips fans.

Who Steps Up?

The Bobcats rallied hard in the third quarter when they erased the Clips’ 13-point lead at the 6:36 mark and went up 64-62.  They couldn’t hold on as no one (aside from Boris Diaw) could step up their game in Jax’s absence.  Gerald Wallace had one of his super-stats games (32pts, 12rbs, 4steals, 5asts) but he’s not the team’s Go-To guy in the 4th.  That’s JAX’s job and tonight he just wasn’t delivering.  Raymond tried but couldn’t do it.  Boris was aggressive and could have nailed a three with 2:50 to go that would have put the Cats up by six but it rimmed out.
The Bobcats will need to find a strategy that will allow them to win games even if their clutch scorer is cold.  Hope they figure it out soon.

Bullets:

  • Tyrus Thomas (10pts, 4rbs, 3blks) showcased both a fifteen AND a twenty footer.  He also had a nice post scoop & score on Jordan in the second half from the block.  Didn’t realize he had these moves already.  Hopefully LB will stick around at least for another season to help tutor T2 to the next level.
  • Diaw looked great tonight and nearly logged the franchise’s first triple double with 20pts, 9rbs, 9asts.  He looked aggressive and alert.  Clippers broadcast team was gushing over him all night.
  • As much as I loved Crash’s line tonight, I HATED the number in the minutes column: 48.  How is this team going to make the Playoffs when the top two guys are already running on fumes?  Coach Brown needs to suck it up and let Gerald Henderson & Derrick Brown play through some mistakes.  Besides, they can’t be any worse than Augustin, right?
  • Who would you rather have: DeAndre Jordan ($736,000) or Tyson Chandler ($12 ka-gillion)?
  • Bobcats should be sold by the end of the month.  Word has it that MJ has until the 28th to match the Postolos Group offer.  We’ll have an in-depth article on this later on in the week.

Until Next Time…Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin