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.