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

Baseline Observations : Rockets @ Bobcats 3.13.09


Rockets defeat Bobcats 3.13.2009

The Charlotte Bobcats let a close one slip away against the Houston Rockets on Friday the 13th.  Like a true NBA competition, it all came down to crunch time.

Box Score | Recap 

Throughout all four quarters, this was a tight game with each team trading the lead and “mini-runs” to counter each other.  The largest player on the court was also the the most dominant – Yao Ming.  There was really no answer for Yao, who showed a full array of post moves, defense, and shooting range.  The Bobcats focused most of their defense on quieting the rest of the Rockets and accepting their fate against Yao in the paint.  Obviously facing a tough match, Emeka Okafor had no luck offensively early in the game and he was visibly tired from his work inside against the 7’6″ center.  Larry Brown chose to plug Desagana Diop into the game to rest Okafor, and his fresh legs may have helped to restrain Yao briefly.

Elsewhere on the court, Boris Diaw was caught in early foul trouble and Vlade Radmanovic benefited from a bump in first half minutes.  He really took advantage of the opportunity during the second quarter with a series of drives and great outside shooting.  Rad Man really used his assignment on Brent Barry well.  Barry is an easy cover for a player as big as Vlade and couldn’t catch up as the Serbian came off screens.  While neither team was explosive on offense in the first half, Gerald Wallace found his usual numbers by playing like Gerald Wallace.  More importantly, he kept Ron Artest from finding a rhythm in the first half.

The Rockets have a force of a trio in Yao Ming, Ron Artest, and Shane Battier.  All can score in the paint, play strong defense, and hit mid-range shots.  The Bobcats survived the first half with only Yao scoring well.  The third quarter saw Charlotte struggling to knock down shots and Houston’s trio warming up.  Both Raymond Felton and Raja Bell threw repeated bricks at the rim.  Bell didn’t register a shot for the entire quarter.  Boris Diaw couldn’t find consistency in his offense and after a quick foul, he had to play a bit softer than usual on Luis Scola.  Scola took advantage of the match up and showed his inside game, taking Diaw into the paint at every chance.

Despite their struggles on offense, the Bobcats entered the fourth quarter down only by 5 points.  The game became much more intense after a few minutes of the final period.  The Bobcats pushed to close the gap to 3 pts (72-69) with a string of steals that lead to fast break buckets.   Each team then tightened their defense and traded stops before Vlade Radmanovich was fouled shooting a 3 point attempt.  He knocked down 2 of 3 and the Bobcats were only behind by 1 with seven minutes left in the game.

The Rockets regained the lead but after a big steal and save by Raja Bell on Houston’s side of the court, Bell tipped in a put back attempt by Okafor to give Charlotte a 1 point lead.  By this point – it was crunch time.  

Raymond Felton returned to replace DJ Augustin and Gerald Wallace rotated back in for Radmanovich. Augustin had searched for offense the entire game with little success shooting or creating assists.  He frequently lost track of the perimeter shooters when driving into the lane.  The inside presence of the Rockets didn’t allow DJ a single chance to use his reverse layup move, so he had to pass to the nearest teammate – thus, extinguishing the set play for that possession.  In contrast, Felton attempted shots when the opportunity presented itself and passed based upon what he was reading on the court.  The Bobcats guards came up big in the final stretch of the game.  Although Raja Bell had shot a terrible 2 of 12 going into the 4th, he was determined to keep shooting.  Luckily, he started hitting the baskets that the Cats needed.

It looked like a rough ending for Charlotte at 2:08 left in the fourth.  But there was still more action to come.  With the shot clock running down on the Rockets Yao Ming caught a pass at the top of the key and knocked down a three pointer (his first of the season) to push Houston’s lead to 6.  Coach Brown called a time out and somehow things started to click.  Raja Bell answered with a 3 and then Diaw put in a quick layup after a Felton steal to close the deficit to 1 point.

On the next possession, Ron Artest was determined to make a big play and held the ball longer than anyone had all game.  Gerald Wallace matched him move for move and as Yao Ming attempted to set a screen for Artest he fouled Wallace turning possession over to the Bobcats.  Less than a minute was left in the game and Charlotte need to score.  Okafor missed a close attempt inside against Yao, but the ball bounced back to the direction of Raja Bell who shot it off the glass and through the rim.  Cats took the lead 86 – 85, but that didn’t last long.  Ron Artest shook Gerald Wallace off of him and hit an open shot from the top of the key to put the Rockets ahead by 1.  Following a miss by Raja Bell (his first of the fourth quarter), the Bobcats had to play the foul game. After Aaron Brooks put in two free throws, a three pointer was Charlotte’s only hope of tying the game.  Unfortunately, Ron Artest saw the play coming from a mile away and blocked Radmanovich’s attempt with 7 seconds left, snatched up the ball, and put it in on a fast break to seal the game.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Rockets 2/22/09


1.  Inauspicious start to the road trip on Sunday afternoon, as the Cats suffer a blowout loss to the Houston Rockets, 99-78.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats fall to 22-34 and have now fallen 4.5 games back from the 8th playoff spot.

2.  This one was a two point game at halftime (44-42), but the Rockets absolutely dominated in the third quarter and, to a lesser extent, the fourth.  The two pictures above are apropos of the tone of this game.  The Rockets were rougher and tougher, knocking the Bobcats around and preventing anyone from getting their offense going.  The Cats only managed 14 points in that decisive third quarter.

3.  For the second straight game, the Cats had more turnovers (21) than assists (15).  The shooting was terrible: 36% FG and 21% 3PT.  No one was any more egregious than anyone else.  Check the box score, everyone’s stats are equally mundane.

4.  The only thing that does stand out in the box score for the Bobcats is Gerald Wallace’s -24 +/-.  Wallace managed a double-double with 11 and 10, but only took 8 shots, had four turnovers and fouled out after drawing a personal and a tech with a few minutes left in the game.  Oh, and the aforementioned brutal +/-.

Except for the Indiana game, Gerald has not been the same since coming back from his busted rib and partially collapsed lung.  Let’s hope he gets his groove back on the road trip.

5.  The Rockets look pretty good without McGrady.  Artest was on tonight; he led the way for them with 26 points on 9-15 FG and 5-7 3PT as the Bobcats again struggled to defend the perimeter after devoting extra defensive attention to the opposition’s low post threat (Yao, in tonight’s case).

So anyways, the Rockets were plenty good enough to beat the Bobcats tonight, but when they hit the playoffs they’re going to need a bit more offense.  Artest won’t go 5-7 from three-point land on a regular basis; Von Wafer isn’t striking fear in the hearts of opposing 2 guards.

6.  One minor quibble with the coaching down the stretch.  When the Bobcats were down by 20 points with under seven minutes left, why were Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, and Emeka Okafor still in the game?

I can buy Okafor, as he is a Houston native and Brown is committed to these sentimental college coaching manuevers like “the homecoming game”.

But since he has stubbornly resisted sending Alexis Ajinca to the D-League, you’d think he’d be on the lookout for opportunites to get him some meaningful experience playing American-style basketball in game situations.  Right?  Nope, another DNP-CD for Freedom Fries while Gerald, Boris and Emeka play out garbage time.

7.  That’s all I got tonight, folks.  Hopefully we’ll have something positive to talk about after the next game.

Next up is an always-tough-despite-the-opponents road back-to-back: Tuesday against the Suns (9 PM ET) and Wednesday against the Kings (10 PM ET).