Charlotte Bobcats vs. Clippers 2/9/09


1.  The Bobcats hold serve at home tonight against the aimless LA Clippers, 94-73.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats go to 20-31; still 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot.

2.  The final score is just a tad misleading.  This was an ugly, sloppy and close game in the first half.  The Bobcats pulled away a bit in the third, then put away a tired Clippers squad (finishing up a seven game road trip) in the fourth.

3.  With Gerald Wallace (lung), Raja Bell (groin) and Juwan Howard (toe) out, the Bobcats started with DJ/Felton/Diaw/Okafor/Diop.  New guy Vladimir Radmanovich, despite not having gone through a practice with the team yet, was the first reserve off the bench and ended up playing almost 30 minutes.

And Sean May played for the first time December 11.   I’m pretty sure that I heard as recently as last week that he was still 6-8 pounds away from making weight, and I know he can’t lose a pound a day, so I was surprised to see him out there.  He logged 6 minutes spanning the first and second quarters — and shouldn’t have.  Within seconds of coming in he mishandled a Diaw pass for a turnover (charged to Diaw) and looked very tentative and rusty in general.

4.  Let’s not bury the lead here, though.  The story of the game was the successful debut of Radmanovich.  He looked uncomfortable in the first half, but got in a groove later, and ended with 13 points (5-10 FG, 3-5 3PT), 4 rebounds and 2 assists.  All three of his made three-pointers came during the decisive fourth quarter.  Needless to say, he’s an upgrade over Morrison.

Since he’s got the rap of being a poor defensive player, I tried to watch him a bit on that end.  While he’s a more athletic defender, and thus a better one, than Morrison, he tended to “freelance” a lot: slacking off his man to shut off some imaginary passing/cutting lane, taking weird routes through screens and such.  Fortunately, the Clippers aren’t good enough to take advantage of that, but it will be interesting to see if a better team can.

5.  Okafor had a nice game, with 19 points (8-14 FG), 16 rebounds (4 offensive) and 3 blocks.  He was fairly aggressive in making cuts, post moves, and looking for his offense in general.  I guess that’s what you do when you have Zach Randolph guarding you.

Nice game for DJ Augustin, too: 17 points on 7-10 FG.

6.  Mixed bag from Raymond Felton.  Good news: 15 points, 8 assists and a big +21 +/-.  Bad news: 6-16 FG and 6 turnovers.  As a Felton apologist who knows that it’s better for everyone if we trade him before the deadline, I’ve been working hard to divest and disengage myself from him.  It’s coming along pretty well, too.  Instead of an impassioned “Damnit Raymond!” every time he clanged a shot or had a bad turnover, tonight I mostly just nodded knowingly: that’s Raymond.

The way this is going, I should be able to call myself a former Raymond Felton apologist by the time the trade goes down.

7.  Here’s all you need to know about the Clippers, from Marcus Camby:

“The last game of a trip, I’ve been around a long time, I know how these games can be tough… especially right before the All-Star break, you tend to lose a little focus. Your mind is elsewhere.”

The candor is refreshing, it really is.  He might as well have just said: “Eff it, man, I’m exhausted and we suck.  Besides, I’ve got to decide which resort I’m staying at in Cabo for the All-Star break.  Can’t make up my mind…”

8.  So after some of the home games in February, the team is letting some season ticket holders into the backstage area to “send off” the players.  Tonight was my night, and I stayed for about 45 minutes or so — not long enough to see everyone come out, but enough.  Juwan Howard came first, then Singletary, Bell, Felton, Radmanovich, Wallace, Diaw and Ajinca.  All the guys were unfailingly gracious and polite, signing autographs, taking pictures, shaking hands and making small talk with the fans.  Raja Bell was downright chatty; Boris Diaw’s ability to ham it up made him a big hit with the younger fans.

Like most Bobcats fans, my wife’s favorite player is Gerald Wallace.  As he made his way down the line, I tried to goad her into getting a picture with him — see, she’s loathe to bother someone famous with a request like that.  It is sorta embarrassing for both parties on many levels.  Her last line of protest was: “But he always looks so mean, I don’t want to annoy him.”  Alas, she got over it and asked, and here’s the result:

Gerald Wallace and my Wife

So much for looking mean.  Thanks, Gerald!

9.  Next game is the last one before the break: Wednesday night, hosting the Wizards at 7:00 ET.


Charlotte Bobcats vs. Pistons 12/13/08


LB Frustrated

1) Bobcats lose to the visiting Pistons last night 90-86.  AP story here, box score here, game flow here.  Bobcats drop to 7-17, Pistons improve to 13-9.

2) Had to give up my tix for this game, as fellow Baseliner Deesdale picked Saturday night to have his White Elephant Gift Holiday Party.  I brought a Darth Tater, but of course ended up with something decidedly less cool.  I initially stole this “Big Daddy Pimp Cup” from someone; but it was quickly stolen away from me.  I ended up with this crappy Christmas Carol Clock, which, unsurprisingly, was not stolen away from me.  Oh well, great party anyways, Deesdale.

3) The story of this game was the 4th quarter run the Bobcats put on to make the score respectable.  After a predictably ugly first two and a half quarters (Bell and Diaw started despite not even getting in a practice with the team yet; Gerald Wallace was back and rusty after missing 3 games this week due to the death of his grandmother; the Pistons led 51-33 at the half) the Bobcats got into a little groove late in the third quarter and eventually cut a 29 point lead all the way down to 1 with under a minute left in the fourth.

The Cats did this primarily with a lineup of Felton, Augustin, Morrison, Wallace and Hollins against the Pistons reserves: Bynum, Afflalo, Herrmann, McDyess and Maxiell.  With five minutes left, Michael Curry had seen enough and put Stuckey, Rip, Prince and Sheed back in the game – Curry was understandably angry with his reserves after the game.

In a curious move, as the Pistons put their starters back into the game, Larry Brown removed Gerald Wallace, who had been keying the comeback.  No matter, as DJ and Raymond kept the run going.  Raymond hit a tough jumper to cut the lead to seven with under three minutes left, and the crowd was on its feet from then on.  Then with just 30 seconds left, Raymond hit a driving, scoop layup to cut the lead to one.  On the next possession, though, Sheed got an open look at the top and drained a three to put this one away.  Sheed rightfully walked back to his bench giving the “SHHHHHHH” motion to the crowd he had just silenced, and that was that.

4) In his Bobcats debut, Boris Diaw went for 27 minutes, 7 points on 3-10 FGs, 9 rebounds (4 offensive), and 5 assists.  He misfired on a number of jumpers, but otherwise looked strangely aggressive and motivated – something I haven’t seen much from him in years.  The assists were nice – he had a particularly nice feed to Okafor for a dunk.

Though Diaw looks as puffy and untoned as Sean May, he is clearly much quicker.  He is already an upgrade over the struggling and hurting May; and if he can keep rebounding like he did last night and get in sync with the team over the next couple of weeks we might have a decent solution to our PF problem.

5) Speaking of May, he was inactive and looks to be back in injury/doghouse purgatory.  He has tendonitis in one of the knees and has been a bit gimpy this week.  It’s been said that the tendonitis is not necessarily related to the ongoing rehab from his microfracture surgery, but I find that hard to believe.  It’s at least indirectly related to the fact that, from a holistic sense, the dude’s got bad knees, and his bulky body type and inability to modify that will keep his knees bad.  His already borderline NBA-level of athleticism is going to continue to decline on bad knees, so I fear that he could just be on a downward spiral.

With Diaw and Juwan Howard joining the team, Hollins playing well in limited minutes, and Brown looking committed to giving Ajinca minutes, you have to wonder if May might have a lot of DNP-CDs in his future.

6) Raja Bell logged 26 minutes; his jumper was as off the mark as Diaw’s was.  He ended up with just 4 points on 2-9 shooting.  Like Diaw, he also seemed to be a bit overly aggressive and nervously energetic in his Bobcats debut.  Let’s watch as he settles down in the upcoming weeks and settles into his role.

7) Some terrible news this morning, as Bobcats beat writer Rick Bonnell reports that Gerald Wallace’s father has passed away in Alabama.  As noted above, Wallace missed the road trip this week to be with his family in the wake of his grandmother’s death, and now this…

Wallace looked rusty early on this game, but eventually got his rhythm back and finished with a great line: 22 points (7-14 FG, 8-9 FTs), 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks and 1 block.  Despite the line and the big role in the late comeback, his body language was a bit off most of the night.  I initially attributed this to the trade, the ongoing trade rumors, and the death of his grandmother.

Now we have to wonder if he also had his father’s health weighing on his mind.

Gerald will likely miss another game or two next week; our thoughts are with him during this difficult time.

8. Two back-to-backs for the Bobcats this week, all four games have to be considered winnable: Monday night at the Hawks, Tuesday night hosting Chicago.  Then a small break, followed by Friday night at Memphis and Saturday night at home versus the Warriors.