Charlotte Bobcats vs. Wizards 2/11/09


1.  The Bobcats defeat the WIzards 101-89 at the Cable Box Wednesday night to head into the All-Star break with back to back wins.  AP story here, box score here.  Cats go to 21-31 overall, 15-14 at home, and 3-0 against the Wizards this year.

2.  Larry Brown went with their billionth different starting lineup on the year: DJ, Raymond, Radmanovich, DIaw and Okafor.  Wallace, Bell and Howard are still out with injuries.  Cartier Martin was first off the bench and played pretty well.  Sean May again logged a few minutes in the first half.

3.  Antawn Jamison started the game off quickly on a personal 7-4 run, but the Bobcats took the lead a minute later on a Felton layup and never trailed again.  The Cats handily won each of the first three quarters.  The Wizards made a little push in the fourth and cut the lead to six with a few minutes left, but DJ and Radman responded and closed the game out  Overall, the Cats shot 50% from the field and were able to get pretty much whatever the wanted on the offensive end.

This one was so routine that Rufus spent much of the second half in the stands trying to freak people out from behind with a fake spider on the end of a fishing rod.

4.  Lots of nice numbers from the starters from the box score tonight:

DJ Augustin was the high scorer with 24 points (7-12 FG, 4-7 3PT, 6-6 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists (no turnovers) and a +13 +/-.  I continue to be pleasantly surprised by his ability to hit the NBA three.  He would be totally forgiven for taking a year or two to develop reliable NBA three-point range, especially as a smaller guy, but he’s already pretty deadly at 41%.

Raymond Felton had a near triple double with 15 points/9 assists/8 rebounds and 5 steals.  And I hate to nitpick, folks, but here is why we’re better off letting DJ take the reins: Felton shot 7-12 FG (1-3 3PT) and had 4 turnovers.   And it’s not just one game.  Check out Hollinger’s True Shooting Percentage numbers, which take into account free throw and three-point shooting: DJ’s at 56.4%, good enough for 14th best among PGs.  Scroll down to find Felton at 47.2%, 56th best amongst his fellow PGs.

Emeka Okafor played very well, with 16 points (4-7 FG, 8-10 FT) and 13 rebounds.  Those 7 FGAs don’t look like enough, but realize that those 10 FTs really represent another 5 shots.  Okafor was working hard, and his teammates were finding him.

And Radman had another solid game.  He started slow and then heated up as the game went on, just like the other night.  21 points on 8-14 FG and 5-10 3PT.  I was being judicious in the recap of the Clippers game when I called him merely “an upgrade” over Morrison.  Radman is a better shooter, a better athlete, and a better slasher/driver than Morrison.  Most importantly, he’s not terrified out there.

5.  Diaw had an interesting line: 14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 blocks and 7 turnovers.  Yes, seven blocks and seven turnovers.  The former is intersesting because I don’t remember one of those seven blocks — seriously, those were the most quiet seven blocks ever; the latter is worth commenting on because, for all the assists he gets, he throws a lot of risky/bad passes, too.  I think his turnover numbers will naturally fall a little bit as he and his teammates get more accustomed to each other; how much remains to be seen.

6.  So the Cats go into the break on a high note.  No one’s participating in any of the All-Star festivities, which sucks; here’s hoping everyone comes back from the break healthy and well-rested.  First game back is next Tuesday at Orlando.  And let’s keep those Raymond Felton trade rumors flying! (My money’s on Orlando or Dallas.)


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 @ Heat 2/8/09


1.  The Bobcats lose a close one on the road to the Miami Heat, 96-92.  AP story here, box score here.  The Cats have now lost five straight since losing Gerald Wallace in the dramatic win against the Lakers, and fall to 19-31.

2.  With Raja Bell out with a groin strain, and Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown traded away, the Bobcats come out with a makeshift starting lineup of Augustin, Felton, Diaw, Howard and Okafor — which matches up pretty well with Miami’s first five: Chalmers/Wade/Marion/Haslem/Magloire.

Total snoozer of a first half, punctuated by a Heat mini-run that propelled them to a 43-39 halftime advantage.  Wade (duh) led the way for Miami, while DJ and Juwan Howard paced the Bobcats.

3.  The Heat pulled away a bit more in the third quarter, so the Bobcats enter the final period down 69-61.  The Cats fought hard in the fourth, twice cutting the deficit down to just two points, but could never get any closer — both times Daequan Cook hit big three-pointers to hold the Cats at bay.

Felton hit a three with 43 seconds left to cut the lead to four and give the Bobcats one last chance.  They actually forced a Dwyane Wade miss on the other end, but any hopes of a thrilling comeback were dashed when Wade grabbed the rebound.

4.  Wade was supposedly playing with a touch of the flu, and did only play 31 minutes; despite that, he led the way for the Heat, netting 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.  The Heat also got great contributions from their two young guards: 16 points (4-7 3PT) from Daequan Cook and 16 points/13 assists from Mario Chalmers.  Wade, Cook and Chalmers shot a combined 22-39 (56%) from the field, which shouldn’t be unexpected with Raja Bell out.  DJ and Raymond are undersized when they have to play together, which allows opposing guards lots of good looks at the basket.

5.  DJ led the Cats in scoring with 27 on 10-19 FG and 6-11 3PT, but only had 6 assists and a rough -12 +/-.  Felton, on the other hand, had a miserable shooting night (4-17 FG 1-6 3PT) but did contribute 11 assists.  Howard played well enough in a spot start, getting 14 points on 6-11 FG in 30 minutes; problem is, he only managed 3 rebounds and ended with a -10 +/-.

With the Cats so shorthanded, Alexis Ajinca got a little five minute run spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth.  He nailed a 20 footer, then got fouled taking another and hit both free throws for a personal 4-0 run.  He also grabbed 3 rebounds in those limited minutes — nice that he ventured into the paint, being 7’1″ and all.

6.  Apparently, Vladimir Radmanovich was in Miami with the team and going through his physical in the hours before the game.  The team had hoped to be able to activate him for the game (pretty desperate, huh?) but was stopped by the league because L.A.’s early Sunday gametime had prevented them from getting physicals done for Morrison and Brown.

7.  In the big picture, I’m perfectly OK with taking this loss.  Though we’re still just a few games out of the 8th playoff spot, what exactly would getting to the playoffs do for us?  We’d get a couple of home playoff games in which we’d get absolutely obliterated by Lebron and the Cavs, and worst of all, we’d lose our draft pick (it would go to the Nuggets to finish the deal for the pick we used on Ajinca).

8.  And looking ahead to the trade deadline, I’m still expecting Raymond Felton to be dealt.  Rick Bonnell has recently floated the idea that the Bobcats might actually be willing to to trade DJ Augustin, thinking that the bad economy will keep the market for Raymond Felton low enough for the Cats to keep him this offseason.  That would be foolish, though.  Augustin is already a better shooter than Felton, will be just as good of a point guard once given the opportunity to singularly run the team, and is on his rookie contract for a few more years.

I’m wondering if the Bobcats had Bonnell float that idea in order to drive up the market for Felton a bit.  We know that Dallas and Portland may be interested, but if Jameer Nelson is going to have surgery on his shoulder (that decision will be made soon) then Orlando would seem to be the perfect destination for Felton.  It would be great for them — they’d get Felton for their playoff run.  If they liked what they saw, maybe they’d consider resigning him as Nelson’s backup; if not, they could let him go.

But do the Magic have anything the Bobcats would want in a deal?  If the Magic were desperate enough, I’d ask for Courtney Lee (with Brian Cook thrown in to make the salaries match).  I’m sure the Magic have no intentions of giving Lee up; but if Nelson chooses to have surgery, they couldn’t go into the playoffs with Tyronn Lue and Anthony Johnson running point and would thus have to consider it.

9.  Next game is Monday night, back at the Cable Box hosting the LA Clippers at 7 PM ET.  We’ll get our first look at the Rad Man in a Bobcats uni and a good chance at a win.