Boxscore of Bobcats vs Magic – 11/16/2009
Score: 97-91 Orlando
Bobcats Record: 3-7
Offensive Efficiency: 100.0
Defensive Efficiency: 105.4
Meritorious Player: Ronald Murray – 31 points on 13 of 21 shooting – and not much else, 2 steals, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers. The points were enough (to earn this distinction).
But the points from Flip were not enough to get the win. The Bobcats were in the game until the closing minutes but could not get it done thanks to poor shooting from the free throw line – 15 of 26 for the game and just 8 of 14 in the fourth quarter – and sloppiness with the basketball – 5 turnovers in the fourth, 17 overall. Were it not for Flip and his shot happy ways, this one could have gotten ugly – but fortunately for the Bobcats, the man they brought in for instant offense provided exactly that…well, the man they brought in first, which brings us to the newest addition.
Stephen Jackson shot poorly, turned the ball over too much, and had a somewhat disappointing line in his first game as a Bobcat: Just 13 points in 45 minutes, on 4 of 14 shooting and 4 of 8 on free throws, for Jackson, to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. But despite that, I was impressed. A couple of those turnovers were from Jackson not knowing that Tyson Chandler just is not ready to catch the ball (or even looking for it, on occasion) on the pick and roll as he moves to the rim, but those were good mistakes – Stephen was looking to create easy opportunities for his teammates and as they and he get acquainted, they will turn out better. On top of that, Jackson did a very solid job on the perimeter, holding Vince Carter to a quiet 15 points on 12 attempts – and, yes, VC hit the de-facto game deciding 3 over Jackson, but Jackson was right there and made him take a ridiculously tough shot that Carter happened to bury from deep. So, after one game, I have to admit that Jackson looked a solid add for the Cats (my primary concern continues to be the cap ramifications going forward but the future can be dealt with when it gets here).
Other Bobcats were in action aside from the 2 (relatively) new guys…like another relatively new guy in Tyson Chandler, albeit Tyson was a spectator for much of the game like me. 5 fouls in just 24 minutes (and 2 quick ones just over 6 minutes into the game) slowed Chandler again, as has been the theme here in the early season. He finished with 2 points, 4 rebounds, and a turnover in his limited minutes and Chandler again looked a step slow and in a bit of a funk. He continues to reach and commit cheap fouls and his screens continue to be things that just beg for whistles (seriously, Tyson – just stand still on the screen, stop leaning, poking out a knee, using your forearms – just stop). Tonight, the Bobcats were able to play small, as Dwight Howard also managed to incur foul trouble (5 fouls in his 34 minutes, curtailing his aggressiveness to a degree), going with Boris Diaw on Superman for stretches – and getting away with it for the most part. The one area it bit the Bobcats was on the offensive glass – Orlando grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to the Bobcats 4.
An area going in that I expected to be a key for the Bobcats was threes – last week the Magic made 7 more than the Cats – and Orlando duplicated that tonight, 11 to the Bobcats 4 (though neither team shot particularly well from deep, as the Magic were at 34.4% on triples and Charlotte at 28.6%). Flip and Jax were the only Bobcats to attempt more than one and they went 3 of 10 from deep (1 of 4 for everyone else). Last season, Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin both shot better than 40% on threes – this year they are both around 25%. If last year was the fluke, the Bobcats are going to struggle to get much better offensively, but if their early season struggles are the real fluke, that is a good sign as the rest of the offense gels around the newest new addition. Being able to stretch the floor is of paramount importance for this team, with no consistent post threat (though Boris made some nifty moves tonight) and no star to clear out for, the Bobcats need for defenders to be punished for sagging off their men to help on drives and right now they are not.
Final notes: The Bobcats finished with 4 players in double figures, with Flip at 31, Boris at 21, Jax at 13, and Gerald Wallace chipping in 11 on 2 of 5 from the field and 6 of 8 from the line. Gerald continues to be off to a bit of a slow start to the season, but he still rebounded strongly as he matched Jackson for the team lead with 9 rebounds in his 46 minutes. Raymond Felton was also limited by foul trouble like Tyson, playing just 26 minutes and contributing 6 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 2 turtle doves and 1 steal in his time. Again for Raymond and the team – too many turnovers, with Raymond having those 3 in just 14 possessions used and the team at the aforementioned 17 in a game with only 91 possessions – it has to improve. Final final note: Just 8 players played tonight, with Flip, Nazr, and D.J. being the only guys to get their number called off the bench. The Bobcats are going to have to figure out a way to spell Boris at the 4, and with Vlad moved on to the Warriors, one less (admittedly, not great) option is available. It will be interesting to see if the Bobcats give Gerald and Jackson more minutes guarding 4s when they can get away with it like they did tonight (thanks Rashard Lewis for being a 2 in a 4s body).