Queen City Hoops

Unlikely heroes; Bobcats second unit keep possible 6th seed alive

Charlotte Bobcats 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 Atlanta Hawks
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +6

Like most of the starters tonight, he was pretty insignificant. Clifford subbed him in before the last play of the game to inbound to CDR for the game winner.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-7 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -2

There are some real bright spots here: points and rebounds. 2-7 from the foul line is horrid, though, and it still really frustrates me that he cannot finish through any contact – MKG would be twice the offensive player if he could only learn to finish stronger around the rim.

As usual, great hustle every second on the floor.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 11-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | -3

Ho-hum kind of performance from Jefferson. Atlanta did all they could with him and became somewhat effective in forcing him to catch away from the basket and doubling in the second half, but ultimately it didn’t matter. Jefferson hit the go-ahead shot to make it 93-91 late in the 4th and the Bobcats never trailed again.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 1-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -5

This was one of Kemba’s worst games of the season. Maybe the worst. He didn’t play at all in the final quarter.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 24 MIN | 1-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -10

I don’t know how to justify giving him any better of a grade than Kemba. Outside of the almost monster put-back Hendo almost had, it was all ugly. So yes, the best memory I have of his game tonight is actually a shot that he almost made. Anything else? Okay.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5

Tolliver got the Bobcats going early in the 4th with a three-pointer. The team chipped away on the Hawks lead from there and Tolliver came up with some big time rebounds to help fuel the comeback.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 12 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Hit two mid-range jumpers which was nice to see, but nothing else to write home about for Zeller in this game.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5

Played his usual role as an imposing rim-protector while on the floor + came down with two big offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter that eventually led to a Ridnour bucket.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +7

Sweet stroke Luke. He took on a large portion of the scoring role in the Bobcats 4th quarter comeback – scored all 10 of his points in the final quarter on 5-7 shooting.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 5-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +8

10 of Neal’s 17 points came in the final quarter as he teamed up with Ridnour to continuously snipe Atlanta and keep Charlotte alive in their hunt for the 6th seed in the east. I was very impressed with his defensive effort in the final period, along with the entire second unit, when the team had to have it.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +8

CDR had nothing on the stat sheet other than 2 fouls going into the 4th, then he impacted just about every aspect of the game in the final period.

CDR hit a right-handed floater as time expired to put the Bobcats over the top in their incredible comeback. The play was a double downscreen decoy that eventually brought Jefferson to the right block to set a pindown screen for CDR – he caught it, gave a few power dribbles and tossed up the eventual winner.

Steve Clifford

Will be interesting to see the approach that Clifford takes with his starters tomorrow in practice after their uninspired effort on the defensive end tonight.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Charlotte has guaranteed an above .500 record on the season with their 42nd win and will play their final regular season game Wednesday night at home against Chicago.
  2. Scenario for the 6th seed: Bobcats must beat Chicago and Washington must lose in Boston. Any other outcome keeps Charlotte in the 7th seed and in a first round series with the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

Game #81: Bobcats @ Hawks — Stay away from the Heat. New PodCats!

Who: Atlanta Hawks vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Hawks Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Atlanta 37-43 103.3 (15) 104.0 (15) 96.9 (13)
Charlotte 41-39 101.3 (23) 101.3 (6) 94.9 (21)

Injuries:

Atlanta: Paul Millsap (OUT-rest), Kyle Korver (OUT-rest), DeMarre Carroll (OUT-rest), Al Horford (OUT)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Hawks Bobcats
PG Jeff Teague Kemba Walker
SG Louis Williams Gerald Henderson
SF Cartier Martin Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Mike Scott Josh McRoberts
C Pero Antic Al Jefferson
6th Man Shelvin Mack Gary Neal

—–

First of all, if you haven’t heard the PodCats Show from Friday, you have to go ahead and catch up here. Doug Branson, Greg Pietras and myself debate Charleston, SC, why I cannot pronounce too many NBA names correctly and, of course, everything Bobcats.

We’ll be LIVE again tomorrow at 6:30 — LISTEN HERE.

—–

  • Let’s start with the fact that Atlanta has won 11 straight games over the Bobcats. So, there’s that to chew on. Although, Atlanta has elected to rest three starters tonight since they’re locked into the 8th seed – Millsap, Korver & Carroll.
  • All Bobcats fans will be paying close attention to two games in the association tonight. Of course, our game, but the Wizards will host Miami. A Bobcats win + Wizards loss means Charlotte will move back into the six seed with just one game remaining. Currently, Washington does control their own destiny for the sixth seed if they win out (vs. Miami, @ Boston).
  • Unfortunately for Charlotte, Atlanta has been playing solid basketball as of late — it’s started on the defensive end. In the past five games (4-1) Atlanta is sporting a defensive rating 96.1 (-7.9 from season avg.), which would be on par with the best NBA defensive team, but this is a very small sample and obviously not sustainable. Nonetheless, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, playoff teams begin to defend much harder this time of the year.
  • Atlanta sophomore, and ex-UVA standout, Mike Scott has been a secret weapon for the Hawks this season. In the past ten games Scott is only getting around 16 minutes per night, but he’s been extremely effective with those minutes — 8.6 PPG + 53.5% FG. Scott can stretch it all the way out to the three-point line, although he’s not great from there – he’s an excellent mid-range shooter. He’ll certainly be a factor tonight and will start in the place of Paul Millsap.
  • Hawks center Pero Antic will play tonight. In the last meeting between these two teams back on March 17th Brand & Antic held Jefferson to just 16 points on 6-15 shooting.
  • Atlanta’s horse Paul Millsap will sit tonight for Atlanta. Good thing, because Millsap has carried the Hawks all year long and hasn’t shown too many signs of slowing down recently — 18.6 PPG + 11 RPG in the past five.
  • Kemba did go through shoot-around with the team this morning in Atlanta and is expected to start tonight.
  • With Atlanta sitting three starters tonight, they’re lending as much of a hand as possible for the Bobcats to track the Wizards down in search of the sixth seed.
  • Prediction: Bobcats 102-92.

Boston Celtics 106, Charlotte Bobcats 103: No Kemba and No Defense in Bobcats Loss

Charlotte Bobcats 103 FinalRecap | Box Score 106 Boston Celtics
Josh McRoberts, PF 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +13

With Kemba Walker out, Charlotte really needed McRoberts’ passing and shooting tonight. He responded well, going 3-of-4 from three and dishing a team-high 10 assists.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -1

A pretty decent game for MKG, too — he created some points on the fast break and on second attempts, played solid defense (with two very nice blocks), rebounded and passed. What you’d ideally like to see from him.

Al Jefferson, C 39 MIN | 16-26 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 32 PTS | -4

No knocks on another very good offensive night, but Jefferson’s slow foot speed means he struggles against centers with range. That included Jared Sullinger tonight, who stepped out and hit some wide-open threes.

Luke Ridnour, PG 31 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +11

The offense was solid, the defense less so. Ridnour really struggled to run around screens, giving the Celtics several open looks at the top of the arc. They took advantage, shooting 11-of-23 on the night.

Gerald Henderson, SG 25 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +2

Efficient but quiet night from Hendo. It’s nice to see him knocking down the threes, at least.

Cody Zeller, C 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -16

A pretty poor game after a relatively hot stretch for Zeller. Like most of the Bobcats tonight, he looked noticeably lost on defense.

Bismack Biyombo, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

Hey, some rebounds and blocks. Not much else in Biz’s 9 minutes.

Jannero Pargo, PG 17 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -14

Pargo’s overcaffeinated style works for him on some nights, but it’s mostly dependent on how well his shot is falling. 2-for-10 from the field, 0-for-4 from three won’t work.

Gary Neal, SG 23 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -5

They probably could have just started Neal at point guard, since he did a ton of ball handling in his 23 minutes. The Celtics struggled to keep up with his speed, and Neal got a handful of easy looks in the paint as a result.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -2

CDR was the only Bobcat that could buy a foul, as he shot more free throws than the rest of the team combined. He picked a bad night to struggle from three, as he couldn’t convert any of his four attempts from long range.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Everyone gets docked in the grades tonight because of some truly awful team defense.
  2. Charlotte obviously missed Kemba a lot, both because he’s their second-best player and the team’s real lack of depth at point guard. Let’s hope it’s a speedy recovery.
  3. With Washington’s win in Orlando tonight, the Bobcats have been knocked back into the seventh seed. It’s possible they’ll need to win their three final games to make up the ground they lost in the standings.

Game #79: Bobcats @ Celtics — Momentum over everything. New PodCats!

Who: Boston Celtics vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Celtics Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at TD Garden, Boston, MA

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Boston 23-55 99.4 (29) 105.0 (20) 95.7 (17)
Charlotte 40-38 101.1 (23) 101.2 (6) 94.8 (21)

Injuries:
Boston: Kris Humphries (Questionable)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Celtics Bobcats
PG Rajon Rondo Kemba Walker
SG Avery Bradley Gerald Henderson
SF Jeff Green  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Brandon Bass Josh McRoberts
C Jared Sullinger Al Jefferson
6th Man Jerryd Bayless Gary Neal

—–

It’s officially a debate — are the Bobcats better off playing Indiana in the first round as a seven seed (assuming the Pacers end up second) rather than seeing Toronto/Chicago? Doug Branson and myself debated on PodCats Wednesday + we previewed Bobcats-Wizards, where I think it’s safe to say we were quite accurate.

Programming note: We’ll be LIVE tonight at 6:30 PM ET. Listen here.

  • Charlotte goes for their sixth straight win tonight in Boston and will look to keep the momentum going with just four games remaining in the regular season. Technically, the Bobcats are still alive for the fifth seed, but they’d obviously need a lot of help as Brooklyn currently sits three games ahead in the standings. Washington, who has an identical record with Charlotte but have lost the tie-breaker, will play in Orlando. Very winnable games for both the Bobcats and Wizards tonight as they jockey for the sixth seed.
  • Boston has lost 14 of their past 15 games. It’s clear that the Celtics are folding the tent (AKA: tanking) and the effort, or lack thereof, has started on the defensive end. In the past 15 games Boston has a defensive rating of 111.7 (+6.7 from season avg.). Not good. At all. It’s been clear for quite awhile that Rajon Rondo is unhappy with the direction of the franchise and I’m not sure that I’d call the Rondo-Brad Stevens mixture oil & water, but you get the picture. The effort simply isn’t there from this squad right now and the reasons why are obvious from the front office to the actual play on the court.
  • Tonight is the rubber-match in the three-game season series between these two. Both have won on each other’s floors. The Celtics have actually been somewhat effective in guarding Al Jefferson. Relatively speaking. Jefferson is avg. 18 PPG + 7 RPG on 45% shooting in two games against Boston. Jared Sullinger certainly has his hands full with Big Al, but the horse that is Brandon Bass gives a lending hand and the length of Jeff Green really helps get Jefferson off of the glass.
  • Kemba vs. Rondo will be an interesting matchup to keep an eye on. Obviously, Rondo has a height advantage on Kemba. Don’t be surprised to see Stevens draw up some action to get Rondo ISO’d around the basket against Kemba.
  • Charlotte must make it a point to get the ball to the rim against what has been a pathetic Boston defense recently. The Bobcats have become rather lazy in this category recently – only 35.6 PITP in the past 5 games – that’s 4.5 PITP/game less than their season avg. The team has been 37.3% from behind-the-arc in the past 5, which is +1.9% from season avg., but that’s likely an outlier and isn’t sustainable. Get the ball to the rim in order to setup the defense for open three-point shots – one of the oldest concepts in the book.
  • The Bobcats are a very driven bunch right now and it’s very hard to talk myself into them losing a winnable game at this point.
  • Prediction: Bobcats 100-90.

Bobcats take over 6th in the east + tie-breaker from Wizards

Charlotte Bobcats 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 Washington Wizards
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | 0

McBob was huge in the first half with all 12 of his points. The second half wasn’t nearly as desirable as he went 0-5 from the field, but I’ll take this as a first game back from injury.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -10

He impacted the game in the way that we’ve all expected MKG too. Two big offensive rebounds + two steals. Solid on defense as usual.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 43 MIN | 9-20 FG | 2-2 FT | 18 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +5

Big Al struggled on Gortat defensively, which will ultimately hurt his grade, but he gobbled up rebounds and picked his spots well offensively when the double teams came. And they came often.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 44 MIN | 6-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +9

Kemba is going to miss shots through the course of a game. A lot of them, typically. That being said, how much has this guy improved defensively in terms of defending gaps and gambling less into shooting passing lanes?

Speaking of defense, it’s what keeps the Bobcats in games late. Oh, and speaking of late in games – Kemba takeover time. It’s simply when this guy truly comes to life as a basketball player. He lives for hitting the big shot late in games. Talk about his inefficiency offensively all you want, but how many times has he come to the rescue for Charlotte this season when the game hangs in the balance? A lot.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +2

Hendo’s three trey balls tonight are really what gave the Bobcats legs when they appeared to be stumbling. Especially the one he hit late in the 4th quarter to tie the contest at 80.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +6

Limited minutes with McBob back. No complaints here. Continues to become one of the best rebounders of all rookies, per minutes played.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +13

You can live with Neal on the offensively and die with him defensively. I have zero doubts that Clifford bites his lip every single defensive possession with GN in the game.

Neal continues to be versatile offensively with his ability to put the ball on the floor when defenders run at him hard, knowing how capable of a shooter he is.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +7

I completely understand what Clifford means when he references what CDR does on the floor just makes sense.

Steve Clifford

Hats off. This team seems to just get better defensively as the season wears on. Can’t say enough about how connected they are defensively, how sharp the rotations are and how quickly they jump to protect gaps on dribble-penetration.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Charlotte built a 20-point first half lead and ultimately that’s what made the difference when you consider these facts: Bobcats scored 28 PITP to Washington’s 50. Bobcats shot 38% to Wiz 45%.
  2. Coming into tonight Washington was the second best in the NBA at 3P% at 38.6%. Tonight they were 1-15 (6.7%).
  3. The preview stated that “six means something”. Everyone see how hard Charlotte played tonight, especially defensively, and agree with that now? This team doesn’t care who they play in the post-season. They’re focused, have quality leadership, play to win + having a ton of fun. I don’t care who this team matches up with in the playoffs – they’re going to give that squad a serious run for their money.
  4. The Bobcats have clinched the tie-breaker with Washington – both teams are 40-38. If the season ended today Charlotte would be the 6th seed in the playoffs and matchup with Toronto.

Game #78: Bobcats @ Wizards — Six means something

Who: Washington Wizards vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Wizards Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Verizon Center, Washington D.C.

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Washington 40-37 103.0 (17) 102.7 (12) 95.5 (18)
Charlotte 39-38 101.2 (22) 101.4 (6) 94.8 (21)

Injuries:

Washington: Nene Hilario (Questionable), Trevor Ariza (Probable)
Charlotte: Josh McRoberts (Probable), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Wizards Bobcats
PG John Wall Kemba Walker
SG Bradley Beal Gerald Henderson
SF Trevor Ariza Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Trevor Booker Cody Zeller
C Marcin Gortat Al Jefferson
6th Man Martell Webster Gary Neal

——

  • For starters, if you haven’t checked out any of these links centered around the Bobcats, they’re a must-see: Al Jefferson talks to Marc Stein on ESPN’s TrueHoop TV about everything centered around this season and how Charlotte has helped his career blossom. Over at Hardwood Paroxysm Scott Rafferty portrays the Bobcats as the renewed product that they are and what lies ahead for the franchise.
  • As for tonight, I don’t need to go into a ton of detail of why this is a huge game for both teams. A Charlotte win tonight seals the season series with the Wiz 3-1 and gives the Bobcats the tie-break with Washington with only four games to play.
  • Charlotte goes for their fifth straight win tonight while Washington seems to be simply trying to keep their head above water – they lost by 18 at home to Chicago on Saturday night and only scored 26 total points in the first half of that blowout loss.
  • Gerald Henderson was quoted saying that tonight’s game will be treated “like a playoff game” by the Bobcats.
  • You have to wonder just how much the locker room is focusing on the collapse that’s going on with the Pacers right now – wouldn’t anyone in Charlotte and Washington’s shoes rather play the Pacers currently? Maybe. Kemba Walker was on ESPN radio yesterday, and when asked how much he’s paying attention to Indiana lately — “not at all”.
  • Charlotte has created a locker room identity of confidence and a full focus on winning. That’s not going to change down the stretch regarding what’s going on elsewhere in the standings. If the Bobcats somehow run the table leading into the playoffs, let’s be honest here, does anybody want a part of these guys?
  • The Wizards like to live from behind-the-arc and they can be very effective from there – Washington actually only averages 20.8 3PA/game on the season (about middle of the pack), but they convert on 38.5% of 3-pointers and that’s good for second in the entire NBA. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster have all been deadly from deep this season.
  • Washington may also get Nene Hilario back from injury tonight and that drastically changes the dynamic of how they space the floor. Nene is multi-tooled post scorer, and with likely four shooters spaced around him at all times – well, you do the math on how dangerous the Wiz could be offensively.
  • The Bobcats definitely want to win this game tonight, but I have to believe the Wizards are treating it as a must-win after the embarrassment Saturday night against Chicago. It would seem fitting that these two teams split the season series, so I’m going with Washington in a very competitive 98-95 game.

Charlotte Bobcats 96, Cleveland Cavaliers 94: Winning Ugly

Charlotte Bobcats 96 FinalRecap | Box Score 94 Cleveland Cavaliers
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 22 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -1

MKG had a better game than his statline shows: He didn’t score much, but he was very active, pushed the tempo and rebounded as well as usual. He also helped hold Luol Deng to a rough five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Al Jefferson, C 41 MIN | 9-21 FG | 6-8 FT | 15 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | -3

Another fine night from Al Jefferson, but it’s a little concerning to see him play so many minutes. It’s understandable, since the dropoff from Jefferson to Biyombo is so large, but it’d be interesting to see Zeller play some minutes at backup center when Josh McRoberts returns to the lineup.

Cody Zeller, C 37 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-8 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -2

Cody had a very solid night, hitting most of his shots from mid-range and rebounding well. He’s a smart passer, especially recently, but the ball movement and spacing still aren’t the same with McRoberts on the bench. Zeller’s shown a lot of promise since the All-Star break, but Josh is probably a better fit with the starting lineup for now.

Kemba Walker, PG 42 MIN | 7-23 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +8

It took a ton of shots to get there, but Kemba ground out 20 points when there wasn’t much working for the offense. He got torched on defense, though, with Kyrie Irving scoring 44 points. His crunch-time play was a little disappointing, too, as he went 2-of-9 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Gerald Henderson, SG 33 MIN | 5-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +4

Henderson had a few big dunks, and was one of three players to score in OT for Charlotte.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +2

Not quite the shooting display we’ve seen recently, but the rebounds are nice and he was generally effective in his time on the court.

Bismack Biyombo, C 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

Zero points, but the defense was solid and he had a ton of rebounds per minute. He kept several offensive possessions alive with his four offensive boards.

Luke Ridnour, PG 12 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -4

Ridnour was part of some shaky defensive units, but the long-range shooting was nice to see, as were the assists. More like this would be nice.

Gary Neal, SG 19 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Neal settled for some poor shots in this one, and he can’t point to his defense like Biz can.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 31 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | 0

The shooting wasn’t great, but his effort was nice and he looked better in transition.

One Thing We Saw

  1. The Bobcats face the Wizards next on Wednesday — if they can pull out a win, they’ll swap into the sixth seed. The time off should do them good.

Game #77: Bobcats @ Cavs — so you’re saying there’s a chance?

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Cavaliers Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Cleveland 31-46 100.8 (24) 105.1 (20) 95.5 (19)
Charlotte 38-38 101.3 (22) 101.5 (6) 94.8 (21)

Injuries:

Cleveland:
Charlotte: Josh McRoberts (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor

Starting Lineups

Cavaliers Bobcats
PG Kyrie Irving Kemba Walker
SG Dion Waiters Gerald Henderson
SF Luol Deng Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Tristan Thompson Cody Zeller
C Spencer Hawes Al Jefferson
6th Man Anderson Varejao Gary Neal

——

  • As the Bobcats chase the Wizards for the sixth seed in the eastern conference, the Cavs attempt to keep their questionable pulse for the playoffs alive. Cleveland sits three games back of Atlanta, who they lost to last night, for the final playoff spot in the east. If last night did not send a spear through the Cavs playoff hearts, a loss tonight certainly would finish the deal.
  • Cleveland is basically fully healthy for the first time all season – they finally have Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Luol Deng all healthy at the same time. It’s likely too little, too late, though.
  • The Bobcats seem to be surging at just the right time. Last night was a clinic in how Charlotte is going to be successful in the post-season – dominant defensively, holding Orlando to just 35.5% shooting and winning the battle on the glass.
  • Tonight will be a tougher matchup defensively due to the fact that you must account for three players who can all go get 20+ points (Irving, Waiters, Deng). Cleveland can also stretch the floor now with Spencer Hawes in their lineup. I would presume that Al Jefferson will guard Tristan Thompson tonight while Zeller inherits the duties of chasing Hawes out to the three-point line.
  • Tonight certainly won’t be an easy win for the Bobcats, but they absolutely have to have it if they want to keep pace with Washington and setup what could potentially be a ‘play yourself into the sixth seed’ game next Wednesday in the nation’s capital.
  • Washington hosts Chicago tonight at 7pm – I’d say that’s a toss-up game. Go Bulls.
  • Look for Charlotte to keep this at more of a low possession game while the Cavs attempt to force the issue with tempo, not allowing Charlotte to setup their half-court defense.
  • Hard to imagine either Hawes or Thompson being very effective at limiting Jefferson tonight and I tend to believe that matchup problem for Cleveland is what ultimately leads to another Bobcats victory.
  • Prediction: 102-94 Bobcats.

Charlotte Bobcats 91, Orlando Magic 80: .500, Finally

Orlando Magic 80 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 17 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5

MKG gets dinged for a shaky offensive start to the game, but a hard fall and a trip to the locker room in the first quarter limited his time on the night. An 0fer is never a good thing, but under the circumstances it’s understandable.

Al Jefferson, C 37 MIN | 13-24 FG | 3-3 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +7

Jefferson went nuclear in the first half, scoring 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds. He obviously cooled off in the second half, but the team’s 53-36 lead at the break was just enough to coast for the rest of the night. Jefferson made several of the Magic’s unseasoned big men look silly in the low post.

Cody Zeller, C 25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +11

A solid night from Zeller that showcased his strengths and weaknesses: He did a good job of using his speed to get easy buckets and draw fouls, but struggled to finish inside against Orlando’s athletic defenders. That was a problem for him in college, too, so it could be a long-term issue — but if his mid-range game develops, it’ll help open up driving lanes and make things easier for him.

Kemba Walker, PG 35 MIN | 5-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | +20

Kemba’s impact on a game sometimes seems completely disconnected from how well he’s shooting. He’s now at the point where his passing and quickness on defense can more than make up for his mostly inefficient offense. Getting those 10 rebounds for his second career triple-double is the cherry on top of a productive night.

Gerald Henderson, SG 23 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +15

Foul trouble kept Henderson off the court, and Clifford is favoring Neal for long stretches as well. Gerald’s defense, rebounding and chemistry with the starting lineup still have value, though, and he’s been shooting an efficient 49 percent since the All-Star break. He didn’t have it tonight, but some of the lineup adjustments seem to be helping Henderson in general.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | 0

Tolliver’s shot has been missing lately, but he’s been playing well at backup power forward while Josh McRoberts misses time. He’s 8-of-12 on three-pointers in the last two games, and the team’s needed it with a starting lineup completely absent of shooters.

Bismack Biyombo, C 11 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +4

Like everybody else, Biyombo’s been on a mini-tear since the All-Star break. He still shows the same offensive limitations he always has, but he’s been making smart plays and generally keeping the second unit’s defense together. He’s not playing much, averaging just 11 minutes a night over that stretch, but it’s encouraging to see things going well for him in limited time.

Luke Ridnour, PG 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9

When Kemba tweaked his ankle and left for the locker room, the possibility of dropping this game felt very real. Ridnour’s been just good enough at backup, but I don’t think anyone wants to see him (or Jannero Pargo) playing starter’s minutes.

Gary Neal, SG 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -4

I’ve been impressed with Neal’s versatility so far — when his jumper wasn’t falling, he mixed in more drives and shots in the paint to try and jumpstart his offense. It paid off, as he drew a few fouls and scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half. The trade continues to look good for Charlotte, despite strong play from Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien in Milwaukee.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 31 MIN | 1-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +6

CDR’s struggled a bit with his consistency lately, but the rebounds and assists help make up for a quiet night offensively.

One Thing We Saw

  1. The Bobcats are .500 for the first time since Nov. 23, and it’s looking likely they’ll end their season with more wins than losses. It’s been a fun season, and the team deserves it after a few years out in the wilderness.

Game #76: Bobcats vs. Magic — Seeking .500 & Revenge

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Orlando Magic

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Charlotte 37-38 101.4 (22) 101.8 (6) 94.8 (21)
Orlando 21-54 99.4 (27) 104.7 (18) 96.1 (15)

Injuries:
Charlotte: Josh McRoberts (Doubtful), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Orlando:

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Magic
PG Kemba Walker Jameer Nelson
SG Gerald Henderson Arron Afflalo
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Maurice Harkless
PF Cody Zeller Kyle O’Quinn
C Al Jefferson Nikola Vucevic
6th Man Gary Neal Tobias Harris

——-

Charlotte is a week removed from the disappointing loss to the Magic in Orlando. In a game where the Bobcats led by as many as 16 in the first quarter, they were out-rebounded 56-37 + gave up 20 second-chance points. Can this be explained by a simple mental-lapse that night?

Tonight is yet another opportunity for the Bobcats to get to .500, so will it finally happen?

Spencer: Part of last Friday, yes, can be explained by a team that simply didn’t have the focus for four quarters as a playoff bound team should this time of year. Aside from that, Orlando does pose some matchup issues for the Bobcats – Vucevic is a load on the low block and has proven to be solid defender against Jefferson. Tobias Harris is also a tough matchup off the bench due to his versatility – he can really shoot it from outside and is a problem around the rim because of his size.

There is no doubt in my mind that Charlotte will prevail tonight and finally get to .500 on the season. I get the sense that the Bobcats psyche is shaping up the right way for the playoffs. A loss like they had last Friday at Orlando was exactly I think what the team needed – as Clifford referenced earlier this week, the team was feeling a sense of accomplishment that shouldn’t be there. I have to believe that the maturity in the locker room has taken over and this is a group that is focused. Bobcats win easily tonight.

Greg: I’m sure the mental side played into it, but Charlotte had won a tough overtime game against the Nets two nights before, and Orlando was in the middle of a homestand with three days of rest. This late in the season, that can make a difference. The Bobcats should have won, but it happens. Every team drops games they shouldn’t.

The rebounding should be a bit better tonight, at least – with Josh McRoberts doubtful for the game, Cody Zeller will provide a stronger effort on the boards at power forward. Just being at home will help, too, as the Bobcats have been significantly better in Charlotte this year. It should be a relatively close game, since Orlando seems to match up with the Bobcats well, but Orlando struggles to score on most nights. If Charlotte can run out to an early lead, they should be able to hit .500.