For everyone who has not gotten tired of playing the “What if” game, tonight was another good opportunity, as two members of everyone's most analyzed and rehashed draft (yes, it is an exaggeration) met again – Chris Paul and Raymond Felton. No doubt both players feel some pressure to produce in these games, but the onus is particularly on Felton to prove that he still belongs in conversation about the great point guards to come from the draft of 2005. And tonight, Felton did not disappoint – in the box score anyway, with 24 points on a very efficienct 9 of 13 shooting, and 5 assists against 2 turnovers. But, he was trumped by Paul…again, who had 14 points, 13 assists, and 6 rebounds (with 4 turns). On the court, the Bobcats lost again, 111-100, to end the preseason at 2 wins, 6 losses. Anything to be gained from this depressing end to the practice schedule? Actually, yes.
1. Our starting 5 handled theirs. In 10 minutes and 57 seconds of action where the two starting lineups were in competition, the Bobcats's five won by 11. The Bobcats had an offensive efficiency of an astounding 1.74 points per possession, and surrendered 1.05 ppp. The defense is slightly better than the team average last season, but nothing to write home over. The offense was spectacular though, and came about as a result of hot shooting (63%) and grabbing 3 of 7 possible offensive rebounds. Note: Tyson Chandler and David West did not play for the Hornets, with Melvin Ely and Hilton Armstrong taking their spots in the starting 5. So for the record, the 2 fives were: Primoz, Oak, Crash, J-Rich, and Ray versus Chris Paul, Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic, Melvin Ely, and Hilton Armstrong.
2. When Chris Paul and Raymond Felton were both on the court, the Hornets fared very well. The 2 point guards faced each other, with various lineups, for 27 minutes and 5 seconds – and the Hornets hammered the Bobcats over this time 73-55. The Charlotte Bobcats' efficiency numbers were 1.10 ppp on offense and 1.41 ppp on defense. I would like to say that it was because Raymond was playing with more bench players than CP3, but that would not be true. Felton had at least 2 of the big 3 on the court with him at all times – aside from one lineup that he played only 47 seconds with, which consisted of Jared Dudley, Jeff McInnis, Jermareo Davidson, Raymond Felton, and Ryan Hollins and was outscored 4 to 0.
3. If the starting 4 were on the court, the Bobcats did alright. The starting 4? Yes, the four players that there is no question over starting, Raymond, Jason, Gerald, and Emeka. When those 4 were on the court together, against the low-blow likes of Chris Paul, the Bobcats were at 57-53 over 22 minutes and 17 seconds of court time. These goes to show how important these main players are, because it got ugly fast without them all on the floor.
4. Jared Dudley had a nice debut. Jared got his first (and last) action of the preseason…and did quite well, for himself and the team. Jared had a line of 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist in 17 minutes and 7 seconds on the court. The team also managed to win with him out there, 34-32, with an offensive efficiency of 1.10 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 1.03. Welcome to the Queen City, Jared.