Queen City Hoops

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.

Game #75: Bobcats @ Sixers Preview + Fresh PodCats Show

Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – 76ers Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Philadelphia 16-58 95.9 (30) 107.0 (27) 102.0 (1)
Charlotte 36-38 101.0 (23) 101.9 (8) 94.8 (21)

Injuries:
Philadelphia: Arnett Moultrie (OUT)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

76ers Bobcats
PG Michael Carter-Williams Kemba Walker
SG James Anderson Gerald Henderson
SF Hollis Thompson Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Thaddeus Young Josh McRoberts
C Henry Sims Al Jefferson
6th Man Tony Wroten Gary Neal

—-
In respects to the college basketball hype currently, tonight’s game has that feeling to it – somewhat. If the NBA postseason was seeded due to regular season resumes, this would be a no-win situation. A win does nothing to make you look better while a loss destroys everything.

Well, good thing this isn’t college basketball. That being said, it feels like a loss to the historically bad Sixers tonight would have a similar effect in the sense that it would theoretically destroy much of what the Bobcats have built this season – culture, confidence, respect.

How does Charlotte avoid laying an egg in Phila tonight and stay right on the heels of Washington for the #6 seed?

Spencer: If Charlotte comes out of the gate sharp defensively then they should be fine. The Sixers want to play at a furious pace, so when you can force them to execute in the half-court they make the game brutally difficult on themselves. Keep the Sixers away from easy baskets and they’ll chuck up prayers towards the rim all night long.

Al Jefferson should have no problem getting buckets tonight. In anyway that he wants. I think it’s safe to say that poor Henry Sims, who was a member of the Bobcats summer league team, is in for a long night.

Come out focused + committed defensively and I don’t see a scenario where Charlotte drops this one.

Greg: Just stick with what works — dump the ball down to Al Jefferson, let him work his defender, and go from there. The 76ers give up a lot of shots at a high FG% down in the restricted area, so Al should end up with a productive night. Pair that with some strong rebounding and low turnovers, and it should be an easy win. Charlotte will also need to resist the urge to push the ball, as Philadelphia plays at by far the highest pace in the league. Just don’t get sloppy.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain: Although losing to the struggling Sixers would be bad, as it has only happened 16 times total all season, I don’t agree that it would be disastrous to the Bobcats’ season. The Sixers, who are as close to full health as they are going to get all season, have actually played a little better ball over the past couple games.

That being said, the Bobcats can’t really afford to drop any games from here on out, especially if they want to catch Washington for that six seed. So, in order to get a win against the SIxers tonight, the Bobcats really just have to play their game as they have all season. The Sixers have no physical answer for Al Jefferson, as neither Thad Young or Henry Sims has the size or strength to bang with him. Feeding Jefferson early and often should help Charlotte establish their offense against one of the worst defensive teams in the league. The SIxers also can’t cover the 3, so some open attempts from long-range might be in order for Charlotte. If they can establish Jefferson early, and then play an inside-outside sort of game to get some open looks for their shooters, they should be able to score more than enough to defeat Philly.

Defensively, the ‘Cats need to put pressure on Michael Carter-Williams and make his job difficult. The Sixers’ offense is often initiated through him, so taking him out of it leaves the Sixers with few other offensive options. If the ‘Cats avoid a mental lapse and play to their potential they shouldn’t have a problem taking down the struggling Sixers.

——

Doug Branson and myself (Spencer Percy) discussed the amazing comeback win against Washington, the #QuestFor6Seed and CDR + Cody Zeller’s emergence.

LISTEN HERE — PodCats 4/1/14

Charlotte Bobcats 100, Washington Wizards 94: Hot and Cold

Washington Wizards 94 FinalRecap | Box Score 100 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF 27 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3

Josh wasn’t very involved on offense, and his defense was shaky, too — he was on the court for most of the second quarter, a bloodbath where Washington ran out to a 60-44 lead. Washington did a good job of taking away his drives in the paint and keeping his three-point shots to a minimum.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +2

A poor night on offense, even by Kidd-Gilchrist’s standards, as he got a little overeager near the basket and took a few wild shots. The defense was stiffer when he was on the court, though, and his rebounding helped.

Al Jefferson, C 40 MIN | 8-19 FG | 3-3 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | -2

It was a long night for Jefferson, as he and Kemba played all 24 minutes in the second half. They needed every one of them, too, as the team clawed its way back for the huge win. The team will need to be careful with Al’s PT — he’s played 40+ minutes in each of the last five games, and they need him fresh for the playoffs. Once seeding is locked in they should sit him as much as they can.

Kemba Walker, PG 38 MIN | 6-22 FG | 9-10 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +16

Kemba had a pretty terrible shooting night, going 6-of-22 from the floor and 0-of-10 from long range. That ends up a footnote, though, as a 21-10-5 game is usually a positive no matter how you get there. Helping hold John Wall to just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting also counts as a positive. Nine points and five of his assists came in the fourth quarter, which Charlotte won by a 30-14 margin.

Gerald Henderson, SG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -1

A quiet but solid night as Henderson and Neal more or less split time at shooting guard.

Cody Zeller, C 20 MIN | 4-4 FG | 7-8 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +9

This was Zeller’s best game as a Bobcat, and he picked an excellent time for it. Just one of his shots came from mid-range, and his aggressiveness near the basket led to those eight free throws and eight rebounds. It’s been great to see Zeller blossom as the season has gone on and the coaching staff have made adjustments. He’s looked like a different player since the All-Star break, scoring eight points on 52 percent shooting and grabbing five rebounds in 17 minutes a game.

Bismack Biyombo, C 8 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +8

Biyombo seems to thrive off chaos, and things got nuts in his eight minutes of play. Neither team seemed very interested in a half-court offense, and there was a lot of running and chucking from the bench units. He didn’t grab a rebound, but he did an excellent job of shutting down attempts near the rim. He threw down two monster dunks as well, which is what you’re hoping for from Biz.

Luke Ridnour, PG 10 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -10

Like Biyombo, Ridnour sat the bench for the entire second half. It was a pretty easy decision to make in Luke’s case, as the team fell apart during his 10 minutes.

Gary Neal, SG 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +7

A nice effort  from Neal, who paired his scoring with some nice rebounding and passing. The second unit looks completely different with him out there, and it’ll be nice to have him healthy for the stretch run.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 28 MIN | 7-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +4

A very good game from Douglas-Roberts, especially in the fourth quarter, when he scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting and grabbed three rebounds. He’s been a solid addition to the bench since Gerald Henderson’s injury, and it’ll be interesting to see how the team treats him this offseason.

Game #74: Bobcats vs. Wizards — The must-win of must-wins

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Washington Wizards

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 38-35 100.8 (23) 101.8 (8) 94.9 (21)
Washington 35-38 102.9 (18) 102.7 (11) 95.7 (17)

Injuries:
Charlotte: Gary Neal (Probable), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Washington: Trevor Ariza (Questionable)

Starting Lineups

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

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It’s still a long-shot, but Charlotte trails Washington by three games with eight remaining. I’m stating the obvious by testifying that the Bobcats must absolutely win this game tonight if they want even a shot to stay alive for the six seed – we’ll see the Wiz in D.C. again next Wednesday.

Recently, John Wall has done what we (and Marshawn Lynch) would call ‘put the team on his back’. Wall is averaging 23.2 PPG, 48% FG, 49.1% 3FG in the past ten games. Kemba will start on Wall, but it’s fair to presume that won’t last – what’s the approach to guarding JW and is it the key for a big time win against the Wiz tonight?

Spencer: Yeah, Clifford will have to show JW some different looks tonight. Kemba will start on him, but I’d guess that Hendo, CDR and MKG, if it gets real bad, will have a crack at it. I think the key to containing Wall is to keep him out of transition, which is one of the Bobcats strengths – they don’t send a ton of guys to the offensive glass in order to corral the opposition and force them to execute in the half-court. Clifford has shown the willingness to blitz dynamic PG’s with McBob while zoning the remaining frontcourt. If JW gets going tonight, it will be interesting to see if he elects for this approach again to get the ball out of Wall’s hands.

It sounds like the Wizards could be without Ariza tonight, which is big due to how important he is for their offensive output. Wall will take on that much more of a scoring role because of Ariza’s absence and probably elevate his offensive mindset – I think Charlotte has a chance to bait him into bad shots. Again, just don’t let the guy gets into the open floor + be sound in the PnR. If you’re Kemba, I’d say it’s his best bet to go under the screen and for the screener’s man to hedge out hard – this requires solid defensive rotation behind the PnR (show-and-recover).

If Ariza doesn’t play tonight, I like the Bobcats chances. If he does, I’ll take Washington.

Greg: Forcing Wall to take mid-range shots will probably be key — he shoots below average between the arc and the rim, and it’s where you want opponents taking shots anyway. The Bobcats’ defense encourages attempts from that area, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wall takes the bait. They’ll need to be especially careful from long range, as Wall’s three-point shooting has improved this year and he’s showing a lot of confidence in it.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain: The best way to throw John Wall off of his game is to play him physically and force him to settle for shots. Sure, that is easier said than done, but the Bobcats’ defense can do a good job of eliminating paint penetration, Wall’s most effective means of offense. If the ‘Cats throw a bigger body at Wall, someone like Hendo, and make it difficult for him to get into the paint they might have a shot to take him out of his comfort zone, and alter the Wizards’ offense attack entirely. Needless to say, this would be a big win for the Bobcats.

Bobcats and Basketball Links

I came across a few links this past week that I wanted to make sure people were aware of. That suffices for an intro.

Video discussion between Henry Abbott and David Thorpe about 3s – For reference, the Bobcats remain one of the worst in the league at defending the 3. Last season, Charlotte surrendered 38.8% shooting on threes, tying for league worst. This year, the Cats are allowing 37.7% on threes, which is 3rd worst. However, thanks to other defensive changes, Charlotte has moved from league worst in defensive efficiency a year ago (108.9 points per 100 possessions) to 9th in the league this year (101.8).

So the Bobcats have improved on defense, while still surrendering high percentage shooting on threes (and still giving up a lot of attempts as well). As such, this video doesn’t really apply to the Bobcats’ specific defensive philosophies, but still seemed interesting to me, so there you go.

The other link everyone should check out: Zach Lowe at Grantland writes about the Bobcats/Hornets rebuild/rebranding.

The Bobcats watched from afar while their aging, expensive playoff team maxed out as first-round roadkill, and they hired Rich Cho, once of the Sonics/Thunder, to take his own shot. They traded away almost every relevant veteran, held back in free agency, and went an unthinkable 28-120 combined over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

But they suffered the inverse of Oklahoma City’s lottery luck, falling backward in consecutive drawings, including a slide from pole position into the no. 2 slot in 2012 — a draft with one clear foundational superstar in Anthony Davis and a muck of unknowns after that. Close your eyes and you can still see Cho on television, taking the gut punch and wincing when the second-to-last envelope revealed the Charlotte logo.