Queen City Hoops

Game #71: Bobcats vs. Rockets Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Houston Rockets

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 34-36 100.6 (23) 101.4 (6) 95.1 (21)
Houston 47-22 108.5 (4) 102.5 (10) 98.3 (7)

Injuries:
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Houston: Dwight Howard (Questionable), Greg Smith (OUT), Francisco Garcia (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Rockets
PG Kemba Walker Patrick Beverley
SG Gerald Henderson James Harden
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Chandler Parsons
PF Josh McRoberts Terrence Jones
C Al Jefferson Omer Asik
6th Man Gary Neal Jeremy Lin

The Rockets have followed up their three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak and appear to be back on track – in their past five games Houston is firing threes from all over the floor – to a tune of 29.4 3FGA/game, making 11/game (37.4%) in this five-game stretch.

Guarding the three-point line will obviously be extremely important in slowing down a potent Rockets offense tonight and Charlotte did a great job against another dangerous three-point shooting team, Portland, on Saturday night – 9-of-27 (33%).

How were the Bobcats successful against Portland defensively on Saturday night and is the model for keeping Houston at bay exactly the same?

Spencer: Controlling dribble-penetration is very important against any team that can really spread the floor and shoot it. Charlotte did a nice job of corralling Damian Lilliard on Saturday, but Houston is a little bit of a different animal. Patrick Beverley, one of the quicker guards in the league. James Harden, a guy who is better at getting to whatever spot he wants on the floor than anyone else in the association. Jeremy Lin, well, LINSANITY! Point is, Charlotte has their work cut out for them to keep the basketball in front tonight – I really think it’s the key to having an impressive defensive performance.

I just want to touch on the opportunity that the Bobcats have tonight – back-to-back wins over Portland and Houston would not only send a message to the upper-tier of the eastern conference, but also give the team the momentum they need going into a huge matchup with Brooklyn on Wednesday.

The Rockets could be without D12 for the fourth straight game and this would certainly open the flood gates up for Jefferson. I like the Bobcats to keep the momentum going tonight — 105-102 Charlotte.

Greg: The Blazers took about as many threes on Saturday as they usually do (27 vs. an average of 25.1 on the season), but Charlotte was able to make the looks more difficult. The Bobcats successfully cramped Portland’s ball movement, keeping them significantly below their season average in assists and forcing a larger percentage of their threes to come off the dribble. If they can do the same against the Rockets, it couldn’t hurt: more of their three-pointers are assisted than Portland, and restricting passes is always a plus.

Brooklyn Nets 104, Charlotte Bobcats 99: Bobcats come up just short

Charlotte Bobcats 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 104 Brooklyn Nets
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +4

A good passing night from McRoberts, as he put together one of his trademark box scores. His late airball three with the game on the line leaves a sour taste in the mouth, though.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -4

MKG has been crushing the offensive boards lately, and he helped generate some second-chance points and easy scoring opportunities again tonight. His defensive rotations were a little off tonight, but he gave just enough on offense to help balance that out.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 37 MIN | 8-19 FG | 2-3 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | -8

Jefferson’s been on fire the last few months, but he’s cooling off (just a bit) at an unfortunate time: This was the first time he’s had less than 20 points in consecutive games since Jan. 10.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | -8

Kemba’s has seemed allergic to the paint recently, and just one of his attempts tonight came within 20 feet. A lot of that has to do with the solid defense from Brooklyn, but settling for long jumpers still hurts. On the plus side, Walker’s passing has been sharp, as he’s averaging 7.7 assists over the last 10 games.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -1

Mediocre offensively, good on defense, hustled for boards and struggled from long range. Gerald’s year in bite-size form.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 17 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -9

This might have been Zeller’s most impressive game, at least as far as the highlight reel. Eight of his 10 points came on his points came on emphatic dunks, including a sweet alley-oop from Chris Douglas-Roberts and a putback slam. In the long term, Zeller will still need to develop his jumpshot, but his recent focus near the basket has helped his productivity.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3

The rebounds are nice, his three fouls less so. It was an issue for the whole team tonight, as the Nets went to the stripe 35 times compared to 12 for the Bobcats. The team is typically very good at avoiding fouls, and with the margin for error so thin, it more or less lost them the game.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3

He didn’t score much, but he kept things lively and avoided any turnovers tonight. It’s what the team needs from him, especially with Gary Neal and Chris Douglas-Roberts providing excellent bench offense.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -9

Neal has been throwing flames since he got to Charlotte, scoring 13 points a game on 48 percent shooting, 53 percent from three and 97 percent from the line. Clifford trusts Neal enough to play him down the stretch, and that nearly paid off tonight. 12 of Neal’s 17 points came in the final quarter, on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +4

CDR has been a nice spark off the bench, especially with his three-point shooting. It’s unfortunate that Anthony Tolliver has mostly been squeezed out as a result, but Douglas-Roberts brings more versatile, dynamic play on offense and some needed speed on defense.

One Thing We Saw

  1. A loss is disappointing, but the effort wasn’t. On the road, playing their third game in four nights against an evenly matched opponent, the Bobcats took the Nets to the very brink. They’ll get a shot at revenge next Wednesday.

Game #69: Bobcats @ Nets – Sixth seed still in sight; Must-win tonight? NEW PODCATS TOO!

Who: Brooklyn Nets vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Nets Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Brooklyn 34-31 103.4 (15) 103.9 (14) 94.0 (26)
Charlotte 33-35 100.1 (24) 101.3 (6) 95.2 (21)

Injuries:
Brooklyn: Kevin Garnett (OUT), Brook Lopez (OUT)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Nets Bobcats
PG Deron Williams Kemba Walker
SG Shaun Livingston Gerald Henderson
SF Joe Johnson Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Paul Pierce Josh McRoberts
C Mason Plumlee Al Jefferson
6th Man Andray Blatche Gary Neal

The Bobcats suffered a tough loss to the Hawks at home on Monday night, but short memory is now key. Tonight is a very important game if Charlotte realistically wants a chance to escape the seventh and eighth seeds (AKA: stuck playing Indiana or Miami) in the east. Not only that, but after the Hawks win at home last night against Toronto, Atlanta is now just one-game behind Charlotte for the seventh seed.

Last night, Doug Branson, Peter Haley and myself discussed the Bobcats chances of getting to the sixth seed and what tonight’s game means in order for that to happen. LISTEN to last night’s show here.

We’re going to tackle one burning question for today’s preview:

Charlotte has an enormous game in Brooklyn tonight if they want to stay alive in the race for the sixth seed in the eastern conference. So, that being said, does it make tonight’s game a must-win?

Spencer: Brooklyn has been a way different team since the all-star break – in the past 20 games Brooklyn is 14-6 overall. The Nets have been better offensively in the past 20 – 104.2 offensive efficiency (+0.8 season avg.), but the real difference has come on the defensive end – 100.6 defensive efficiency (-3.3 season avg.). This is a veteran centric Brooklyn team, so their improvement on the defensive end basically just tells me that these guys decided to start playing harder.

Tonight is a very important game for the Bobcats. As far as a must-win? I think it all depends on what you really believe this teams ceiling is – if you think they’re better than the Nets and deserve the sixth seed, then yes, it’s a must-win. I don’t personally believe the Bobcats are as dangerous in the post-season as Brooklyn is and will ultimately end up with the seventh seed, facing off with Miami in round-one. So, no, I don’t think tonight is a must-win. However, the teams performance must be improved from Monday night – that was kind of pathetic.

Greg: If they’d won against Atlanta, there would probably be a little less pressure. At this point, they need to win consistently just to maintain their current spot at seventh in the playoff rankings. Tonight’s game should be very interesting, as it’s a great dry run for the playoffs: on the road, against a good, veteran opponent, with seeding on the line. Another dud like Monday’s loss would be pretty discouraging.

Michael: Tonight’s game against Brooklyn is basically a must-win for Charlotte. If they want to enter the playoffs and match up with someone other than Miami or Indiana, then they need to hold onto the sixth seed. The Nets have been playing some of the best basketball since January 1st, and are looking to continue to build momentum. A steady dose of Al Jefferson early and often should keep Brooklyn busy and give Charlotte a shot. So while a loss wouldn’t end their season, a win is very important for playoff positioning.

Bobcats lose 11th straight to Hawks

Atlanta Hawks 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -16

Atlanta made it clear that they were going to play off of McBob and pay more attention to denying post-entries to Jefferson. Like, they played way off of McBob. Is it a bit of an outlier that he was this bad from the floor tonight? Sure. That being said, teams are going to continue to keep this approach when guarding Charlotte. The effectiveness of McBob shooting the ball for the remainder of the season is an underlying storyline to just how far the Bobcats will go.

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

Kept balls alive tonight off of the glass and did a decent job with Kyle Korver, other than the 3rd quarter. Got to make your free throws MKG.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 6-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -13

Antic and Brand did a very nice job against Jefferson in this game. Both guys were extremely physical with him, not allowing Big Al to get where he wanted around the basket, and also stayed on their feet when Jefferson shot faked. As I mentioned earlier, the Hawks sagged so far off of McBob with Millsap that they took away the post-entry angles from Charlotte. Point being, Jefferson really didn’t get a ton of touches tonight.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 7-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -16

Really the only Bobcat who had it going tonight. Very good shooting the ball from distance. Kemba played with a pep in his step tonight. Does anyone think he knows it’s March?

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -5

This is a solid stat line for Hendo. It would have been even better if Jefferson would’ve produced what we’ve become accustomed to from him, but again, props to Atlanta for their scheme.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3

Needs to find the stroke again. Minutes are dwindling.

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

Struggled, but had an awesome and-1 in the first half — running the floor like a deer and being rewarded by CDR.

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

The Bobcats had 7 turnovers as a team and Biz was responsible for 2 of them. Also, he picked up 3 fouls in just shy of 8 minutes played. You be the judge.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +2

Good minutes from Ridnour tonight. Love the corner 3 that he hit and this is a major way that he can add value while on the floor. Spacing.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -9

Neal was forcing everything tonight. Not sharing the ball, constantly looking for his shot (which is fine when every shot isn’t a bad one) and he was in a pouty mood. Not my favorite performance from Neal to say the least.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Short memory will be important here – HUGE GAME in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Charlotte Bobcats 101, Milwaukee Bucks 92: Sunday Hangover

Charlotte Bobcats 101 FinalRecap | Box Score 92 Milwaukee Bucks
Josh McRoberts, PF 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +13

A typically well-rounded game from McRoberts. He scored all nine of his points on treys, bouncing back nicely from Friday’s 0-for-6 performance from long range.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 27 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +13

Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t get any fourth-quarter minutes, as Steve Clifford opted to play Gary Neal and Gerald Henderson down the stretch, but he was effective when he was on the floor. He’s been more aggressive on the offensive end recently, seeing an uptick in both his scoring and offensive rebounding.

Al Jefferson, C 37 MIN | 10-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 6 TO | 20 PTS | +8

Jefferson ended up having a nice game after struggling early — the Bucks held him to just four points in the opening half, and harassed him into six turnovers total. Al kept grinding, though, scoring 10 points in the third quarter and helping Charlotte reclaim the game.

Kemba Walker, PG 31 MIN | 7-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +13

Kemba didn’t attempt a shot at the rim, but that doesn’t matter when your jumper is falling. He needed a game like this after a few recent clunkers. The defense was less impressive, though, as Milwuakee’s point guards combined for 39 points.

Gerald Henderson, SG 31 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +18

An excellent overall game from Henderson, as he stuffed the stat sheet and scored a very efficient 14 points on seven shots. He made several big hustle plays down the stretch, including a tough rebound in traffic that sealed the win.

Cody Zeller, C 16 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4

It was a quieter game for Zeller, but you can still see the growth he’s made. Even when he isn’t scoring, he looks noticeably more confident and assertive. His improved rebounding has been especially welcome.

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

Biyombo had some nice flashes on offense, hitting a baseline jumper and shaking off a defender for a bucket in the post. There were a few awkward moments when he ended up with the ball late in the shot clock (see below), but on the whole he was steady.

Luke Ridnour, PG 17 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4

Zero turnovers was nice to see, but Ridnour still needs to learn the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Dumping the ball to Biyombo with five seconds left on the shot clock isn’t going to work, and he’s done that a little too often.

Gary Neal, SG 25 MIN | 5-6 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -1

Neal is here to score, and he was nearly perfect in today’s game. 18 points on six shots, including a late dagger three that blew the game open, was a great way to make his return to Milwaukee.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 13 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -12

A bit of a comedown after his good game on Friday, but he should hopefully find a little more consistency as he gets more time.

One Thing We Saw

  1. This was a weird game in general, with the Bobcats trailing for most of play despite shooting 57 percent from the floor. An uncharacteristic 17 turnovers hurt them a lot, as did Milwaukee’s 15 offensive rebounds. The Bucks had 21 more field-goal attempts than Charlotte did; they’re lucky to get out of this one with a win.

Charlotte Bobcats 105, Minnesota Timberwolves 93: Depth Charge

Minnesota Timberwolves 93 FinalRecap | Box Score 105 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF 27 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +14

McRoberts was 0-for-6 from three, and most of those were wide open. His passing keeps things fluid, though, especially since coach Steve Clifford has been giving him more minutes with the second unit. McRoberts’ ballhandling there keeps the offense churning without Kemba Walker and puts less pressure on the turnover-prone Luke Ridnour.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 25 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -1

MKG was pleasantly aggressive in the first quarter, scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. His rebounding was a positive all night, especially his four offensive boards, and he helped Charlotte carve out a 54-35 rebound advantage.

Al Jefferson, C 38 MIN | 12-26 FG | 1-1 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | 0

Jefferson got his, even if it wasn’t the most efficient game. That was partially due to the refs swallowing their whistles as he fought through double- and triple-teams; Al only attempted one free throw. The team basically expects Jefferson to be excellent on a nightly basis, and he doesn’t disappoint often.

Kemba Walker, PG 34 MIN | 3-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | -1

March hasn’t been kind to Kemba. He’s averaging 13.8 points a game on just 34.7 percent from the field, and his three-point shooting has cratered to 22.7 percent. On the plus side, his assists are up (7.4 per game) and the team is winning (5-3). If he can find his stroke, the Bobcats could be very dangerous down the stretch.

Gerald Henderson, SG 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +3

Henderson faded after exploding for eight points in five first quarter minutes, but the team has suddenly found itself with an embarrassment of riches on the wing. His shooting, rebounding and defense were all on point in his more limited time.

Cody Zeller, C 21 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -2

Zeller didn’t exactly stretch the floor, with all five of his makes coming at the rim, but he did a very good job rebounding, running the floor and getting open looks. Three assists isn’t shabby, either. Zeller has been a dependable piece off the bench in the past 10 games, averaging eight points on 53 percent shooting and grabbing 5.4 rebounds in just 18 minutes a game.

Bismack Biyombo, C 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +12

Nothing flashy from Biz, but he helped clamp down the Timberwolves offense during a second-quarter run that blew the game open. Especially nice was a fingertip block on a Kevin Love fadeaway that really showed off his wingspan.

Luke Ridnour, PG 14 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +13

The counting stats all look good, at least, but Ridnour plays out of control in a scary way. The team could use a steady ballhandler off the bench, and three turnovers in 14 minutes is too many.

Gary Neal, SG 25 MIN | 6-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +11

Gary Neal was seemingly possessed by the ghost of Ben Gordon tonight (the good Ben Gordon). He started out by machine-gunning Minnesota for 16 points in the first half, and his four assists were the cherry on top.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +11

CDR’s been terrific in his recent stretch, helping push the pace and playing solid defense. The team suddenly has more wing players than it knows what to do with, but Clifford did an excellent job managing the rotations: Douglas-Roberts, Neal, Henderson and Kidd-Gilchrist all got at least 20 minutes, and all contributed in significant ways that played to their strengths.

Anthony Tolliver, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION

Unfortunately, that squeezed out Anthony Tolliver. Clifford has said he’ll play matchups and give minutes to the players that earn them, and it’s hard to argue against AT’s DNP-CD. He’ll be back.

Steve Clifford

This was touched on above, but the team’s rotations have been terrific recently. Chris Douglas-Roberts is playing with confidence, and Clifford seems content to let that ride as long as it’s working. Meanwhile, his tinkering with the second-unit lineups paid off tonight.

Game #66: Minnesota Timberwolves at Charlotte Bobcats preview

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.

— The Timberwolves are a team that should be better than they are. They’re in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rating, but are just barely treading water in the Western Conference at 32-31. Their offense does some things at an elite level, especially protecting the ball and offensive rebounding, but their poor three-point shooting (and shooting in general) has  hurt them. Defensively, they force a lot of turnovers and avoid fouling, but aren’t particularly good at keeping the ball out of the basket: opponents average 47 percent from the floor against them, the second-worst mark in the league. If the Bobcats can protect the ball and rebound well, they’ll have a good shot in this one.

— Sixth man Gary Neal will return to the court tonight, after sitting out Wednesday’s game due to an “internal team matter.” More options are always welcome, and it’s a good sign to see the team handle issues like this professionally. But Neal might have seen his minutes drop anyway, as Chris Douglas-Roberts has been on a tear recently. In four starts while Gerald Henderson was injured, CDR averaged 12.5 points on 45 percent shooting and 53 percent on three-pointers. He continued that hot play from the bench on Wednesday, adding 10 points in 21 minutes. I’d expect to see Douglas-Roberts get the bulk of the backup time at shooting guard as long as he’s playing this well.

— The Bobcats will be defending their seven-game home winning streak, while the Timberwolves have struggled on the road at 14-18. Minnesota should be well-rested, though, with their last game coming on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Prediction: I like the way Charlotte’s been playing recently, but not this matchup. Kevin Love’s range will  pull the Bobcats big men away from the basket, and Al Jefferson got beat up inside by Nikola Pekovic in the teams’ last matchup. This should be a closer game than that 119-92 piledriving, but I think Charlotte still drops this one 98-90.

Bobcats make a statement in D.C.

Charlotte Bobcats 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Washington Wizards
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5

A ho-hum kind of game for McBob truly. Did absolutely nothing to hurt his teams chances here, and in typical fashion, didn’t force anything tonight.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +15

Here we are. A contest in which MKG is a factor on the stat sheet. He played 30 min tonight in part because of how good of a job he was doing guarding Trevor Ariza and in part to being so huge for Charlotte on the glass. Three offensive rebounds that were in traffic of four Wizards players – fantastic hustle. Not giving up on plays.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 36 MIN | 13-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +16

Speaking of ho-hum. The scoring 25+ points every night and grabbing 10+ rebounds thing simply isn’t coming easier to any other center in the NBA currently. There simply isn’t a big out there right now that can guard Jefferson – stupid efficient from the floor.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 5-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +8

Kemba played with an extra spark all night to my eye. Likely, due to the fact that he was playing against John Wall and Wall was getting the best of his early on. Kemba made a running 27 foot three-point shot as the shot clock expired with 4:30 to go in the 4th – it proved to be the dagger, extended the lead to 90-80 and the Bobcats never looked back.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +12

Oh man, the fadeaway corner jumper was wet tonight! It looks like a horrible shot to the eye, but it’s a rhythm jumper just like Kemba’s rhythm dribble jump-shot. Neither appear to be extremely efficient basketball plays, but it’s what Hendo + Kemba feel comfortable with. Welcome back Hendo. He probably helped himself a bit as Clifford tries to juggle CDR, Tolliver, MKG’s and Hendo’s minutes.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -2

Tolliver is letting shots fly on-the-catch these days. Rightfully so, as he’s one of the best in the league as far as 3FG% is concerned (41%).

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 17 MIN | 2-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +8

The two turnovers in 17 minutes hurt the grade a bit, but Zeller continues to be a beast on the glass in the minutes that he gets — averaging 12 REB/40 min and 5.4 RPG (in just 17 min/game) in the past five games.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3

Not much to note here. He still can’t catch the ball. That’s something.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 11 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +5

Did not turn the ball over and that’s the most encouraging aspect of this game for Luke. He hit a big pull-up jump-shot early in the 4th quarter to extend Bobcats lead to three and keep the momentum on Charlotte’s side.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +1

‘Ooooo, kill ‘em’ from behind-the-arc right now my friend. CDR has knocked down 15-26 from deep in the past seven games. Don’t read too much into CDR’s lesser minutes tonight – Hendo was back in the lineup and had it going offensively + MKG was competent offensively while bringing toughness. Only so many minutes to go around and an aspect of the playoff push that will be interesting to closely watch.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |

After going through warmups with the team, dressed out and seemingly ready to go last night, Neal was benched the entire game. Why?

—–>

“I made a mistake,” Neal told the Charlotte Observer after the game. “Me and coach talked about it and we’ll move forward from there.”

Gary Neal hasn’t had a phenomenal year when it comes to his attitude and behavior – that dates back to Milwaukee. Enough Gary. My true thoughts were on record last night. Read below.

Steve Clifford

Whatever it was that Gary Neal did/said, good for you sitting him. Playoff season is coming and in the past 48 hours Clifford has come out and said that the guys “who don’t get it won’t play” and benched his 6th man. Does everyone understand who’s in charge around here? Okay, good.

Three Things We Saw

  1. With the win tonight, the Bobcats have evened the series series with the Wizards, pulled within 2 1/2 games of the 6th seed and will still see Washington two more times this season (home-and-home). Opportunity.
  2. Charlotte went 17-22 from the free-throw line tonight while the Wizards were just 6-9. The Bobcats also scored 11 fast-break points (mostly off of Washington turnovers), bettering only 2 for the Wiz.
  3. The next three games for Charlotte include only one against an opponent that is over .500 (T’Wolves): vs. Minnesota (Friday), @ Milwaukee (Sunday), vs. Atlanta (Monday).

Game #65: Bobcats @ Wizards Preview, Links + BRAND NEW PodCats Show

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 33-30 103.0 (18) 102.7 (11) 95.6 (19)
Charlotte 30-34 99.7 (25) 101.5 (7) 95.3 (21)

Injuries:

Washington: Kevin Seraphin (Probable), Nene Hilario (OUT)
Charlotte: 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 Josh McRoberts
C Marcin Gortat Al Jefferson
6th Man Martell Webster Gary Neal
  • Tonight the Bobcats play a big time game and one that will have heightened implications for the backend of the eastern conference playoff race. Currently, the Wiz sit 3 1/2 games up on Charlotte and in the fifth seed, but a Charlotte win tonight would pull them a game closer in the standings and tie the season series – there will be two more games left in this series after tonight (home-and-home). Tie-breaker very much still in the air.
  • Gerald Henderson will rejoin the starting lineup tonight after missing five games due to a right calf strain that he suffered in Oklahoma City. This is good news for the Bobcats, I think, right? CDR has been phenomenal in Hendo’s absence and I’ve referenced several times this week that I believe how Clifford manages CDR + Hendo’s minutes as the playoffs approach will be very interesting. CDR in Hendo’s absence (5 games): 30 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 52.2 3FG%.
  • Steve Clifford has made it clear that the guys “who don’t get it” will not play as this team approaches the post-season. Clifford has a playoff squad and he’s going to coach them like that for the remainder of the season.
  • I joined Conor Dirks of the Wizards ESPN TrueHoop blog ‘Truth About It’ to talk about tonight’s matchup and many other intriguing questions regarding the Bobcats. Interesting stuff and props to TAI – they’re doing some awesome coverage of the Wiz.
  • Washington lost their starting center Nene seven games ago to an MCL injury, but they haven’t lost a step since that — the Wizards are 5-2 without Nene. Marcin Gortat, the Wiz’ current starting center has certainly not been anything to mock – past five games: 14 PPG, 11 RPG, 60 FG%. Gortat is a very smart player on both ends of the floor. He’ll be a tough matchup for Jefferson tonight because of the fact that he defends so well with both arms – an underrated defensive skill for a big man.
  • LISTEN to Al Jefferson talk to Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo on ‘SVP & RUSSILLO’ (ESPN Radio) – talking about his decision to sign in the off-season with Charlotte, the Bobcats success this season, his NBA journey + success and what it’s like playing for owner Michael Jordan.
  • And last, but certainly not least, LISTEN to the latest PodCats Show. Doug Branson and I talk about the playoff push, minutes distribution, and fair warning, I get a little passionate talking Biz and MKG at one point. Enjoy.
  • Prediction tonight: 96-95 Bobcats.

Bobcats finish season sweep of Nuggets; Get to 30 wins

Denver Nuggets 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +6

McBob found the touch from downtown again – makes him so much more versatile as the “connector” for this offense.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +3

Unfortunately, this is the type of stat line we’ve come to expect from MKG. His impact on the game is not going to show up in any statistical categories very often – making the opposition’s best wing scorer work hard for what he gets, early in the game, definitely has value.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 12-23 FG | 2-6 FT | 13 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | +2

He came out-of-the-gates firing on all cylinders offensively – puts the defense in a bad situation and forces the extra defender to come, which most coaches want to avoid until they absolutely have to. Big Al got some help from the rest of the roster, but the Bobcats are going to ride this guys back as far as he’ll carry them.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 41 MIN | 6-15 FG | 12-12 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | +3

12-12 from the foul line? Yes! That’s efficiency. At Walker’s prime, whenever that comes, this is the type of stat line that we should expect to see. Somewhat consistently. He’s still learning how to get his around the rim, being the smallest guy on the floor + still learning how to get to the foul line consistently. If nothing else this season, Kemba has shown us all that he’s going to play PG a long time in this league because of his ability to take care of the basketball — only 9.5% of Kemba’s possessions end up in turnovers – that’s good for 10th in the NBA among PG’s that play 30+ min/night.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 2-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +2

CDR is now probably officially listed as a threat from deep in the scouting report for Charlotte now. He’s comfortable taking the three, taking some pressure off of Tolliver + the deep shots he’s knocking down are coming during much needed times. Again, should be very interesting to see how the minutes are managed between CDR and Hendo as the playoffs approach.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

Mini-slump: Tolliver is now 2-14 from behind-the-arc in the past three games. He’ll be fine.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 10 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +1

Saw decreased minutes tonight due to Josh McRoberts + Gary Neal performances. Continues to be much more efficient with his minutes and looks so much more comfortable on the floor.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +5

Just keep fighting Biz. I know you will and not complain – that’s exactly why you’re more valuable to this team down the stretch than most realize.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 7-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +1

Bravo! This is the performance that we’ve all been waiting on. When Neal is stroking it like this and can be on the floor with Kemba, it gets fun. Again, Neal being able to keep a distributors mindset while also being a more all-around offensive threat (than Sessions) will prove Charlotte the winners of the trade when we look back.

Steve Clifford

The Kemba, Neal, CDR/Tolliver, McRoberts, Jefferson lineup is so much fun.

Three Things We Saw

  1. This is Charlotte’s 7th straight home win. The franchise record is nine.
  2. The Bobcats win didn’t help them gain ground on Brooklyn for 6th in the east as they also beat Toronto. It appears as if it’s going to take Charlotte a rather Herculean effort to catch the Nets – they’ve won seven of nine and scored 100+ points in six of those wins.
  3. Charlotte will get a day’s rest and play @ Washington tomorrow night. A divisional foe that they’re chasing – currently in 5th + 3 1/2 games up.