1- STATS: In 3 games this season the Bobcats have averaged 103 PPG and shot 46.6% from field against Orlando. Why does Charlotte match-up so well with the Magic, because we all know that’s not the case often for the Cats.
Spencer: Well, the Magic, like the Bobcats, are not a very good team. Therefore, the two tend to make each other look good at times. Tonight, the Magic may make Charlotte look really good simply due to the fact that they’re depleted by injury. Arguably, their best 3 players have all been lost for the season due to injury — Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic & Glen Davis.
Raj Prashad: Charlotte dominated the paint in all three games against Orlando and will look to do the same Wednesday night. Their ability to get out in transition, be conservative with the ball and control the young Magic front court makes the Bobcats a tough matchup with Orlando.
Greg: It helps that Orlando is really bad. The Magic have lost seven in a row, and have a legitimate chance at “overtaking” Charlotte for the worst record in the league. That doesn’t mean the players don’t have promise, though. They’re just similarly a roster in flux right now, starting a mix of rookies and young players. They’ve suffered some significant injuries, too, with Glen Davis missing time and Arron Afflalo recently sidelined.
As far as on the court, they don’t defend anyone particularly well (25th in opponent eFG%) and don’t force turnovers. Their opponents also shoot 61.9% in the restricted area (fifth-worst in the league), which the Bobcats have the personnel to exploit.
Mathew: For starters, much like the Bobcats, the Magic are a bad defensive basketball team. Why are they bad defensively? They’re young (again, like the Bobcats). Young basketball teams are rarely formidable on the defensive end, particularly when it comes to team defense. Look for a high scoring game tonight.
2- OVER/UNDER: Kemba has averaged 27 PPG (53.8 FG%), 6.3 APG & 4.7 RPG in 3 meetings with Orlando this season. Take the under on these numbers tonight, right?
Spencer: I actually believe there’s a strong chance that Kemba surpasses these numbers tonight. This is going to be an up-tempo game. Probably comical to how fast this one is going to be played at times. There won’t be a whole lot of defense, because, well, neither team has a defensive identity and they’ll simply feed off each other for the opportunity to run-and-gun. Lastly, I just don’t trust the combination of Jameer Nelson, Beno Udrih and E’Twaun Moore to contain Kemba.
Raj: Under. Kemba’s been consistent this season, but his numbers against the Magic are a bit inflated thanks to a 32-point effort back in December. He’ll be more likely to hit around the range of 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
Greg: See my answer to Question No. 1 — if he’s willing to take the ball to the rack, he could have similar success on Wednesday. Kemba has been deferring to teammates a little more, however, with his points per game steadily dropping from a high in December. That’s probably good for the team overall, but at this point Walker seems to operate better when he’s dominating the ball. Finding a happy balance will be key for the team moving forward.
Mathew: Under. But barely. Jameer Nelson has never been known as a stopper and he’s getting up there in years. Therefore, Kemba should be able to get into the lane with regularity. Whether or not he tallies the requisite points most likely boils down to how efficient he shoots the ball from the mid-range and behind the arc. I’ll go 24/7/5.
3- PICK IT: Don’t say this often — Bobcats have chance to take the season series from the Magic tonight. Will it happen?
Spencer: Yeah. It will happen. Just take a glance at Orlando’s starting lineup. They have some real promising young players, but much like the Bobcats of last season – the Magic are probably sporting a D-league starting 5 currently. 110-102 Bobcats.
Raj: Without Nikola Vucevic thanks to a concussion, Orlando seems firmly focused on the offseason. I’ll give this one to Charlotte.
Greg: Sure, why not? Charlotte’s well-rested, is playing at home, has looked improved in the past ten games and seems to match up well. It’s far from a lock (nothing this year could be), but I have a better feeling about tonight’s game than any in recent memory.
Mathew: Bobcats. Although the Cats are coming off a 32-point drubbing by the Miami Heat the Magic bring a 7-game losing streak into TWC Arena. I think the Bobcats take it at home. This game could very well be termed a battle for the most ping pong balls, but without a surefire #1 pick in this year’s draft I don’t think we’ll necessarily see either team trying to lose. My opinion as a fan? I would rather them lose if it means securing the most ping pong balls for the upcoming draft, even though there is no consensus #1 pick. Having the first pick simply affords the team more options come draft night (selection, trading up/down, trading pick for veteran).
1- PERSONNEL — Jannero Pargo has been lights-out for the Bobcats so far, averaging 11 points and three assists on 62.6% true shooting (!) in 23 minutes per game. That efficiency obviously isn’t sustainable, but his three-point shooting has done a great job of opening up the offense. As good as Ramon Sessions has been, would a player like Pargo be a better fit for this team moving forward?
Greg: Ramon Sessions has been very good this year, and I don’t want to downplay his contributions. But he was mostly brought in as insurance if Kemba didn’t show growth this year, which likely won’t be an issue going forward. They each have their own strengths, but Kemba and Sessions are more similar than different, and it becomes even more problematic when they play so many minutes together. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Sessions dealt this offseason.
Ben Gordon has been the only consistent player from range this year, and he comes with his own issues on offense. Pargo is probably not the answer long-term, but shooting will be one of the biggest problems the Bobcats need to address this offseason.
2- BIG PICTURE — Charlotte obviously don’t have a great chance of winning Sunday’s game against the Heat. At this point in the season, what are you looking for from the Bobcats when they play an elite opponent?
Greg: Positive contributions from the young guys is an obvious answer here: the most frustrating thing about Saturday’s loss to Detroit was MKG being firmly planted on the bench in crunch time.
But even more important will be the way the team handles adversity. Their struggles with the three-point shot, on both sides of the ball, means that they’re prone to getting blown out. This recent stretch is the most competitive they’ve been all year; keeping things tight against the Heat would be a major moral victory and more evidence that things are starting to gel a bit for the team.
3- PICK IT (kind of) — As noted above, the Bobcats winning this game would be a pretty major upset. The line opened with Charlotte as 18.5-point underdogs — how close do you see this game coming?
Greg: I think they’ll come closer than that, though it could obviously get ugly. Both games between the teams have been competitive this year. On Feb. 4, Charlotte only lost by five; the game on Dec. 26 didn’t get out of hand until the fourth quarter. That’s mostly because the Heat tend to coast when they can, but we can still hope for the best.
Injuries: Charlotte: Ramon Sessions (OUT) Detroit: Andre Drummond (OUT), Brandon Knight (Day-to-Day)
1- DEFENSE: Greg Monroe has beaten up the Bobcats inside this year, averaging 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists on 61 percent shooting over two games. Is there any reason to believe the shift to McRoberts as starting power forward will help the post defense?
Mathew: I think it will help. Mullens, as noted ad nausea, is not a strong defender. And for all Biyombo’s natural gifts, he is often outmatched against an opponent with a relatively strong repertoire of post moves. McRoberts does not boast a great deal of raw ability on the defensive end but I believe his experience will enable him to do a better job against the talented Greg Monroe.
Greg: Greg Monroe is really, really good, so he’s probably going to get his. McRoberts has never been known for his defense, either, so it’s hard to believe he’ll shut down one of the best young centers in the league.
But! Since McRoberts has started (a small six-game sample size), Charlotte has been better at defending the paint: Teams are shooting 31.9 percent from the area over that stretch, compared to 37.8 for the season. They’ve also slightly cut down on the number of shots per game their opponents attempt at the rim. A lot of that has to do with the caliber of team the Bobcats have played recently, though it’s encouraging. They’re still giving up three-pointers at a very high rate, but baby steps are important.
2- LOOKING AHEAD: Detroit owes Charlotte a first-rounder that’s top-eight protected next year, then top-one protected in 2015. When do you think that the Pistons will have to pay out? Can they put together a team in 2013-14 that’s good enough to compete for the playoffs?
Mathew: I do think they’ll compete for a playoff spot next year. They’ll more than likely be battling the likes of the improved Toronto Raptors and possibly Bynum-led Philadelphia 76ers. Therefore, I believe they wind up paying out next year. Given the Pistons’ projection (should be improving YOY into the near future) it would be in Charlotte’s best interest to attain the pick after next season anyway.
Greg: Detroit’s in very good cap position heading into the offseason, with just under $30 million on the books according to Storytellers Contracts. Rodney Stuckey’s deal is only partially guaranteed, so they can cut him for even more space.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, this year’s draft and free agent crops are looking pretty lackluster. They could invest in some help on the wings, with players like Monta Ellis and OJ Mayo available. They can absorb a lot of salary in a trade, as well, so that could be an option.
It’s hard to imagine, with that much dead weight coming off their books, that they won’t improve on this year’s record. They’ll probably still be a fringe playoff team, but that should be good enough to escape the bottom eight.
3- PICK IT: This one’s another winnable game for the Bobcats. They’ve split the season series so far, and even their loss was a close 105-99 result. Who’s your pick?
Mathew: Bobcats. Charlotte has won three straight at home and with Brandon Knight likely to miss the contest (as well as their talented rookie Andre Drummond who is out with a stress fracture in his back) I’ll give the home squad the advantage. Kemba vs. Knight would have been entertaining to watch, though Jose Calderon, who was acquired just before the trade deadline, is a formidable matchup in his own right.
Greg: Here’s something I haven’t seen in a while: the Bobcats are actually favored by 1.5 points in this game. Detroit is coming in on a 10-game losing streak, and their starters played heavy minutes against the Heat on Friday night. The well-rested Bobcats have a very good chance to win this one.
Josh McRoberts, PF32 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-5 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -2
McRoberts came up with some huge rebounds. The biggest one came with under a minute to play — McRob deflected a ball coming off offensive glass and saved it from going out of bounds to one of his teammates. Essentially that hustle play won the game.
Bismack Biyombo, PF32 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -3
Would really like to see Biz get on the glass more, consistently. Understanding that he’s as raw and unpolished as players come when he entered this league last season gives me peace that he is progressing.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF20 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -11
Could have been more aggressive offensively, but MKG did a fantastic job on Rudy Gay defensively tonight on numerous occasions.
Kemba Walker, PG36 MIN | 4-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -2
Not a great night from the field for Kemba, but another very balanced stat line. Only one turnover tonight, so an 8/1 assist to turnover ratio is awesome for Kemba.
Gerald Henderson, SG39 MIN | 8-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | +1
Another 20+ point performance that was extremely efficient. Hendo is making quick decision when he catches the ball and his teammates are realizing that teams are keyed in on him defensively — on top of that, Hendo is finding those cutting teammates. Is this Hendo turning a corner, or playing harder to get paid?
Byron Mullens, C28 MIN | 7-11 FG | 8-12 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 25 PTS | +13
I have to give Mullens an A+ here. He had zero turnovers, forced no terrible shots (in my estimation), played enthusiastic defense and hit two big FT’s to clinch the W. I believe that McRoberts is helping Mully understand team defense concepts more.
Jannero Pargo, PG12 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +9
Spreads the floor with a true shooter on the offensive end for Charlotte and opens up the driving lanes. In 4 games with the Bobcats, Pargo is 11-19 (57.8%) from behind the arc.
Ben Gordon, SG26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +12
5-11 from the field and only turns the ball over 1 time. What else could you ask for from Gordon?
Five Things We Saw
The Bobcats have won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 21st. That was also when they started 7-5 on the season — LONG TIME AGO.
Charlotte outscored Toronto in the paint 46-42 — you definitely don’t see this team score more points around the rim than their opponent often.
Six Bobcats scored in double figures tonight. Since the arrival of McRoberts and Pargo, we continue to see this team score in a more balanced way.
Don’t look now, but the Bobcats have Detroit in town on Saturday night. Yes, three wins in a row is a real possibility!
The most encouraging aspect of these last two games is considering the idea that Coach Dunlap still has control and the attention of this team. The Bobcats have made it clear that they’re committed to the process of this season and aren’t going to quit. Not much more that you can ask for if you ask me.
1- STATS: Charlotte is shooting a putrid 37.3% from the field and 22.6% 3FG in 3 games against Toronto this season. What have the Raptors done to cause the Cats’ to struggle from the field and what can Charlotte do to improve on this?
Spencer: Two things — 1) The Bobcats were incredibly efficient on Monday night vs Washington. They achieved this rare feat of efficiency by sharing the ball and guys did a wonderful job of cutting without the ball. With McRoberts in the lineup it allows Charlotte to really stretch the floor, but not necessarily with a shooter as you would expect with a guy of McRob’s size. McRob is an exceptional passer and ends up with the ball on the top of the key looking for cutters on many possessions. One play that I really believe has improved the Bobcats offensively since the arrival of McRob is having him with the ball at top of the key and running a dribble hand off motion- the recipient of the hand off simply reads the defender and goes back door if they’re being overplayed. McRob can also put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim, so if the help defender over-commits he can finish going to the bucket as well. In short, I just really believe that McRob is opening up the game on the offensive end for guys like Hendo, Kemba, Gordon & Pargo.
2) Jannero Pargo’s ability to make the 3-point shot have made the Bobcats tougher to guard for the simple fact that defenders can’t help too much off of him like they could against Sessions. Pargo really allows the Cats’ to spread the floor better. In 3 games played with Charlotte so far, Pargo is shooting 7-14 (50%) from behind the arc.
Greg: Telling Ben Gordon to relax a bit would help: in those three games, he averaged 25 minutes and 32 percent on 13.66 attempts. Gordon’s gunning occasionally has value, but not when he’s hitting at a rate like that. Not settling for outside shots in general would also help. In their win on Nov. 21, the Bobcats scored 50 points in the paint. They combined for 54 in their two losses.
Jannero Pargo’s shooting has helped recently. In his three games so far, he’s 7-of-14 from three. That’ll revert to his career averages soon, but having a player than can knock down open three-pointers (that isn’t Gordon) seems to have opened up the offense a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get another 10-day contract soon.
Blake Murphy (Raptors Republic): Without digging up the video (sorry, I don’t hate myself that much), my guess is that the Raptors have dared the Bobcat ball handlers to shoot in mid-range. Whether that’s by sagging off the Kemba Walker’s of the world or having the bigs hedge out less on the pick and roll, the Bobcats need to recognize this and have the discipline to forego them for better shots. (I just looked it up – 37 “long twos” for Charlotte in the last two games.) Also, in the last two meeting the Cats have shot 34% and 40% at the rim, which seems unsustainably low. They can’t let that deter them from attacking.
2- OVER/UNDER: In the past 5 games Gerald Henderson is averaging 23.4 PPG, shooting 48.1% FG & 42.9% 3FG. Also, Hendo is averaging 8.2 FTA/game in this stretch. O/U those numbers tonight?
Spencer: Considering the way that Hendo is attacking the rim lately, I can see the over taking shape tonight. I also like the over because DeRozan will be guarding him to start, presumably. Hendo is evolving in just about every aspect of his game. He’s always understood angles very well, but he’s beginning to pick his spots better with facing up and backing down defenders.
Greg: It’s obviously hard to sustain numbers like that, so I’m going with the under — but the Raptors tend to foul an absurd amount, as they’re 30th in defensive FT/FGA by a healthy margin. Even if Henderson doesn’t get his eight free throws, the team will probably still have a big boost at the line Wednesday night.
Blake: I’ll take the overs. He had 6 FTA on Friday in Toronto and the Raptors are the most foul-prone team in the NBA, per B-Ref. If he shoots eight or nine freebies, I don’t see any reason why he can’t hit 23 points, even if he has a bad shooting night. He’ll get his chances – who else is gonna shoot?
3- PICK IT: Cats or Raps? Charlotte can get the series split and win 2 straight games for the first time since Nov. 19 & 21.
Spencer: Charlotte. I really believe that Dunlap is going to challenge his team to come out with tons of energy tonight. He understands that the Bobcats have to take advantage of every winnable game they have, and especially at home. After chatting with Coach Dunlap on Monday night I know that he’s pretty pleased with the team’s effort lately and he is really hoping they’ll continue to give maximum effort. All part of the developmental process. 100-95 Bobcats.
Greg: I’m trying to be optimistic when I can, so I’ll take the Bobcats. Both teams have successfully defended their turf this season, and things seemed to be clicking for Charlotte on Monday. Hopefully they can parlay that momentum into another win.
Blake: Still going Raptors, for the same reason as Friday – Raptors aren’t “tanking,” and the Cats have no incentive to win, really. The only thing I can see changing that is if Kemba Walker is naturally in “March Madness Mode” this time of year and goes HAM.
Josh McRoberts, PF36 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-9 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +1
Extremely active all over the court. McRoberts is a very smart basketball player that also brings consistent energy to the game. Has done wonders to how the Bobcats can now space the floor offensive and use him to be a distributing big man.
Bismack Biyombo, PF18 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -5
Had a better game than the stat line suggest. Did a good job of anchoring the paint defensively and defended PnR well, for the most part. Had a awesome hustle block on John Wall in transition.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF25 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +3
Efficient night for MKG. Had a monster dunk in the 1st half as well. Made quick decisions with the basketball.
Kemba Walker, PG34 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +3
I could fall in love with this stat line often.
Gerald Henderson, SG45 MIN | 8-16 FG | 10-11 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +5
Wow. The monster block on Trevor Booker. 10-11 from the FT line. He took 11 FT’s! Dagger 3 that put the game away for Charlotte. Had a career high, 8 assists. Take your pick, but what a great game for Hendo.
Kemba on Hendo block — “It was amazing. I mean, I’m just speechless.”
Dunlap on Hendo’s development — “I was brought in to develop players, first and foremost. And his development is not deniable. I think it’d be hard for anyone inside or outside the circle to say he isn’t developing. His graph line has shot up in, I would say, the last 4 weeks.”
Byron Mullens, C30 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +10
Byron only took one really bad shot tonight. It came late in the game, but it’s rather clear that he’s picking his spots better on the offensive end. Defensively, he’s just Byron. Not good. The effort is there on a more consistent basis, but he’s got a long hill to climb. 5 assist is a career high.
Jannero Pargo, PG19 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -1
He’s filling in nicely for Sessions. What the Bobcats brought him in to do. Oh, and Dunlap loves him.
Dunlap on Pargo’s defensive energy and Bobcats strategy to get the ball out of Wizards big men, Nene and Okafor — “He knows how to what we call roam, and so he’ll leave (John) Wall or (Garrett) Temple to see if he could plug some gaps and take some chances. Whatever we give up on the backside we’ll take that, but we were trying to tag (Martell) Webster, (Bradley) Beal and (Trevor) Ariza and not leave them.”
Ben Gordon, SG21 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | +5
7-10 from the field for 19 points. I don’t think you can ask for much more from Gordon than that. Turned it over 3 times, but that’s to be expected.
Dunlap post game quotes –
“I would maintain that with the Celtics win we re-grabbed the rope. In Toronto, we have a one point lead through three quarters.” …… “We go to the Celtics on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and that’s a difference experience. We played good ball, but they eventually got us. And we come into Washington game and we have every reason to not play as hard as we did tonight.”……”It’s a game within a game. The people in the locker room are on point, they do care and they are competitors.”
“We want to go into Wednesday’s game and see if we can duplicate the effort that we had tonight.”
“Our guys are developing. We have some guys that go up-and-down in that cycle and you got to stick with them. Sometimes it’s a painful process.”
Two Things We Saw
Charlotte definitely played their most efficient game offensively of the season tonight. The Bobcats scored a season high 119 points, shot a season high 53.2% from the field and had a season high 32 assist on 42 made baskets
Charlotte has Toronto at home on Wednesday night in what will be another winnable game for the Bobcats.
Coach Dunlap said that he’s continued to stress the process of an entire NBA season to his players. Used word ‘marathon’ to compare what a lengthy NBA season is like and commented that it’s definitely tough on a young team.
Brendan Haywood is listed as day-to-day on the team injury report, but Coach Dunlap did say that he expects Haywood to be available tonight.
I asked Coach Dunlap what the biggest positive is that Jannero Pargo brings to the team. Quote is below, but he’s clearly very excited to have a veteran guard who understands the basketball language that Dunlap speaks and can make adjustments on the fly. Doesn’t sound like there’s been much of a learning curve at all for Pargo in the past 5 days.
“Wisdom. The playbook. You can elude to this game, Atlanta, the Lakers, whatever. He’s got it dialed up. It’s nice to be able to talk to somebody that nods and knows exactly what you’re talking about.”
“(John) Wall stirs everything for Wizards.” -Dunlap
Dunlap stressed that containing Wall and staying with shooters, defensively, is the key for the Bobcats tonight. Washington was 14-21 (66.7%) from behind the arc against Phoenix on Saturday night.
Trevor Ariza is a game-time decision (sore left knee) and A.J. Price (sore right groin) is OUT for Washington tonight.
Ex-Bobcat guard Garrett Temple will likely start tonight for Wizards.
Josh McRoberts, PF38 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -4
Decent line for McRoberts – but enough to continue starting and getting the bulk of minutes in front of Byron Mullens, it appears.
Bismack Biyombo, PF31 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -2
Same for Bismack – well enough on the counting stats, but the Bobcats needed more for a victory.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -9
While McRoberts and Bismack did solid work on the glass, MKG only grabbed 2 in his 25 minutes, and this helped the Celtics to an overall edge on the glass.
Kemba Walker, PG27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -20
Another Bobcat who had a good game on paper – Kemba had 14 points and 4 assists in just 27 minutes. But the Bobcats lost by 20 in those 27 minutes.
Gerald Henderson, SG34 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -6
Gerald Henderson had a decent night – but the Bobcats needed a repeat of his career high that he put on the Celtics in the win, not an average game.
Byron Mullens, C17 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-5 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -15
60% from the field. 50% on threes. 20% on free throws. How does that happen? But otherwise, good work from Byron in limited minutes with 8 and 5.
Jannero Pargo, PG21 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +3
I would say the Bobcats have a second Ben Gordon on the roster now in Jannero Pargo, as Pargo dropped 18 points in just 21 minutes (with 4 makes from long range), but considering Gordon’s line tonight, that wouldn’t be fair to Pargo (I’m not saying Pargo is better long run – but for a comment in a quick hit recap, give me this one).
Ben Gordon, SG25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -9
4 of 11 from the field for 8 points, plus 4 turnovers. On the plus side for Gordon, he out-rebounded MKG, which caused me to revise MKG’s grade from a D to a D-.
Injuries: Charlotte: Ramon Sessions (OUT), Byron Mullens (day-to-day) Boston: Rudy Gay (day-to-day), Andrea Bargnani (OUT)
1- STATS: For the most part, neither of these teams sticks out in a positive way statistically. Toronto (12.7) and Charlotte (13.0) are both top-5 in the league in Turnover Ratio. Is the team that causes more turnovers the favorite tonight?
Greg: It’s definitely possible, but I’m not sure how much it would benefit Charlotte. The Bobcats aren’t particularly good at forcing turnovers, ranking 21st in TOV%. When they do force mistakes, they aren’t always great at taking advantage of it. Only 15.2 percent of Charlotte’s offense comes off of turnovers, which is 28th in the league.
It could come down to free throw shooting — both teams are skilled at drawing fouls, ranking in the top ten in FT/FGA. If that does decide the game, Charlotte likely holds the edge. Toronto fouls like crazy, rating dead last (by a pretty wide margin) in opponent free throw attempts.
Blake Murphy, Raptors Republic: If that’s the case, the Bobcats probably win. The Raptors rank highly but have dropped to middle of the pack since dealing Jose Calderon, including 17 turnovers against Boston on Wednesday night. Jonas Valanciunas’ turnovers are an acceptable part of learning in the post, but Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay haven’t taken great care of the ball lately either. The biggest change has been DeMar DeRozan, who had a nice tidy turnover rate before but has turned the ball over on one extra possession a game since Gay came in. I don’t fault the players individually, really, as Dwane Casey’s sets lack movement and proper spacing, forcing a lot of one-on-one play and late bail-out passes.
2- RUDY GAY: Toronto is better on the offensive and defensive end of the floor when Rudy Gay is in the game. Gay ON floor: Offensive Rating- 103.4; Defensive Rating- 98.6. Gay OFF floor: Offensive Rating- 96.2; Defensive Rating- 109.5. There’s been some criticism dealt Toronto’s way about doing this trade. Assess.
Greg: Gay’s impact on the court is almost secondary due to his salary. His cap hit makes it very difficult for Toronto to make any big moves in the next two seasons — they’re already essentially locked in for next year’s team, with over $67 million already committed. They’ve gone 9-10 since the trade. How much better can they reasonably expect to get?
Blake: Yeah, people don’t love it, myself included. But my issue was more with the loss of roster flexibility and overpaying a good-not-great player more than anything. Has Gay really improved the team? While the on/off court numbers support it, the Raptors are actually the pretty similar before and after the deal as a whole (-2.1 points per 100 possessions before, -0.5 since per NBA.com Stats tool), and that improvement is owed at least in part to a friendlier schedule in that stretch. The biggest issue is Gay’s shot selection, as he’s shooting a terrible percentage (37.9%) and can’t hit a three to save his life (23.5%) but continuing to fire from everywhere. Again, some of it is the lack of offensive creativity from the bench, but a good deal of the blame comes down to his decision making, too. Maybe the Raptors are a bit better with Gay in the fold, but he’s got a long way to go to “changing the franchise” as was hoped.
3- PICK IT: Don’t say this often (or ever), but the Bobcats are coming off a 26-point beat down of the Celtics on Tuesday night. The Raptors lost by 24 in Boston one night later. Who you got?
Greg: I’ll take the Raptors. Charlotte’s defense looked good for stretches against the Celtics, but they haven’t been able to play with any consistency this season. I’ll buy in when they can string together a few competitive games.
Blake: I’m going to say Toronto, because the tanking is strong with Charlotte. Of course, they’ve got a nice cushion for that bottom spot, but the Raptors don’t really have much incentive to tank (their pick is top-three protected, and a top-three selection is a long shot now) and SHOULD want to bounce back with a win.