Queen City Hoops

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.

Game #64: Bobcats vs. Nuggets Primer + Links

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Denver Nuggets

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 29-34 99.6 (25) 101.6 (7) 95.2 (21)
Denver 27-35 103.1 (16) 105.2 (21) 100.0 (3)

Injuries:

Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (game-time decision), Brendan Haywood (game-time decision), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Denver: Nate Robinson (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Nuggets
PG Kemba Walker Ty Lawson
SG Chris Douglas-Roberts Randy Foye
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Wilson Chandler
PF Josh McRoberts Kenneth Faried
C Al Jefferson Timofey Mozgov
6th Man Gary Neal Evan Fournier
  • The settling news: The Nuggets had to play last night. And not only that, but they lost and had to go to overtime to do it. Denver should have heavy legs tonight coming into Charlotte. The unsettling news is that these are the winnable home games that Charlotte simply can’t afford to slip up in – Bobcats are three games behind a surging Brooklyn team for the #6 spot in the east and five games ahead of ninth-place Detroit.
  • Charlotte and Denver are propped right next to each other in Marc Stein’s latest ESPN Power Rankings — Bob’s don’t move from last week.
  • The Nuggets are 3-12 in their past 15 games, so it’s safe to say that it’s been a struggle since the all-star break. Trending in the wrong direction has been fueled by turnovers – Denver is averaging 17.4 TO/game in the past 15, opposed to 15.8 for the season. For the season, Denver has been an average to slightly below average defensive team, but in the past 15 games they’re sporting a pathetic 110.1 defensive rating. Probably a bi-product of the tank rank rising more than anything.
  • Trying to stop Ty: Lawson has has an all-star type of year for the Nuggets and he’s probably the only guy on this roster that’s involved in the long-term rebuilding plan. He’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 9.0 APG + sporting a PER of 20.36 (5th among PG’s) this season. Ultimately, Lawson is pretty much everything that Bobcats fans should want Kemba to become.
  • Gerald Henderson is considered a game-time decision tonight, but Chris Douglas-Roberts has filled in very nicely lately. CDR is averaging 13.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG + shooting 8-13 (61%) from behind-the-arc since sliding into the starting lineup for Hendo last Wednesday. CDR allows the team to play a little bit faster and also space the floor much more effectively. It will be very interesting to see how Clifford manages his minutes once Hendo does return.
  • Sounds like Brendan Haywood is very close to returning to action and will basically depend on when he feels most comfortable with it. I doubt that he’d slice into Biz’ minutes too much and would likely only serve as a value on night’s that Charlotte played an opponent with huge centers.
  • Charlotte has to jump on Denver early tonight and use the Nuggets heavy legs against them. If you want to realistically believe that the Bobcats can catch Brooklyn for the #6 then tonight is absolutely a MUST-WIN.
  • Prediction: 99-92 Bobcats.

Game #63: Bobcats @ Grizzlies Preview

Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Grizzlies Home Game

When: 8:00 PM ET

Where: Live at FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Memphis 35-26 102.7 (19) 102.4 (11) 92.2 (30)
Charlotte 29-33 99.8 (24) 101.4 (7) 95.2 (21)

Injuries:

Memphis: Mike Miller (DTD)
Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Grizzlies Bobcats
PG Mike Conley Jr. Kemba Walker
SG Courtney Lee Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF Tayshaun Prince Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Zach Randolph Josh McRoberts
C Marc Gasol Al Jefferson
6th Man Tony Allen Gary Neal
  • Charlotte is in the ‘Grindhouse’ tonight – what a great nickname for an arena. So fitting for the style that Memphis loves to play. The Grizzlies use less possessions of any team in the NBA. This group wants to muddy the water, play as physical as possible, and yep, grind it out for W’s. Oh, and they’re really good at it.
  • The Grizzlies will play a ton of high-low with Gasol and Randolph. Really, they’re going to force the ball to the rim in pretty much anyway they can. Only 15.9% of Memphis’ total points are accounted for from long range (three-pointers) – that’s easily the lowest percentage in the league. For example, the Bobcats are bottom-5 in this category, but 18.7% of their total points come from the bonusphere. Clifford: ‘Pack it in tonight boys.’
  • Charlotte and Memphis are both stingy on allowing their opponents to grab offensive rebounds – the Bobcats are 2nd in the league in defensive rebounding rate (77.1) and the Grizzlies are 5th (75.8). On the same token, Charlotte will concede offensive rebounding to get back on defense. With Gasol and Randolph, the Grizzlies will not – Memphis boards 27.8% (6th) of their offensive rebound opportunities. Something has to give here, and how effectively the Bobcats are able to limit the Grizz second chance opportunities tonight will carry serious weight on the result.
  • Al Jefferson: past 5 games — 29.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 63.5 FG%. How will Memphis choose to handle him? My guess is that Gasol will garner the assignment on his own until it doesn’t work – there’s a good chance that could be the case. Look, Gasol is a solid post-defender, but there’s simply been no one that can stop Jefferson recently. Nobody.
  • Charlotte needs to look to push the pace as much as possible tonight. Simply put, it’s just not a great idea to allow the Grizzlies defense to get set. CDR, I believe, can help this idea – he’s eager to get on the glass (9 REB last night) and can bring it up immediately.
  • I do believe the Bobcats can win this game tonight, but they’re going to have to help Jefferson out and knock down some outside shots. Gary Neal and Anthony Tolliver need to be big off the bench tonight and the second unit, in general, needs to give more support than they have recently. Time for Luke Ridnour to wake up – I understand very clearly that he’s not going to be able to get where he wants on the floor with the dribble at this point in his career, but the turnovers have to stop – just clear the ball, get the team into their sets, and, for goodness sakes, makes a hand-to-hand pass please. Okay, sorry, I had to get that rant out.
  • With a win tonight, the Bobcats would draw even with Brooklyn in the win column and 1 1/2 game back of the #6 spot in the east.
  • Prediction: 90-87 Grizzlies.

Charlotte Defeats Cleveland Behind An Offensive Show From Al Jefferson

Cleveland Cavaliers 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

101 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 38 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +6Hiding in the shadow of offensive powerhouse Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts had a solid overall performance in Charlotte’s victory over Cleveland. The 6’10 forward had a pretty solid performance on both ends. The 37% perimeter shooting threat was pretty solid from beyond the arc. In addition to his solid perimeter prowess, McRoberts secretly had a stellar 7 assists.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +6Could this game be the starting point of MKG becoming a solid mid-range threat? Probably not. But it was still great to see MKG nail a solid amount of mid-range jumpers which has been by far his biggest weakness since his rookie year. On the defensive end, Kidd-Gilchrist did a pretty solid job defending Cavs forward Luol Deng.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 12-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 28 PTS | +18Since being snubbed from February’s All-Star game, Big Al has been on an offensive tear. That amazing stretch continued as the depleted Cavs front-court wasn’t able to handle the offensive firepower. Throughout the game, Jefferson was able to work his way in the low-post and step back to hit some mid-range jumpers. One of the biggest flaws of Big Al’s performance against Cleveland was his work on the defensive end. The 6’10 center was extremely hesitant on the defensive end which helped lead to some pretty easy points for Cleveland in the first half. However, Jefferson was definitely focused in the closing minutes of the game as he had some key blocks and a steal that helped Charlotte seal the victory over the Cavs.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 9-9 FT | 3 REB | 14 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +12In one of his better overall performances of the season, Kemba Walker was an absolute force in multiple aspects of the offensive game. Kemba’s ability to find open shooters off simple penetrations. While his shooting stroke has been inconsistent, Walker has continued to be a solid distributor which has helped push Charlotte to their current position. Defensively, Kemba did a pretty good job in terms of defending Kyrie Irving who did the majority of his damage against Neal and Ridnour

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +12With Gerald Henderson on the mend, Chris Douglas-Roberts is having the opportunity to showcase his skills in a much bigger role. While he’s shown flashes of being an extremely solid NBA player, he definitely showcased his full arsenal in Charlotte’s victory. From his work from the perimeter to the defensive end. CDR was able to utilize his 6’7 frame to swipe two steals and be an effective but yet aggressive defender.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +6While Tolliver didn’t have the biggest stat line , he still filled in his role as a pretty solid reserve player. Tolliver was able to grab some offensive boards (even though he didn’t capitalize on those opportunities) while being an effective help defender. Tolliver wasn’t quite effective from beyond the arc but he was still able to help the Bobcats in other aspects of the game.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 16 MIN | 2-4 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -1The continued offensive improvement of Cody Zeller has been a slow process through his rookie season. As we move into the closing weeks of the 2013-14 campaign, it’s clear that Zeller is slowly improving because of the simple fact that he’s being more aggressive in terms of penetrating to the rim. Zeller has always been an athletic forward but he was extremely tentative during the first few months of the season.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5With Jefferson continuing to be spectacular, Biyombo’s opportunities are going to be limited. While he only played three minutes, Biyombo was still as effective as he can be.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 0 PTS | -3Everybody on this Charlotte team had an above-average to spectacular performance besides Ridnour. While he’s trying to work himself into the Bobcats rotation, the 6’2 vet was absolutely awful. He had absolutely no control over the offense, was two to three steps too slow on defense and had four turnovers in 13 minutes. Woof.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -6While my displeasure for Neal has clearly been apparent since his days in Milwaukee, I have to admit that he had a solid performance. Even though he wasn’t hitting his perimeter jumpers, Neal was still able be effective from the inside of the perimeter through a plethora of mid-range shots. With that said, Neal struggled on the defensive end because he couldn’t keep up with Kyrie Irving.

Two Things We Saw

  1. While the Bobcats had a pretty solid game, they weren’t able to have consistent momentum on Cleveland. Even though Cleveland is pretty solid competition for the Bobcats, Charlotte definitely played a better overall game than the Cavs.
  2. While Jefferson’s continued excellent performance has definitely been amazing the Bobcats are still struggling to find a consistent #2 and #3 offensive weapon. Kemba Walker has been pretty good but his inconsistency could be a concern as Charlotte moves closer to the playoffs.

Game #62: Bobcats vs Cavs Preview — links + thoughts

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Cleveland Cavaliers

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 28-33 99.6 (25) 101.5 (7) 95.2 (21)
Cleveland 24-38 99.9 (24) 104.9 (20) 95.5 (20)

Injuries:

Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Cleveland: C.J. Miles (DTD), Anderson Varejao (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Cavaliers
PG Kemba Walker Kyrie Irving
SG Chris Douglas-Roberts Jarrett Jack
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Luol Deng
PF Josh McRoberts Tristan Thompson
C Al Jefferson Spencer Hawes
6th Man Gary Neal Alonzo Gee
  • For starters, listen to Al Jefferson talk on ESPN radio late Wednesday night after the Bobcats beat Indiana. Arguably, Charlotte’s biggest win of the season. Jefferson talks about how the team has overachieved most people’s expectations this season and why he hopes he’s paving a way for another big time free-agent to come to Charlotte. Oh, he also talks about MJ as an owner. Exciting stuff.
  • Tonight, the Bobcats will have a fight on their hands. Jodie Valade, a Cavs beat writer explains why tonight + Cleveland’s games this weekend are must-wins. Reading this, I’ll go ahead and presume that this team is going to play with some grit tonight.
  • This is a huge game for both teams tonight. As Valade points out, Cleveland essentially needs it to keep Charlotte within sight, but if the Bobcats can find a way to get a result tonight they will have wrapped up the tie-breaker with the Cavs on the season.
  • Al Jefferson should wake up foaming at the mouth this morning – Spencer Hawes is likely going to start on him defensively, and if that isn’t as much of a mismatch that Big Al is going to see then I’m not sure what is. Hawes has never been very interested on the defensive end of the floor. The double-team is surely coming Jefferson’s way, but to an extent, the Cavs just really have to pray that he has an off night. I don’t really see a scenario where Jefferson doesn’t ‘get his’, so to speak, tonight.
  • Kemba vs. Kyrie is always fun, and expect to see much of the same tonight. Irving has been good in his past 5 — 25.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, 4.8 RPG, 49.5 FG%, 41.4 3FG%. Kemba hasn’t been as consistent, but he’s coming off an impressive 19 points + 9 assists performance against Indiana Wednesday night. The winner of this one-on-one matchup could very well tell us what team is ultimately successful tonight.
  • Charlotte and Cleveland are much more similar than they are different: from a efficiency standpoint offensively, these two teams are pretty close to identical. Which is to say not great. Both teams also play at a very similar, slow, pace. In most matchups, it benefits the Bobcats and Cavs to slow the game down every opportunity that they have. Not all, but most. Tonight will portray itself as a game that is played to the tempo/pace of the team that throws the first punch. I’d say that if the Bobcats can get out and play fast, do it every opportunity that you have.
  • A few things on the Cavs tonight: 1) trending up with their three-point shooting in the past 5 — 38.9% (+3.5) – being disciplined and staying attached to shooters will be important. Kemba will have to do a good job of keeping Kyrie in front on him and keep Irving settling for jump-shots – bringing extra defenders off-the-bounce is certainly one of Irving’s strengths, but Kemba is plenty quick of keeping him in front. 2) Cleveland hasn’t been getting to the foul line very often in the past 5 — 19.0 trips/game (-4.0). The Bobcats are one of the best teams in the league at guarding without fouling – 4th best (opponent’s take 19.9 FTA/game).
  • I thought Wednesday was a game that the Bobcats didn’t necessarily have to win, but they had to play well – they did. Tonight, Charlotte can’t afford a letdown. This is a must-win. It’s the time of the year where some teams will start trending in the right direction and build confidence leading into the playoffs – others will do the exact opposite. The toughest stretch of the schedule has passed and it’s time for this team to decide what they want to be.
  • Prediction: 96-88 Bobcats.

Charlotte Bobcats 109, Indiana Pacers 87: Smear No. 1

Indiana Pacers 87 FinalRecap | Box Score 109 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF 34 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +8

McRoberts came on strong in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 12 points and notching three offensive rebounds. Though he didn’t have a good shooting night, going 0-for-4 from three, his passing helped keep things moving. That included a sick behind-the-back dish to Anthony Tolliver for a easy bucket late in the game.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +21

Foul trouble limited his overall impact, but Kidd-Gilchrist’s energy was a big part of the team’s 28-8 advantage in the first quarter. The defense was there, too, as MKG and Tolliver combined to hold Paul George to a career-worst 0-for-9 shooting. Kidd-Gilchrist’s foul rate has been high all year, but it’s hard to get too upset about: very few are dumb fouls, and a full-speed 15-20 minutes from Michael is probably better than a careful 25-30.

Al Jefferson, C 36 MIN | 16-25 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 34 PTS | +30

Another stellar night from Al Jefferson. This season has reminded me a lot of Zach Randolph’s renaissance in Memphis; both have always been dominant scorers, but need a defensive scheme tailored to their limitations. Jefferson’s finally found one here.

Kemba Walker, PG 33 MIN | 7-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +37

Kemba’s stroke finally returned, and his passing was crisp, too. Kemba’s jump shot is usually the difference between a good game and a bad game, and he went 6-for-7 outside the paint tonight. Good game.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 29 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +26

Clifford gave CDR the start over Gary Neal tonight, and that moved paid off. Douglas-Roberts brought a nice energy, pushing the ball out on the break and hitting all of his (wide open) threes. His defense was solid, too, notching three steals.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -2

A Very Tolliver Box Score, as he didn’t contribute much aside from his three-point shooting. But three-point shooting is great!

Cody Zeller, C 20 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11

A really strong fourth quarter from Zeller (3-of-3, eight points) where he showed flashes of his potential. Especially nice was a steal and breakaway dunk that helped deflate the Pacers’ efforts to claw back in.

Bismack Biyombo, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5

Short minutes from Biyombo, as Clifford opted instead to play a Zeller/McRoberts frontcourt for a stretch in the fourth.

Luke Ridnour, PG 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -17

Ridnour hasn’t put up many counting stats in his time with the Bobcats, but he’s nice to have as a reliable ballhandler.

Gary Neal, SG 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -1

Neal’s long-range shooting continues to be far superior to his work inside the arc: through four games, he’s shooting 47 percent from downtown vs. 29 percent inside the arc. He definitely draws attention, though, and he’s eked out double-digit games in each of his appearances with Charlotte.

Game #61: Bobcats vs. Pacers 3-on-3 Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Indiana Pacers

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 27-33 99.3 (25) 101.6 (7) 95.3 (21)
Indiana 46-14 102.7 (18) 94.5 (1) 96.1 (16)

 

Injuries:
Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (DTD), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Indiana:

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Pacers
PG Kemba Walker George Hill
SG Gerald Henderson Lance Stephenson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Paul George
PF Josh McRoberts David West
C Al Jefferson Roy Hibbert
6th Man Gary Neal Evan Turner

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- The Bobcats last two opponents, although OKC & Miami, have scored 115+ points. Charlotte gets the east best, Indiana, tonight. The Pacers have won five of six and also put 100+ points in four of those games. What has to happen for the Bobcats to shore up things on the defensive end tonight against another league heavyweight?

Spencer: Getting back to playing as a unit defensively. Charlotte has been lit up on individual performances in the past few – Westbrook, Durant and Lebron. Tonight they’ll have to find a way to contain Paul George and it may come to bringing an extra defender for Clifford – not something he believes in doing, but elite individual offense beats elite individual defense just about every time in this league. Sometimes you have to be willing to adjust the scheme in respect of elite talent – it’s what Charlotte has elected not to do in the past two games vs. OKC and Miami.

Greg: I hope they got a good night’s rest. Charlotte actually started strong against the Heat on Monday, leading at the end of the first quarter and keeping things close at halftime, but they pretty clearly ran out of gas (and Lebron went supernova).

Tactically, it’s obviously a tough matchup. The Pacers are very good from mid-range, which puts them in good position to break some of the Bobcats’ defensive schemes. One area they do have a slight advantage is on free throws; the Pacers draw freebies at an average rate but do a very good job of converting them, while the Bobcats very rarely foul on defense. Taking away those free points will help, but the Bobcats still need a very strong offensive performance to compete.

Michael: The Bobcats need to lock down Indiana’s perimeter players. Jefferson and McRoberts will have their hands full with Hibbert and West, but if Charlotte wants to get a victory tonight they need to limit the offensive output of Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and Evan Turner.

Henderson and MK-G will have to put up a great effort on the defensive end, but if the can limit the Pacers’ point production, they should have a shot at a W.

2- Through three games, what’s your assessment of Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour? Pretty much what you thought, or will these two help/hurt the team in ways that were unforeseen prior to them stepping on the floor?

Spencer: Both have been what I expected up to this point.

Ridnour has been a little bit more careless with the ball than I expected through three games — 5 assists and 5 turnovers.

Neal gives the Bobcats rotation flexibility and spacing, as we all expected. He’s also a better ball-handler than most realized, I think, and does look to attack the rim knowing that teams have his shooting prowess scouted well. More versatile offensive player than advertised, probably.

Greg: About what I expected — Ridnour isn’t going to create much for you, but he’s been OK in limited minutes. He’s turned the ball over a little too much, but 40 minutes is too small of a sample to judge him on there.

Neal seems promising, especially if he can shore up his defense. He’s as good a shooter as advertised, but he’s also willing to put the ball on the floor and create. That hasn’t worked out as well, but he seems like he’ll be an aggressive offensive spark off the bench. Henderson’s defense, rebounding and size make him a better fit with the starting unit, but Neal at least gives them other options.

Michael: The Bobcats have gotten about what I expected out of their new acquisitions. Ridnour can provide some decent point play in small stretches, but his worth doesn’t go much further than that.

Gary Neal has been a little underwhelming so far, but he has shown signs of why the Bobcats wanted him. He spaces the floor and is a decent defender. Hopefully he gets slightly more accustomed to the team and his new role for the playoff push.

3- Two-part question: 1) Is this a must win for the Bobcats even though it’s against, technically, the best team in the NBA? 2) Who ya got?

Spencer: 1) I don’t quite believe it’s a must win, but from a psyche standpoint, I firmly believe that the Bobcats must play well tonight. Jefferson is doing all that he can through this tough stretch, but it’s time for Kemba to wake back up. This team hasn’t attained the success they have this season because they’re drastically inferior to the NBA’s best – tonight is an opportunity to open people’s eyes back up to that.

2) Indiana. They currently have the best record in the league and I do believe they’re the best team, with the most depth, on both ends of the floor.

Greg: 1. Not really. Despite the last three losses, they haven’t given up much ground in the playoff chase, and their schedule to close out the season is relatively easy. They should be able to bounce back. I think February’s four-game winning streak put people’s expectations out of whack; Charlotte’s barely sniffed .500 this year, and expecting them to beat both a top team and the schedule is a tall order. It’s OK if they drop this one.

2. The Pacers. They’re really good.

Michael: I wouldn’t say that this is a must-win for Charlotte, but it could certainly be seen as a statement game. The Bobcats aren’t necessarily expected to win, and a W could send a message to other teams in the East.

A loss wouldn’t be devastating, but three straight losses to the NBA’s top teams doesn’t generate a whole lot of fear or respect from the other awards they might be facing come playoff time.

Although I expect the Bobcats to keep it close, as they have been able to do, at least early on, in the end I expect the Pacers to pull it out. They just have too many offensive options and a dominant defense to match.