We're back -- and we're better than ever. Welcome back to the Bobcats Blog Squad, the official blog of bobcats.com where we provide you with some of the best Bobcats content you'll find anywhere on the web.
The Blog Squad is led by bobcats.com lead writer Matt Rochinski, but you'll also be hearing from players, coaches, broadcasters, fans and other various members from around the organization who will be stopping by from time to time to fill the fans in on what's happening over at 333 East Trade.
It's all part of our effort to give our fans a behind-the-scenes perspective of your team from various viewpoints in 2007-08. Keep checking back as we'll be posting new material on the Bobcats, the NBA and more. Want to chip in? Send your questions in to insider@BobcatsSE.com and we'll do our best to get you the answers you want.
Note: the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the Charlotte Bobcats organization or of the NBA
One Fan's Finals Predictions
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 5:32 p.m. 6/5/08
I hope that the Bobcats absence from the playoffs has not soured you on watching the postseason. There have been some exciting player matchups and games to watch, but only two teams remain at this point. The Finals will feature the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in a 2-3-2 game format beginning and, if necessary, ending in Boston. I won’t waste time talking about the renewed historic rivalry because you will probably hear or see things about it elsewhere. Plus, this is the home of the Bobcats. What do we care about other teams’ history? We want to have our own collection of trophies!
On to my prediction though. This Lakers team is good. When Kobe Bryant is in his zone and everyone else on the team seems to be hitting their threes and getting dunks, they are really hard to beat. This team’s strength is obviously offense, but their defense can be porous at times. This could be a problem because after all the saying is “defense wins championships.” The Celtics on the other hand, play great team defense but sometimes their offense sputters, especially if the big three are having an off night. I give the edge to the Celtics though. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have waited a long time to reach the NBA Finals and finally have a chance at a title. They all realize that this might be their only opportunity to get a ring, and I don’t see them wasting it. I expect all three of them to rise to the challenge on such a large stage, and Garnett to be as intense as ever. Sure Boston does not have a shutdown defender on their team to deal with Kobe, but if the Celtics can keep everyone else relatively in check then they should be ok. That task is easier said than done though. They will need to prevent L.A.’s long distance shooters – notably Derek Fisher, Vladimir Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic – from getting into a rhythm otherwise the spacing on the floor will benefit Kobe. On the other end of the floor, Allen needs to take advantage of his defender since Kobe and Gasol or Lamar Odom should be on Pierce and KG respectively. I believe Allen can and will do that. It will also be big for Boston to defend its home court in the first two games of the series. If they lose one of them and then can’t get a victory on the road then the series would end in Los Angeles. I don’t think that is going to happen though, and to be honest I hope it doesn’t, because I’m rooting for the Celtics despite the heart-breaking loss that they delivered early this season in Charlotte. Prediction: Celtics in seven.
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 3:59 p.m. 5/20/08
Tuesday night the NBA will conduct its annual lottery for the 14 teams who did not make the 2008 playoffs in order to determine which team picks when. The results will be televised on ESPN at approximately 8 p.m. and should give fans a better idea as to how the draft will pan out. Like last year, Charlotte sees itself in the eighth best spot to get the number one pick, and once again based on the lottery system the Bobcats will select first, second, third, eighth, ninth, 10th or 11th. This year’s pool of draft eligible players has a ton of one-year-and-done college players, but lacks the prize big man that last year’s draft had in Greg Oden, who I desperately wanted to pair down low with Emeka Okafor. I just can’t help but wonder how good that tandem would be. Given what did happen though – the Bobcats brilliant trade for Jason Richardson – I am led to another question.
If the Bobcats had won the lottery and drafted Oden, would the team be better off than the current roster that includes J-Rich? It’s hard to say. Richardson was awesome in his first season in Charlotte and addressed the need for a scorer who could help to finish off opponents down the stretch, but great big men are rare. Oden seems to have the potential to be great but after missing the entire season with microfracture surgery the questions is even more difficult to answer at this point. One thing that is more certain though is that this team still needs another post player, and in my opinion a true center. Emeka needs more help down low and the answer does not rest with Gerald Wallace playing power forward. With a young legit center on the team, Emeka could play the four position on offense and if necessary guard the other team’s center on defense. The problem is that I’m not a fan of this year’s crop of talent at the position and the reasons – including talent, work ethic, character and how I feel he would fit with the team – vary by player. I just haven’t found one guy that I really want to get yet. Maybe another trade will happen and the Bobcats won’t have another lottery player on the team. I certainly am not opposed to that. I felt this roster, if healthy, was good enough to make the playoffs and I still feel that way. Adding another lottery rookie leads to almost guaranteed court time to develop him (because of where he was drafted), and depending on the draftee’s position and talent, this could be a hindrance because he would take away someone else’s minutes. The Bobcats will already have to figure out how to work Adam Morrison and Sean May into the rotation.
This lottery could determine a lot so it will be interesting to see how things turn out. Who knows what will happen – we’ll just have to wait and see.
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 11:15 p.m. 5/14/08
With one of the most exciting events in NASCAR in Charlotte this week for the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday, Time Warner Cable Arena opened its doors Wednesday for the NASCAR Sprint Media Pit Crew Challenge.
A precursor to Thursday's NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena - where the real pros will showcase their skills - the folks at NASCAR invited members from local media outlets to compete in the pits.
With the Bobcats continuing focus to strengthen their relationship within the NASCAR community, they accepted an invitation to put a team together to compete against the likes of The Charlotte Observer, WSOC-TV, WBTV, FOX TV, SPEED TV, Sprint Vision, the Long Island Press, the UNCC Paper, BDI Racing Team and a team of local mascots including our very own Rufus.
I had the chance - along with my co-workers Tru Filyaw, Luke Pitcher and Stephen Reynolds - to take part in the NASCAR experience first-hand, as we combined to form the Bobcats Staff Team, and what an experience it was.
Considering we assembled our team just a few hours before the event, none of us really knew what to expect when we headed to the pits to compete against the 10 other teams participating in the event.
"When's the last time any of us even changed a tire?" Tru asked me on the way down.
"Actually, I just helped my sister-in-law change her flat tire this weekend," I laughed.
"Well, then you're the most experienced of any of us," he said.
I ended up putting gas in the car.
That's how it went for us - we didn't have a plan of any sort. Heck, Tru and Luke both competed wearing the dress pants they had worn to work. But make no mistake about it, we had a blast and held our own.
Luke took on the role of jackman, while Stephen was the front-tire changer, Tru the rear-tire changer and myself as the gasman. Things didn't look good early for our Bobcats team as none of us finished higher than fourth (Stephen) in our individual competitions. But once the team competition got rolling, we started putting things together.
We advance to the semifinals after a qualifying round in which we found out just how difficult the challenge was going to be. You might not think pushing a NASCAR 40 yards after filling it with gas, jacking it up or changing tires would be that difficult, but you'd be wrong. As evidenced by the wind we were sucking after our 26.535-second performance in the qualifying round, we knew we were in store for a long afternoon.
But with the hometown crowd - also known as our co-workers, who were tremendous in their support - we continued to advance through the semi-finals and into the championship round. How'd we do it? By being efficient. By no means were we the best team out there, but we didn't make mistakes and never picked up any penalty points through the first two rounds.
With a new-found respect for what these guys must go through in the pits over the course of a race, we entered the championship round against the BDI Racing Team feeling like we were each competing with four tires pressing on our chests but were determined to take home the title.
Instead we got smoked in the championship round, falling by a mark of 29.100 seconds to BDI's 27.094 seconds. We also picked up our first five-second penalty of the day when Luke misjudged his placement at his station and really jacked up the car, so to speak. But we didn't care. As Tru pointed out, "We took second place to a team with racing in their team name." Not a bad performance overall for the team with the home court advantage.
In all, it was a great experience for all of us here with the Bobcats in an exhausting and exhilarating afternoon.
I just hope the four of us are going to be able to walk normal tomorrow.
-- Bobcats Play-by-Play Announcer Steve Martin | 11:39 a.m. 5/14/08
I kid people when I tell them my playoff projections at the All-Star break. I tell them to write down the number that I predict will be the number of wins the Bobcats get, and the number of wins it takes to land eighth place and a playoff berth.
Now that the season is over, it’s time to come clean as to how close we came with our playoff formula blogs of February 6 and March 11.
1. Set a target of 35 wins
Obviously the Bobcats fell three short here and the number was two short of what Atlanta did to claim the eighth spot. If that falls comfortably into your margin of error, then fine. Atlanta and Indiana had easier schedules after the All-Star break and that moved the number up. Indiana almost replaced Atlanta in the 8th spot, but the Bobcats removed them from contention with a win at Conseco on April 12. To follow the formula to get to 35, the Bobcats would have had to go 17-17 over the last 34, instead they went 14-20.
2. Win at least five games against the teams ahead of you to 7th place
The Bobcats won four against the teams ahead of them to 7th place (4-3). No game was more damaging to the cause than the February 8th loss to New Jersey. It was a home game and it would have brought the Bobcats within one game of 8th place at the time. A win in that game helps the Bobcats take a tiebreaker with a game remaining with the Nets. They would go on to lose that one, too.
3. Win all seven remaining home games against losing teams
The Bobcats fell two games short here (5-2). Again, New Jersey is one of the culprits on February 8. Sacramento was another killer on February 22. That game also took Gerald Wallace out of the lineup for seven games at the zenith of his season. Wallace would pass 20 points only three times in 12 games after his return. Wallace was forced to park it for the season April 5 with a groin pull.
4. Win at least seven more road games overall
From February 4th to the end of the Bobcats season, Charlotte went a modest 7-15 on the road, so we weren’t asking for much. But we didn’t get much out of a category that could have been good for the Bobcats. Losses to Memphis, Indiana, and twice to New York were cripplers and held the Bobcats from over-achieving.
5. Win at least five road games against losing teams
The Bobcats stumbled to 2-4 in this group for reasons spelled out in #4.
6. Dominate your home court
7-6 at home after February 4th is not what one would call domination, but it was one better than going 14-14 over your 1st 28 home games.
What did the Bobcats do right?
They actually performed better than the projections of both February 6 (29) and March 11 (30) with 32 wins. Taking three of four on the final West Coast road trip was one of the season’s high points.
Raymond Felton proved he can be an NBA point guard with the second highest average in assists among the East. Raymond will be constantly compared to the two point guards chosen ahead of him in the 2005 Draft. It’s a definite that he doesn’t shoot as well as Deron Williams and Chris Paul, but he reduced the differences he has with those two players in other areas important to the position.
Jason Richardson proved to be the real deal and justified the Bobcats not bringing another rookie into the mix.
Matt Carroll, Jared Dudley and Emeka Okafor all proved that when their roles are clarified, they can deliver on a consistent basis.
Given that the Bobcats had to adjust to a new coach and to reduced depth with the loss of Adam Morrison and Sean May, 32 wins was not as bad as it seemed. But with a weakened playoff field in the East that saw two of the eigt enter with losing records, one can’t escape the feeling of an opportunity lost in Bobcats season number four.
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 11:29 a.m. 3/31/08
The Bobcats are making things interesting again. After beating Miami in Charlotte, the team embarked on a difficult four-games-in-five-nights trip. Regardless of which teams are played, you have to remember that every team in the league is talented enough to beat you on any given night. And that becomes even more of a possibility if you have to play in someone else’s arena and you only have a day’s rest between two sets of back-to-back games. The Bobcats had to face the Jazz, Lakers, Sonics and Trail Blazers, and despite the difficulties of the trip which I just mentioned and their weak road record, they managed to win three games (see my thoughts on those below). If the Bobcats had not fallen behind by so many against the Jazz early in the contest, maybe they would be on another five-game winning streak since they were able to cut the lead to three before fading late. Regardless, four wins in five games (including a record three consecutive road victories) isn’t bad and if the wins continue to come – starting with Toronto at home – and other teams lose, the city of Charlotte could have a playoff team this season.
At Los Angeles Lakers
Despite the physical game and being on the road, the Bobcats were able to get a very impressive win after losing the night before in Utah and expending a lot of energy in trying to pull off a comeback win. The Bobcats chose to not let the previous game get to them and played with a great deal of effort and hustle against the Lakers who were 49-22 at the time. Even when the momentum seemed to favor the Lakers, the Bobcats did a great job of answering right back with key plays by a number of players.
At Seattle Sonics
At Portland Trail Blazers
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 3:09 p.m. 3/12/08
The Bobcats were on the verge of making history again on Saturday night as they tried for a record fifth-straight win and they delivered. The team also scored at least 100 points for the sixth-straight game. The Bobcats are averaging 109 points a game during the win streak, which is much stronger than their current 96.3 season average. While this team has a lot of talent, it is still impressive that they have put up the scores that they have without their top scorer in Gerald Wallace available. Not many teams could pull off such a feat. The reason that the Bobcats are doing it is because they have had balanced contributions.
Four players were in double figures against the Wizards and Emeka Okafor was close with nine. Jason Richardson led the way with a sick 34-point performance making 13-20 shots (5-of-9 from 3) and Matt Carroll was great too with 23 points as he hit 6-of-9 3-point attempts. In the previous games against Toronto, Golden State and Atlanta, five players had at least 10 points and against Minnesota six players reached double digits. As far as double-doubles are concerned, the team had a trend of two players reaching that mark in each win. Raymond Felton was the only player to achieve this against Washington though with 14 points and 12 assists; however, Emeka was close with nine points and nine boards. Over the recent streak, Emeka has four double-doubles (averaging 15.4 points and 12.4 rebounds) while Raymond (averaging 18 points and 9.4 assists) has three and Jared Dudley (averaging 10.8 points and 9.0 rebounds) has two.
Another important note to make is that the Bobcats have shown resiliency. They have had to overcome slow starts, double digit deficits, and most recently a shooting slump in the fourth quarter, and yet they have managed to do it almost with ease. They’ve won by an average of almost 12. Unlike when this team was first assembled a few years ago, the Bobcats have not had trouble closing games. In the final period against Atlanta, Carroll scored eight (including two threes) and Earl Boykins had a hand in 14 points either by scoring himself or getting an assist while Felton did the same in 12.
In Washington, things did not go as well, but the final result was the same. The Bobcats shot 2-of-15 from the field and allowed the home team to get back into the game. Earlier in the season this might have signaled an inevitable meltdown, but the Bobcats – one of the league’s worst free throw shooting teams – were clutch, making 16-of-21 from the line to preserve and keep their lead. J-Rich’s two foul shots with nine seconds left to put the team up three were huge. I say that because he hasn’t been a strong free throw shooter, especially for a guard, with a career average of 69.1 percent prior to this season. When he first appeared as a Bobcat, his shooting from the line didn’t appear as if it was going to improve much, but it dramatically has over the course of the season. He’s now almost automatic from the line. J-Rich shot 58.1 percent back in December and is currently shooting 88.0 percent for the month of March contributing to a season average of 74.3 percent.
It’s a good thing that many of the players are in their best groove of the season because the schedule now gets tough. Nine of the next 10 games are on the road. The only break from a series of plane flights and hotels will come with a return to Bobcats Arena on Saturday, March 22 to face Miami. Obviously if the Bobcats want to make the playoffs, then winning on the road is a must and other teams need to lose. Currently the team is two games back of Atlanta (which took the spot from New Jersey Monday night) for the eighth playoff spot, with the Nets, Bulls and Pacers in between. As of late Tuesday, Philadelphia and Atlanta had lost their last games, New Jersey had lost six in a row, Milwaukee had dropped three straight, and Indiana had also lost three in a row until they beat Seattle. In addition, Atlanta’s next game is against Houston, which has a winning streak of 19 games, so the Hawks could easily lose again, and Milwaukee’s losing streak is great since they hold the tiebreaker over the Bobcats. All of these details are irrelevant though if the Bobcats don’t win often enough.
The new-look Dallas Mavericks (41-23) are up next and they will be a tough opponent. Dirk Nowitzki presents a match-up problem almost any time he steps on the floor and the Mavs also have a new floor general to help him in Jason Kidd. I understand why Dallas made the move, but honestly I can’t say I would have done the same. Kidd is a great point guard and has something left in the tank; however, I don’t think the trade makes them good enough to win it all now and they have partially mortgaged their future by giving up Devin Harris. Kidd will make beating the Mavs more difficult though, and I hope that whatever Wallace can offer will be a big enough extra boost to help get another big win.
I’ve read people say that this team isn’t going to the playoffs and needs to play for next season. I’ve never believed that to be the case, and if the guys continue to play focused team basketball, they are going to prove a lot of people wrong.
Here’s to making more history. Go Bobcats!
-- Bobcats TV Play-by-Play Announcer Steve Martin | 12:00 p.m. 3/11/08
On February 5th, I blogged on the playoff formula for the Bobcats. Revisiting my blog I find that the Bobcats are fairly close to the mark. But huge work stands in their way and some of it will be against teams that are gunning for a playoff spot in the wild Western Conference.
Here’s a look at how the plan rolled out in it’s original form:
1. Set a target of 35 wins.
Since I wrote this on February 10, the Bobcats (18-31 at the time) are now 24-39. The 6-8 mark means they will have to 11-8 over their remaining 19 games. Two things scare me about this. 1) Of the 19 remaining games, 13 are on the road where the Bobcats have a 6-22 record. Seven of those road games will be against teams with winning records. How valid is the target of 35? That depends on what the teams between the Bobcats and 7th place do between now and then. Based on past success (or failure), Atlanta is currently the 8th place team, whether they want to be or not. Their remaining schedule has some wins built in and they project to 35 wins overall. The Bobcats have split the season series with the Hawks. That makes conference record the second tiebreaker. Both teams have 15 wins, but the Hawks have played 6 fewer games against the East. So maybe we’ve got to look a little higher at 36 or 37 just to be safe.
2. Win at least five games against the teams ahead of you to 7th place.
In the last 30 days, the Bobcats are 2-1 against this group, both wins against Atlanta, the loss to New Jersey. They have four games remaining against this group. If you have to pick three games that you must win, then make them the two against Indiana, and the last road game of the season at New Jersey. Win just once against Indiana and you get the tiebreaker. Take the Nets out on the road and split the season series.
3. Win all seven remaining home games against losing teams.
This horse has left the barn, because of Bobcats losses to New Jersey and Sacramento.
But you still have Miami, Minnesota and Philadelphia coming in, so take all three. The one kink in this plan is that Philadelphia may turn into a winning team by the time they get here. The Sixers have been out-performing mid season projections.
4. Win at least 7 more road games.
Big thanks to the five-game win streak for getting the Bobcats back on target here. The wins at Minnesota and Washington mean you can realistically target games at Memphis, twice at Indiana, Seattle, New York and New Jersey as potential wins. Plus, the last time the Bobcats played at Cleveland, they lost in overtime. Some teams you just seem to match up against, the Cavaliers seem to be one of those teams.
5. Win 5 road games against losing teams.
Again, wins against Washington and Minnesota gets the Bobcats within three of the goal here.
6. Dominate your home court.
If the Bobcats don’t make the playoffs, they can look back at the first 28 home games and look at a 14-14 record as the reason they are staying home. With so many road games back-loaded on the second half of the schedule…you have to be better than .500 at home. Since February 10th, the Bobcats have taken a step in the right direction at 4-3 in their 7 home games. Going 5-1 against the remaining field at home would make up for the 2 games lost against the plan in point #3.
Right now, the Bobcats project out to a 30-52 record. Given how they played in their recent five-game winning streak, the Bobcats are poised to do something extraordinary to make the numbers go north of 35 wins. Take a look at some key games remaining to see if the Bobcats make it:
March 14 at Houston
The Bobcats lost by three at home in November against the Rockets WITH Yao Ming. They were leading the Rockets by 10, but didn’t execute at the end.
March 16 at Cleveland
As I said, when the Bobcats last visited the Cavs on January 11th, they lost in double overtime, despite 31 from LeBron James.
March 25 at Utah
The Bobcats beat Utah 98-92 on December 19th. Deron Williams scored 20 points and Carlos Boozer scored 21, but the Jazz are a lot better now and can spread the floor with sharpshooter Kyle Korver.
March 26 at Los Angeles Lakers
Say you lose in Utah, you can say you were looking ahead to another showdown with Kobe and company. This would really be improbable if Andrew Bynum has returned to the Lakers by late March. I feel the Lakers are going to win the West.
April 2 Cleveland
The Cavs have lost the last 3 times in Charlotte….let’s make it four.
April 5 Boston
The Bobcats should be 2-1 in this series. They are just a turnover away from being there. A healthy Gerald Wallace, paired with JRich gives the Celtics fits on the wings. Circle this date.
Let’s see what happens and hopefully on April 10th the Bobcats are making teams 7, 8 and 9 nervous with three games to go.
-- Bobcats Fan Gaither Jones | 10:20 a.m. 3/7/08
I originally wrote this blog in chronological order, but the Bobcats big win over Golden State forced me to rearrange my thoughts. As a fan you have to love the resurgence that the Bobcats have shown in reeling off three straight wins. We’re moving the ball fluidly and taking better shots, and a lot of that has to do with Raymond Felton’s ability to run the point. Having Jeff McInnis to aid Felton in the process of becoming a better player was a nice thing to have earlier on, but I supported the decision to waive him. While it was surprising, I think the team will benefit from his absence because it lets Felton loose. (He had 22 points and six assists against Golden State). Giving him the sole responsibility of being this team’s point guard will allow him to figure things out, work through his mistakes and prove what he is capable of. McInnis’s departure also creates a void in minutes that other guys can fill.
Matt Carroll has stepped in very nicely and seems to have his swagger back. He knows he is going to get a significant amount of playing time and doesn’t have to worry about getting benched if he misses his first couple of shots. As a shooter, that allows you to relax which usually brings good results. Against the Warriors, Carroll cooled off, but I’ll live with 2-10 shooting for nine points because he collected 11 rebounds and had four steals.
Emeka Okafor shot poorly from the field too, making only 3-13 shots, but was an acceptable 10-18 from the line while also grabbing 11 boards and contributing three blocks. Jared Dudley, who hardly looks like a rookie of late, came off the bench to score 10 points. More importantly though he was able to grab 18 rebounds – including securing seven on the offensive end. Dudley has definitely taken full advantage of the minutes he is getting off of the bench since McInnis left and Carroll stepping in as a starter. He takes pride in doing the little things and being a glue guy, which only helps this team.
Earl Boykins had his best game as a Bobcat scoring an efficient 12 points in 19 minutes on 5-7 shooting. All of these solid performances allowed Jason Richardson’s season-high of 42 points to propel the team to another win. J-Rich mentioned payback was in-store for the Warriors in his post-game interview with Stephanie Ready after beating Minnesota, and he certainly delivered. I was just hoping that being at home would allow him to relax and apparently it did. I wish he had gotten to 50, but I’m impressed by the performance and win nonetheless. Any time you are able to beat a team by 20 on the road, fly back home after the game and complete back-to-back wins by outscoring a team that tries to run you out of the gym 118-109, I’m not going to complain.
I haven’t given up on the idea of making the playoffs this season. Guys are playing great which is translating into wins despite Gerald Wallace being sidelined and the playoffs are still in reach so I’m excited about Friday’s game at home versus Atlanta. Go Bobcats!
-- Bobcats Fan Gaither Jones | 9:53 a.m. 2/14/08
It has been a while since I last wrote, but I’m happy to be back as a part of the new and improved bobcats.com. Here are some of my thoughts on the season thus far.
Unfortunately, the team has been plagued with unlucky injuries since its inception. Losing Sean May and Adam Morrison really hurt. I was looking forward to what these guys were going to contribute and do on the floor this season. I wish them a speedy recovery and hope that next season they will be able to come back, establish themselves and mesh well with the rest of the team.
It was cool to be the first team to host ESPN All-Access. Charlotte doesn’t get a ton of national publicity so this coverage was good a thing – especially for Bobcats fans across the country who can’t see them play. Local fans benefited too though as ESPN helped to provide an inside look into this franchise that most don’t see.
Nazr Mohammed Trade
I found out about the trade of Walter Herrmann and Primoz Brezec for Nazr Mohammed just as I was waking up from an unplanned nap so my first response was “Whoa!, What?!?” I have to say at first I wasn’t happy about losing Herrmann because he really impressed me over the final 20 games of last year. However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked this trade. When you have an asset in Herrmann that you aren’t using, you have to use it if it can help you to fill a need. That’s exactly what this deal did.
Herrmann probably was not going to fit into future plans because the playing time was never going to consistently be there. This team already has enough wing players in Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll (all locked up with long-term contracts), Jared Dudley and Adam Morrison, who is sure to get playing time when he returns next season. That doesn’t leave room for Herrmann. If he didn’t get traded and had continued to remain on the bench, he probably would have left Charlotte in free agency this upcoming summer anyways in search of an opportunity to play. Unlike Herrmann, Mohammad does fit in to long-term plans. He has the ability to score and rebound – more effectively than Brezec – which is something this team really needs. Emeka Okafor can’t do it all, and I hope Nazr will be a consistent presence along with Emeka down in the post this season and beyond.
Bobcats vs. Milwaukee 12/22/07
In a 103-99 road loss, J-Rich had his first 30-point game of the season shooting 11-19 from the field, including 5-9 from three. Since that night, he is averaging 23.2 points.
Bobcats vs. Memphis 1/19/07
Not only did the Bobcats win by 18, but Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace filled up the box score like no other duo that I have seen in a while. Sure there are quite a few combos in the NBA that are capable of big scoring, but it is not too often that they impress throughout the stat sheet. Against Memphis, Richardson and Wallace did. Just to remind you J-Rich had 38 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He shot 16-25 from the field meaning that he could have missed his next seven shots and still shot 50 percent for the game. G-Force put up 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists, seven steals and one block. He also shot above 50 percent making 12 of his 23 attempts.
It bothers me that Gerald Wallace (21.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 steals, and one block per game) and some other notable players were left off of the NBA All-Star rosters. Every year there are going to be players having great seasons that will not make the cut; however, I think this year the rosters made more mistakes than usual. All-Star weekend is supposed to be showcasing the league’s top individuals, but most of the reserves just ended up being the best players on the best teams. This means that players having a great season, like Wallace, often get left out in favor of players having just a good season on one of the better teams. Basically guys get punished for the lack of their team’s success, which is unfair when a selection to the All-Star game is supposed to be about the individual.
I have been wondering since this past summer why Earl Boykins was still a free agent. He isn’t a superb shooter, but his scoring ability and energy are assets almost any NBA team can utilize especially if he is coming off of the bench because he provides a boost when he enters the game. He had a six-game span last season while playing for Denver of 29, 25, 28, 24, 26 and 20 points, and he only started one of those. Boykins can score in spurts and despite his size at 5-5 and 133 pounds he has the ability to take contact and score. And if he should get fouled in the act of shooting, he is almost automatic from the free-throw line with a career average of 88.1 percent. Even though I first think of Boykins as a scorer, he can distribute the ball too. His career average of 4.4 assists isn’t bad considering he usually has been played as reserve.
Not that you would question whether the Bobcats are still trying to make the playoffs – this team could never be accused of tanking – but the signing of Boykins illustrates a commitment to win now. This team is not in a position to welcome being in the NBA Draft lottery again. Assuming they are healthy, Adam Morrison and Sean May will have to be included in next year’s rotation leaving even less time available to develop another rookie.
It was great to get an overtime win over Atlanta heading into the break especially considering that Gerald was out again and many of the other guys are pretty banged up. You’ve also got to love Emeka having another 20-20 game.
Enjoy All-Star weekend and hope that everyone will come back healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season.
-- Bobcats TV Play-by-Play Announcer Steve Martin | 10:16 a.m. 2/6/08
Crazy as it seems, the Charlotte Bobcats are:
1) still alive in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and
2) still control a decent amount of their own destiny in that regard.
At 18-31, the Bobcats are part of a pack of seven teams that are currently dicing behind the East’s six +.500 teams in pursuit of the last two spots in the playoff field. On February 5th the Bobcats stood three games out of 8th place in the East. Charlotte has 33 games remaining in the season. Twenty of those games will be on the road with 13 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
How can the Bobcats roll from 13th to 8th or better in the East? There’s a formula that I think this team can execute. Then they have to take their chances that injuries don’t grab this opportunity from them.
1. Establish a target.
By target, we mean an estimate of what it will take to make the playoffs. Last season 40 wins carried the 8th place team (Orlando) into the field and with only six teams playing .500 or better ball at this time, you might be able to lower the bar to match the field. Thirty-five wins is a figure I think the Bobcats should have in mind. Why 35? Take New Jersey in 8th place currently. They currently are winning just over 42% of the time. If that is the case for the remainder of the season, the Nets project to 34 wins, thus, let’s do them one better. It means going 17-16 the rest of the way.
2. Take five of the seven games that remain between you and the teams ahead of you- up to Atlanta in 7th place.
The Bobcats are done with Milwaukee and Chicago for the season, losing the series to both. You must make sure you aren’t caught in a tie with either when the season ends. Milwaukee projects to 31 wins, while Chicago is on track to win 33. Avoid those numbers, if at all possible. So the focus shifts to the two games remaining with Atlanta (both home), two with New Jersey (1 home, 1 away), two with Indiana (both away) and one game left with Philadelphia (home). The Sixers have the Bobcats in the season series, but Charlotte needs every Sixers loss possible, so why not inflict one in the season finale. The Hawks, Nets and Pacers present inviting targets. The Bobcats can still take tiebreakers from the Nets and Pacers and a sweep of their remaining games with Atlanta salvages a split in the season series.
3. Win all seven remaining games at home against teams that have losing records.
This group includes Atlanta twice, New Jersey, Sacramento, Miami, Minnesota and Philadelphia. It just is not acceptable to let a loser come into your hall and sneak out with a win. The Bobcats are 12-12 against teams under .500. This record must improve, it’s your only way to climb.
4. Win at least five road games against losing teams.
There are eight games of this ilk remaining on the schedule. It means taking care of business when you play at New York twice, New Jersey once, Indiana twice, Memphis, Minnesota and Seattle each once. Assuming you cash out the losers at home as described in formula point #3, wins against New Jersey and Indiana carry added importance in this category because they give you the tiebreaker against both. If you beat the Knicks just once, you might be able to secure your backside in case the Knicks go on a tear. (They were 3 ˝ games behind the Bobcats as of Feb 5.)
5. Win at least seven more road games overall.
This represents at least a 10% improvement over what the Bobcats have done in the first half of the season. It means taking a win against at least two teams with winning records at home. The Bobcats have already beaten the Celtics once and scared the living bejeebers out of the Cavs before bowing in double overtime. Others you might take a shot at: Houston (who escaped in overtime in Charlotte in November) and Washington (the Bobcats have two shots at the Wizards).
6. Dominate your home court.
You only have 13 games remaining at home. The Bobcats split their first 28 home games at 14-14. That won’t cut it if the playoffs are the goal. If the Bobcats execute formula point #3, they would have seven wins right off the bat. Your remaining six are against winners including Boston, Golden State, Toronto (twice), and the Lakers. Pick off at least two from this group and you go 9-4 at home to finish the season.
Here’s the final math:
#1 Final target is 35.
#2 You win 5 and lose 2.
#3 Add 3 wins here.
#4 Add 5.
#5 Add 2.
#6 Add 2.
Current Record is 18-31, add up #2 thru #6 and you get 17. There’s your 35.
There are always caveats to any plan and this one is full of them. The prospect of injuries looms over everyone. There is also the possibility of teams dramatically improving their performance over the final 35 games of the season. The team that readily comes to mind is the New Jersey Nets. I don’t believe that they will be able to deal Jason Kidd before the trade deadline. This is a veteran team that will have something to prove, if only it is Kidd’s desire to bolster his own trade value so that he gets moved in the off-season to wherever. The Nets historically have been a team that really turns it up after the All Star break. They won 42 games in 2004-2005 when they took the halfway turn at 11 games under .500.
For the moment, keep your eye on the prize of 35. It could mean a playoff spot. It definitely represents more wins than season number three (33) and that is something to build on, given the fact that you lost two players (Sean May and Adam Morrison) before the season ever got underway.
Felton, McInnis and Anderson Set To Return
-- bobcats.com writer Malinda Murray | 2:45 p.m. 1/14/08
“All those guys were on the floor today and will be active tonight,” said Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent. “It’s definitely some relief, having the extra bodies. We’ve been playing well and we don’t want to lose any of the momentum we’ve gained over the last four or five games with that consistent group. I’m happy it’s not an extended amount of time that they’re out.”
“I’m alright. I’m sore, but I’m playing,” said McInnis, who missed Saturday’s game with a right quad strain. “It’s definitely better. I got treatment yesterday and then came last night about 11 (p.m.), shot around and tried to run.”
After missing Saturday’s game with a right ankle sprain, Felton is also ready to get back on the floor.
“I’ll be ready tonight,” he said. “I’m going to get out there and hoop. I’ve played with pain, so I’m 100 percent. I’m ready.”
Even without a point guard, the Bobcats put up a fight against Detroit, taking the Pistons to overtime. Felton was impressed with the way team his team stepped up to the challenge.
“I wish I was in there last game but I wasn’t,” he said. “Those guys did a great job. J-Rich (Jason Richardson) and Gerald (Wallace) did a great job getting those guys into the offense and running the team and bringing the ball down the court. We should have won the game, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. I think they played the point extremely well.”
With wins over New Jersey and Boston and close losses in overtime to Cleveland and Detroit last week, the Bobcats have put together some of their best performances of the season.
“I think we’re playing our best ball,” said Felton. “We’re playing hard, we’re working hard. We just have to continue to play the way we’re playing we’re going to be fine.”
“We’re playing tough basketball right now and we’re competing against playoff-caliber teams,” said Vincent. “We’re right there. If we can turn the corner one more time and start winning these games, there’s no telling where we can go.”
Fans Given An Exclusive Look
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 11:10 p.m. 12/14/07
One thing that has always been clear to me since coming to Charlotte some three years ago is that the Charlotte Bobcats are always looking to improve by showing off the city of Charlotte and working as an organization to take things to that next level and, with my apologies to Captain Kirk, go where no other teams have gone before.
So when ESPN was looking to hold its first-ever, all-access, behind-the-scenes – could I possibly use any more hyphens – look at an NBA game day that would bring NBA fans further inside the game and the preparation that goes into it than ever before, Charlotte was the ideal choice.
“It’s been a priority for (the Bobcats) and a priority for (ESPN) to try and give the fans a chance to see what really goes on,” said ESPN Coordinating Producer Bruce Bernstein. “It’s one thing to watch a game, but I think people are really fascinated with what goes on in the arena – the guys shooting around in the morning, stuff like this. It’s been a great opportunity and everyone has embraced it from the league on down.”
With the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” in town, bobcats.com couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tag along and go behind-the-scenes of their behind-the-scenes look at our town and our team.
Things actually got ramped up on Thursday, when rookie Jared Dudley took the folks at ESPN on a rather interesting tour of the arena.
If you’re not convinced after watching this that Dudley wasn’t born to be in front of the camera – actually, let’s get our priorities in line here and say, first play basketball and then, be in front of the camera – then you’re sorely mistaken. There are few athletes as comfortable as Dudley when they’re hamming it up for a national television audience.
Thursday also consisted of a behind-the-scenes look at Adam Morrison’s rehab. The third pick of the 2006 NBA Draft is slowly making progress since tearing his left ACL and is dedicated to coming back strong in 2007-08. Watch how Morrison's rehab is going now.
Things got going early on Friday, with Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent appearing on Mike & Mike in the Morning at approximately 8:25 a.m., but that doesn’t mean Vincent had just arrived at the arena.
“Game days are very busy. We usually start the day about 7:30 a.m.,” he said. “Some of the things that we did off-camera before you guys got here were – we reviewed film and that led us into our coaches’ meeting. In our coaches’ meeting, obviously we talked about our strategy for the game. Then we get to our shootaround where we get through a lot of our preparation - we walk through our coverages and how offensively we are going to put things on the floor.
And in case you were in bed, or in a meeting like myself, and you missed the morning interview, you can listen to it here.
From there, it was on to shootaround – which is normally closed to all members of the media – for a live looking on ESPN First Take with Matt Winer, Stephen A. Smith and Jalen Rose.
To their credit, the Bobcats and Vincent seemed relatively unfazed by the numerous cameras littering the arena filming shootaround for the first time ever, and instead turned their attention towards the Magic. I sat through the entire shootaround and can honestly say I didn’t catch one stray glance for more than a second or two by a Bobcats player to ESPN’s setup. They were focused on Orlando.
Check out the video from shootaround here.
ESPN’s inside look didn’t end there either.
Following shootaround, Gerald Wallace took time to talk with Rachel Nichols about his game-day routine, did an interview with Hubie Brown and talk about the Bobcats in another interview.
After his interview, Johnson talked about the importance of what the Bobcats were doing with ESPN on this day.
“For us and for ESPN, it’s an innovative way to give the fans greater access to the Bobcats experience – the players behind the scenes, the players before the game, the players during halftime,” he said. “It’s really a way to better engage the fans viewing the game on television, even in ways that the fans in the arena might not be able to see. I think that kind of inside access creates a direct emotional connect with the players and the experience of the team. It’s a great plus for basketball fans.”
Fans were also treated to a surprise interview, as Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan also sat down with Nichols prior to the game for a brief interview you can watch here.
ESPN’s inside access then continued into the game, as Vincent, Bobcats guard Jeff McInnis, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and Orlando guard Jameer Nelson were all miked up for the night. There was also an inside look into the Bobcats locker room at halftime.
“We wanted to be shown off on national television because we think we have a great organization and a terrific state-of-the-art arena,” Johnson said. “That’s certainly a plus. It’s great for the City of Charlotte that the Bobcats are showcased nationally. It’s great for the spirit of the fans and the team.”
ESPN Going Behind The Scenes
-- bobcats.com writer Malinda Murray | 2:15 p.m. 12/13/07
A day after rallying from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers, the Bobcats were back at work Thursday morning getting ready for their Friday night matchup against the Orlando Magic. In addition to preparing to face the Magic, the Bobcats were also gearing up for their first appearance this season on national television. ESPN will broadcast the game at 8 p.m., and the game will also be the first all-access game televised by ESPN this season.
As part of the all-access, Bobcats players, coaches and front office personnel will be featured on ESPN Radio and television shows throughout the day. In addition, fans will be treated to unprecedented behind-the-scenes access. Players and coaches will wear microphones to give fans a sense of being part of the action. ESPN all-access will also give fans a look at what happens in the locker room and behind-the-scenes at the arena.
Bobcats rookie Jared Dudley got into the act and had some fun as he gave the ESPN camera crew an exclusive tour of Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
“I took them to Backcourt, the locker room and The Team Store. We wanted to have some fun, so we did a (Michael) Jordan spin off and went to his office,” he laughed. “We went to the media room and I tried to be a reporter and interview Gerald Wallace when he wasn’t even there. There’s only so much you can do when you’re by yourself, so you try to make it as entertaining as possible.”
The Bobcats are looking forward to the game because the all-access will allow fans to gain a new perspective on the players.
“We’re people just like everybody else,” remarked Dudley. “We laugh, we joke and it shows our personalities a little.”
“It’s a good thing because it provides more access to the fans and gives them an opportunity to get a more close-up feel for the players and what they do,” said Head Coach Sam Vincent. “They’ve done studies based on the other sports and it’s been successful. It’s created unique connections with the fans and they appreciate it.”
The Bobcats also realize that this game is an important part of helping the business grow.
“I am excited because it’s good for our brand and good for our business,” said Vincent. “We all want the business to thrive and do well.”
“I think it’s big because we are trying to get a name for the Bobcats, trying to get an identity,” added Dudley. “We’re not shown that much on TV. It’s good for people like Emeka and Gerald – people who are trying to become emerging stars. I think it’s important to have that and to win, to show the Bobcats are for real, defeating the Orlando Magic. It would look good.”
But even with the all-access, the Bobcats will not change how they prepare and interact during the game.
“I don’t want to put anything in their minds to think about,” said Vincent. “It’s going to be as natural as it always is. The players need to go out and do what they do and the coaches need to go out and do what they do.”
Wallace Hoping To Play In Miami
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 3:23 p.m. 11/26/07
Nothing surprises me when it comes to Gerald Wallace.
After straining his right calf on Friday in Orlando, forcing him to miss all but the first quarter of action, Wallace was fully intent on giving it a go Saturday against Boston. But as the starting lineups were being introduced, Wallace informed his coaches and training staff he would not be able to play against the Celtics.
“It was very difficult for me to make that call because usually pain is not a problem for me,” he said. “I’ve played through pain, but my thing is, when I can’t go at full speed because of the pain, that’s a big problem for me. I felt like it wasn’t justifiable for my team for me to go out and be at 40 percent with those guys coming out and giving 100 percent.”
Most players at 40 percent would need more than two days to recover and get back on the court. But most players aren’t Gerald Wallace.
When I walked down to practice today, there was Wallace getting up and down the court against his teammates, holding nothing back. Was I shocked? Not a chance. This is what we’ve come to expect from Wallace in his four years with the Bobcats.
So will he play on Tuesday in Miami? His chances are good, but only time will tell.
“I wanted to test it today. I came out and got a good sweat going and told (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) it was feeling good and he allowed me to continue practicing,” Wallace said. “This was the easy part though. Once the adrenaline stops, my leg stops pushing like it’s pushing and I get settled, then it will be time to see how it reacts. Maybe tonight when we land in Miami or first thing tomorrow morning, I’ll have a good feel for how it reacted.”
Brezec Might Go With One Good Eye
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 12:18 p.m. 11/19/07
Take one look at Primoz Brezec’s left eye after Monday’s shootaround, and you’d assume there was no chance the Bobcats center would be playing in tonight’s 7:00 p.m. contest against Portland at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
But Brezec says that isn’t the case.
“I’m a warrior, man,” Brezec laughed as he walked off the court after shootaround.
Point of fact is that he’s looking much more like a boxer… who is losing… in the 12th round against an opponent who has him battered, beaten and overmatched.
Brezec’s eye collided with assistant coach Paul Mokeski’s head while working on an inside drill with his coach and Emeka Okafor after Sunday’s practice. It was easy to see who won that battle.
“I have a hard head, and it’s a little harder than his eye,” Mokeski said. “I couldn’t get out of the way.”
The impact opened up about a three-inch cut above Brezec’s eye that required “four or five stitches,” according to Brezec. “I went to the emergency room and they wanted to give me like 10 stitches but I didn’t want a scar. It’s pretty deep and pretty wide.”
Following shootaround, the eye was still swollen shut, and Head Coach Sam Vincent joke he had considered fining Mokeski for the hit. He also said Brezec would be a gametime decision depending on how he looks and feels when he comes back to the arena tonight.
“I don’t want it to get worse – it could be bad,” Vincent cringed. “It doesn’t look good.”
Still, Brezec has said he’s going to play.
“I can’t see anything, but I’ll be ready to go tonight,” he said. “Maybe they can cut it out or do something. Get the blood out and I’ll be ready to go.”
It was the second time in less than a week that Brezec went down while getting in some extra work after practice. Following Thursday’s practice, he was down on the court for approximately 5-10 minutes after catching an elbow to the nose from Okafor.
“Mek hit me in the nose the other day, so maybe I have to stop playing one-on-one,” Brezec laughed.
If Brezec can’t go, expect to see Ryan Hollins move into the starting lineup and rookie Jermareo Davidson get some more playing time.
Felton Will Be In Friday's Lineup
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 1:21 p.m. 11/9/07
When Raymond Felton went down hard on his left knee against Phoenix on Tuesday, anybody who follows the Bobcats had to be aware that barring major damage, Felton would be back on the court soon.
After missing Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia, Felton will be back in uniform, and more than likely in the starting lineup when the Bobcats tip off at 7:00 p.m. on Friday against the Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
“I’m good. I’ll be ready to play tonight,” he said after Friday’s shootaround. “It is what it is – there’s no more complaining or worrying about it. It’s time to wrap it up and get ready to play.”
Felton passed a major test getting through shootaround without any significant pain and was able to make the lateral cuts necessary to his game. There is some soreness, but it’s something he will just have to play through early on.
“It’s an injury that you can’t really do anything about,” Felton said. “You can put ice on it, but it’s going to bother me for a couple of games. I just have to play through it. I’m a competitor. I’m a guy who wants to help out wherever I can. I asked (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) at halftime (in Philadelphia) if I could suit up for the second half. He wouldn’t let me do that, but tonight I am suiting up and am ready to go. I’m playing no matter what.”
Bobcats Not About To Panic
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 3:08 p.m. 11/8/07
Four games into the 2007-08 NBA season the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t about to panic.
They came out strong to start the season with wins over Milwaukee at Charlotte Bobcats Arena and on the road in Miami, but followed those up with back-to-back losses at home to the Suns and in Philadelphia. The Bobcats up-and-down start to the season has many in the media and fans in the stands shaking their heads wondering what to expect next.
The next two weeks will give all of us a good feel as to where Charlotte will be headed, and I’ve got a feeling the team we saw in the opening two contests is more indicative of what we’re going to be seeing this season.
When the Bobcats front-loaded schedule of home contests was first released, they talked about the importance of getting off to a fast start, and the past two losses don’t mean that quick start is no longer possible. Six of Charlotte’s next seven games will be played at Charlotte Bobcats Arena with three-straight home games against Indiana, Houston and Miami on the horizon, followed by a road contest in Atlanta and then another three-game homestand against Seattle, Portland and Washington.
These are all winnable games, and playing the majority of them at home will give Head Coach Sam Vincent and the Bobcats invaluable time to get things figured out.
“If people are looking at us just through training camp and the first few games, and thinking we would be where we ultimately want to be – I don’t think any NBA team is there,” said Vincent after Thursday’s practice. “I think it would be putting a whole lot of pressure on us to assume that we could be there. We have to continue to grow and evaluate and analyze some of the things that we haven’t done well, and we have to make some adjustments. We’re still 2-2. There are some teams below us, so at .500, we’re still in pretty good shape. We have to re-identify what we can be good at and take away some of the weaknesses.”
Charlotte might also be getting some help at getting back to what it’s good at, as Raymond Felton might soon return to the Bobcats starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia with a sore left knee.
“It’s cool right now,” Felton said after practice Thursday. “I’m probably about 80-85 percent, so hopefully I’ll be ready by tomorrow – no, I will be ready for tomorrow, no matter what.”
Nobody can question Felton’s toughness through his first two years in Charlotte. Bumps and bruises have been status quo with him, and he’s often fought through injuries that might sideline players with less heart or determination.
“That’s the thing you love about Ray,” Vincent said. “He’s a kid who is tough and hard-nosed. It’s got to be something major to keep him out. We don’t want to do anything that is going to endanger him long term, but if he’s able to play and is cleared by the trainer and team doctors, then we’re going to assume he’s okay.
“(The knee is) still a little bit tender. When he pushes off, he gets a little bit of a twinge, but an 80-percent Ray, in a situation where we need his shooting, his ball handling and his leadership on the floor, is a big benefit to the team.”
Felton isn’t the only one close to a return either. Veteran big man Othella Harrington might be adding some depth to Charlotte’s frontcourt soon.
“Othello is very, very close,” Vincent said. “We’re going to see how he feels (Friday), but we’re looking at activating him here in the next couple days. Possibly tomorrow, but we’re going to see how he feels… If he feels like he can contribute, then we’ll get him involved.”
With the team apparently getting healthier and a favorable homestand ahead, Bobcats fans should follow their team’s lead and not be panicking either.
Bobcats Wanting To Develop A Swagger
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 12:17 p.m. 11/6/07
The Bobcats enter tonight’s game against the Suns looking for their third-straight win to start the 2007-08 season, and yes, I know I am employed by the team, but it’s hard not to be pumped about what is going on here in Charlotte. Our guys have really bought into Head Coach Sam Vincent’s system and are getting results on the court. There’s a feeling that goes with it too – you can see it during and after practices, in the locker room and when they arrive to the arena on game night.
Yes, Charlotte is 2-0. No, neither win has been pretty. But they’ve been wins. Wins that might have eluded the Bobcats through the first three years and become losses that would have left fans and players alike shaking their collective heads.
“I think the fact that we’ve won two close games is huge – the fact that we had the poise and the mental toughness to stick in there and come away with wins,” Vincent said. “Those kind of experiences help you grow even more than the 10- or 15-point wins. In close games, we’re going to have a little more confidence that we can still win this game because we’ve already had a chance to do it. That’s pretty important for us.”
There’s no question that the addition of Jason Richardson looks like it’s going to pay off this season, but it isn’t just Richardson that has brought the Bobcats to this point. Keep in mind that Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec are all entering their fourth year here in Charlotte. For three years now, they’ve talked about “learning how to win.” This is a more mature squad now – not a veteran squad, but more mature. They’re not talking about it any more. Now they’re doing it, and they expect to keep doing it.
“I see that confidence starting to develop,” Vincent said. “As you win more of those types of games, that confidence grows and the swagger comes along with that. That puts you in the area where you go into games thinking you’re going to win vs. maybe you’re going to win.”
If the Bobcats are going to keep the streak alive tonight, they might have to do so without the services of Brezec, who suffered a sprained right wrist in Sunday’s game in Miami. Without Brezec, Vincent is left with a few choices with what to do with the starting lineup.
“I really don’t know (what the starting lineup would look like),” he said. “It’s going to be a game-time decision. We may go with the lineup we’ve been using at the end of games (Jeff McInnis, Raymond Felton, Richardson, Wallace and Okafor), or we may go with Ryan (Hollins) and still try to match up big. We’re looking at different scenarios and are trying to get a feel for what is going to be our best group because we want to get off to a fast start if possible.”
WIn or lose to the Suns, the Bobcats have already given their fans something to get excited about.
Okafor Focused Entering Opener
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 2:38 p.m. 11/1/07
While much of the focus in the media in relation to the Bobcats the last day or so has been on Emeka Okafor’s decision not to sign an extension with the Bobcats prior to the October 31 deadline, Head Coach Sam Vincent is not concerned that it will have a long-term effect on the team heading into the 2007-08 season. In fact, it might motivate Okafor to become even more of a force down low.
“I had a chance to talk to Emeka a little bit last night and he explained to me what his reasons were,” Vincent said after Thursday’s practice. “I respect what he had to say. His decision was not to sign the offer that was extended, and he is going to come out now, play hard and kind of see where things go. I don’t think it’s going to be a distraction for me, the team or Emeka. He knows what he has to do.”
One thing is certain – Okafor’s work ethic is not about to change. Following Thursday’s practice he was out on the court for an extra 30-45 minutes working with Gerald Wallace, Ryan Hollins and Jermareo Davidson on one-on-one moves in the post.
“It’s just the way things go,” Okafor said. “The Bobcats made a fair offer, but I have certain goals for myself and where I want to be as a player. All I have to do is just prove it. The Bobcats have been great and everything is cool. The Bobcats would like me to remain a Bobcat and I want to remain a Bobcat, so the deal will get done when it gets done. It’s all about timing and all about focus. Right now, we just have to have a great and successful season and the rest will come when it comes. I definitely want to be here long-term… I love the team, I love the community and I love the staff. It’s just a matter of time, and things will get done.”
Morrison Out, Dudley Working His Way Back
-- bobcats.com writer Matt Rochinski | 2:17 p.m. 10/23/07
Following Tuesday’s practice at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, we received an update on the status of Adam Morrison, who suffered a partial to complete tear of the ACL in his left knee.
Morrison met with team physician Dr. Glenn Perry Monday night and the results indicated that he will need surgery to repair the damage to his left knee. Morrison will now go through 3-4 weeks of rehabilitation, allowing the swelling and pain to decrease before surgery can be scheduled at Presbyterian Orthopedic Hospital in Charlotte.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose him,” Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent said. “Adam was doing a great job defensively, really making some strong improvements, and he was shooting the ball well. We’re sorry to lose him for the year, but now he’s going to do some pre-rehab stuff to get ready for the surgery and will stay a part of us. It will be a long rehab process, but we’ll look forward to getting him back next season.”
While it was confirmed that Morrison will be out, Charlotte also received some good news on Tuesday, as it might be adding a piece to its rotation soon.
Rookie forward/guard Jared Dudley who has missed the entire preseason with turf toe has been making steady progress towards getting on the court, and Vincent is hoping he will play on Friday against New Orleans in Winston-Salem.
“I’m hopeful that Jared will play in the last exhibition game,” Vincent said. “He’s been struggling with the foot problem. He was cleared to practice tomorrow and will practice all this week, so as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks, he will play on Friday.”
Dudley is excited to get his first taste of NBA action heading into the regular season.
“My goal is to play on Friday, because I want to get a little bit of preparation before they throw me in with the wolves,” Dudley said. “I just want to get my timing down with my jumpshot and start building that chemistry with my teammates, but I know that it’s not going to take too long for me. I just want to get out there.”
Vincent also revealed after practice that center Primoz Brezec, who will be playing in his third preseason game on Friday, will move into Charlotte’s starting lineup alongside Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor.
“I’ve been happy with Primoz,” Vincent said. “Obviously his conditioning is a little bit behind the other guys… missing training camp set him back a little bit, but he’s come in, worked hard and I feel pretty confident that as an experienced, veteran big guy, Primoz is going to be able to add something to the team. I’m actually penciling him in as the starting five. We’ll use that lineup on Friday and see how it looks.”
That’s good news for the Bobcats and Brezec. He strengthens a frontcourt that needs help with Sean May (knee) out for the season and Othella Harrington (knee) still sidelined.
Some Summer Observations
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 11:05 p.m. 8/8/07
I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer since I last wrote a blog. Things have obviously been great for the Bobcats – trading for J-Rich and re-signing Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll to long-term deals. Like many fans, I’m pumped and relieved that these guys are officially back. I didn’t think it was likely that they would leave – both GW and Carroll have flourished here and have helped the team to grow since its inaugural season – but you never know what exactly will happen in free agency. Anyways, here are a few other notes on the Bobcats from the offseason.
It seems that the court design scheme in Charlotte Bobcats Arena has been changed. I remember seeing photo gallery pictures early in the summer with a glimpse of the court showing, and things definitely look different. In addition, the arena seating chart diagram for the upcoming season depicts a different court as well – which is in agreement with the picture I saw. The new court resembles aspects of the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers courts. There is less orange paint with more natural hardwood on display. I did not think a change was necessary, but I do like the new look.
I was channel surfing earlier this summer and happened to land on ESPN2’s First Take as they were mentioning that Adam Morrison was going to be on. The Bobcats don’t get much of a mention on the national media stage, so I stayed on the channel and in case you missed it, here is what he talked about:
Excited About Richardson Addition
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:15 p.m. 7/1/07
Man, I love this Jason Richardson trade. The more I think about it and realize that it is a reality, the more excited I get. This was the second biggest deal in franchise history, behind the trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that allowed Charlotte to move from the fourth pick to the second in the 2004 NBA Draft and select Emeka Okafor. (Interestingly, both trades involved draft picks) Ever since that brilliant move before the team’s first ever draft, I have believed that when the time was right the Bobcats would have the guts to pull off another big move. I am very aware that people have been skeptical though since no other big trades or signings have occurred during the first three years. However, prior to now, a move would have been ill advised (such as fans calling for an Allen Iverson trade – see my December 11 blog) because it would have seriously hindered the plan of building around young talent and staying under the salary cap until the right opportunity presented itself.
As I said before, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Bobcats made a trade in the draft. Given the roster and their production, I felt that the team did not have the luxury to draft another top 10 rookie and sacrifice minutes on the floor (which you justifiably have to give to a player picked that high) for him to develop. This team could have been in the playoffs this past year if it were not for injuries. If you are that close, then I think it is somewhat detrimental to bring in another top rookie when you already have established players who need to be on the floor if you want to win more games. Richardson is a guy who is proven and will be effective as the starting shooting guard averaging 18.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists for his career. He fulfills a need now, while Brandan Wright (who was picked because Golden State wanted him) is a big man who needs to bulk up before he can be affective in the post in a half-court set.
Statistically J-Rich is coming off his worse season as a pro, in which he played only 51 games due to a broken right hand and knee stiffness/soreness. He averaged 16.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists during the regular season and 19.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and two assists in the 2007 playoffs in which the Warriors upset top-seeded Dallas. I think Richardson’s numbers slipped a little this season due to the injuries and the fact that the team made a trade with Indiana to acquire more scorers – placing less emphasis on Richardson to score and fewer shot attempts for him. Prior to this year his scoring average had gone up every season: 14.4, 15.6, 18.7, 21.7, and 23.7 points. I think he will be at least a 20 point scorer for the Bobcats.
I have been a fan of Richardson’s game since he came into the league. I remember watching the Rookie- Sophomore game in 2003 when J-Rich scored 31 points for the sophomore team in a 132-112 win (Side note: He scored 26 and was the game MVP in 2002 to lead a rare 103-97 rookie win). I know the game never has a lot of defense, but the way he scored was impressive and entertaining. On the last basket of the game Richardson was dribbling behind the arc and as the shot clock ran down he threw the ball off of Carlos Boozer’s head and then drilled a three, all to entertain the crowd – the entire point of All-Star weekend. I don’t think I will forget that play for a while or Richardson’s winning performances in the 2002 and 2003 Slam Dunk Contest. His final dunk in 2003, which received a perfect score and won him the competition, was one of the most ridiculous things that I have ever seen. He stood behind the three-point line in the right corner of the court, shot the ball up into the air, let it bounce, grabbed the ball with two hands at its highest point, brought the ball down to his backside, passed the ball from his right hand through his legs to his left hand and reversed dunked it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! The dunk even had Michael Jordan looking up and smiling. He is one of four players to win the contest twice and the only player along with Jordan to win back-to-back titles.
With this trade, the Bobcats did not have to give up any of their core players and add a proven veteran. Charlotte can and wants to win now, not later. Richardson will help that cause as he also helped get the Warriors into the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. I can assure you that people will be impressed by his abilities and should be excited about next season. J-Rich is going to be a fan favorite.
Random Thoughts Entering The Draft
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 4:16 p.m. 6/28/07
If you asked me if I was excited about the 2007 NBA draft on May 22 – the night the lottery results were announced – I would have said no. I was really invested in the idea of getting Greg Oden and paring him down low with Emeka Okafor. That isn’t going to happen tonight, but my mood in regards to the draft has drastically changed. You could say that simply getting closer to the draft date naturally altered my mindset because as a sports fan drafts are exciting. I think that is partially responsible, but the main reasons for my extreme renewed interest has to do with the talent level in this draft and the possibility of trades this year.
Oden and Kevin Durant are the best prospects in this draft, hands down, however, I think that so much hype surrounds them that people forget or are even aware just how good the rest of the players are. By comparison Oden and Durant make everyone else look less appealing because you focus on how great of a player your team is not getting (unless you hold a top two pick). In reality the other players are very talented. Last year Joakim Noah would have been a top three pick and this year he could fall as far as 10. It is true that he wasn’t as dominate in this year’s NCAA tournament as in 2006, but it is not so much his individual game that lowered his draft stock as it is the talent level of the players who entered the 2007 draft. Even though the Bobcats own their first pick five spots farther back than last year, they can still get a good player – one capable of contributing to helping this team make the playoffs. Don’t forget that the Bobcats have the 22nd pick too, where some good shooting guards are projected to be available. I’m really looking forward to what the Bobcats will do tonight along with what the other 29 teams do. Ever since we didn’t get a top lottery pick, I have maintained that I would not be surprised at all if we traded both picks to move up or acquire a good veteran. The Bobcats staff has said that they will explore all options in regards to draft picks if a move can make the team immediately better. We’ll see what happens; only time will tell.
In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on the 2007 NBA Draft:
No Luck In Lottery, But Vincent's The Man
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 7:41 p.m. 5/30/07
To say that I am disappointed with the lottery results of May 22 would probably be an understatement given the fact that a Top 2 pick could have landed an elite player. I was really set on the idea of pairing Emeka Okafor down low with Greg Oden – can you imagine that duo?!?! I felt like the Bobcats were going to win the lottery since they did not tank games like some teams could be accused of doing. I was hoping maybe karma would help.
I do not mean any disrespect though to the player drafted in Charlotte’s first slot, because the talent pool this year is deep. The newest Bobcats player taken in the lottery (I say lottery and not number eight because a trade could happen when you hold two picks in a draft like this) will definitely be a guy capable of contributing and help it get to the playoffs. It is hard to say who the Bobcats will end up taking at this point – no teams are allowed to conduct individual workouts until June 5, so until then, the pick is just an educated guess.
On another note I would like to mention that I like the hiring of Sam Vincent as head coach. The Bobcats took their time and interviewed at least 10 confirmed candidates before they got their man. I figured that a coach would be hired soon after a decision on the contract of Sam Mitchell (a possible candidate, who was a Bobcats assistant coach for a short time) with Toronto was announced. Turns out I was right, because Mitchell had a press conference last Tuesday and Vincent had his on Friday.
Vincent is going to have the task of trying to pick up where Bernie Bickerstaff (now an executive vice president) left off. Bickerstaff did not have a great record, but he brought in many of the players Vincent will coach and instilled a sense of hard work and accountability in them. The former coach/general manager should be appreciated for that. A good foundation has been established, and it will be Vincent’s job to build upon that. He does not have any experience as a head coach in the NBA; however, every NBA head coach faces this challenge in their career at some point. Vincent is no different (he will have something to prove), and I believe he has the tools to be a successful head coach for the Bobcats.
Look at his resume – he’s coached in South Africa, Greece, the Netherlands, the NBA Development League and in the NBA as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. The game may have a different style varying on where the game is played, but basketball anywhere is still basketball – the objective remains the same. In addition to his coaching career, Vincent also was a point guard in the NBA, so he knows the game. I think he will be able to apply that knowledge effectively to leading this team and he confidently appears to believe that too. "I absolutely, positively anticipate this team making the playoffs, and I would be incredibly discouraged and disappointed if we don't," said Vincent. That mentality shows he has high expectations and isn’t afraid to state them. I have to say, I like that.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed In The Lottery
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:12 p.m. 5/21/07
Tuesday night we should have a much better idea as to how this year’s NBA draft is going to pan out – sort of. The league will conduct its annual lottery for the 14 teams who did not make the 2007 playoffs in order to determine which team picks when. The results will be televised on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. This year’s draft has some very unique talent, including two players that virtually everyone considers to be a prize in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Both only played out their freshman year in college, but during the season they showcased their talent and dominance – giving a glimpse of each player’s vast potential. These guys are probably going to be the first two picks selected, but I suppose (although I do not think it is very likely) that could change depending on the team who has the pick and if any other prospects really wow people. Fortunately for the Bobcats, they are in this lottery and have a chance to draft one of these two superior players. If luck does not help to land one of the top draft spots though, there is still a lot of solid talent available, so your disappointment should not last too long after the results are announced.
In case you are unaware as to how the lottery works, here is an explanation: The 14 teams who do not make the playoffs are automatically put into the lottery in reverse order of their regular season record. (If there are any ties then the NBA uses its tie breaking procedures based on the number of teams tied as it did this year on April 20. The Bobcats were tied with the New York Knicks as well as the Sacramento Kings, but Charlotte won the tiebreaker placing the team in the eighth spot.) The team with the worst wining percentage has the most chances of winning the lottery and this chance decreases as you move down to the 14th team. Fourteen ping-pong balls are labeled 1-14 and then the machine will randomly produce a four ball combination such as 3, 10, 6, 12. The order of these numbers does not matter so 12, 3, 6, 10 counts as the same combination. The NBA then takes this combination and checks to see which team it has been assigned to and this team gets the pick. This process is conducted until three different teams have received the first three picks – meaning if a combination belonging to a team that has already won a pick arises then it will be disregarded.
The team with the worst record (the Memphis Grizzlies this year) has 250 combinations out of a possible 1,000 so they have a 25 percent chance of getting the number one pick. The Bobcats were given 19 combinations as a result of the tiebreaker so there is a 1.9 percent chance of winning the lottery. After the top three picks are determined by the ping-pong balls, picks four through 14 follow in reverse order of their record. Since only the top three picks are lottery determined, each team has the possibility of selecting from six different spots. The Bobcats are in the eighth spot so they could select eighth, ninth or 10th, depending on how many teams after the eighth spot (teams in slots nine through fourteen) jump up into the top three slots. Charlotte could also select, first, second or third though.
The picks will be announced in descending order starting with the opening of the 14th pick envelope which will include a card with the logo of the team that received the pick. Each lottery team will have a representative to view the results – Bobcats President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield will attend on behalf of Charlotte along one Bobcat’s fan’s lucky cork. When the lottery results are shown on Tuesday night, if the Bobcats logo is not revealed to be in an envelope for pick 10, nine or eight, then that means the Bobcats will own a top three pick in the 2007 draft in addition to already having the 22nd pick.
I’m excited for Tuesday night and obviously hope that we land the number one pick. The team deserves it by playing hard every game and trying to get as many wins as possible, unlike other franchises that seemed to tank games to help their lottery chances. Hopefully the ping-pong balls will come out the right way – I know I’ll be watching with anticipation. Go Bobcats!