We're back -- and we're better than ever. Welcome to Blog Squad 2.0, the official blog of BobcatsBasketball.com. This season we have a new look with new bloggers and even more great content.
You'll still be hearing from guard Matt Carroll and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, but this year they'll be joined by forward Sean May, assistant coach Jeff Capel, television sideline reporter Stephanie Ready, Bobcats Vice President of Government Relations and Business Diversity Ed Lewis, Public Relations Coordinator Pete Sousa, some surprise bloggers and two new Bobcats fans --Gaither Jones and Pete Reynolds. Various members from around the organization will also 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 2006-07. Check back throughout the season 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
Truly A Season To Remember
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 9:13 a.m. 5/10/07
The Bobcats 2006-07 season closed with a memorable year for a memorable coach. We ended our third season in the NBA record books by winning the most games by a third year expansion team in recent history. I think that is a compliment to the hard work that our players and coaches have put into the Bobcats organization over the last three seasons. Also, I attribute the success of the Bobcats thus far to the vision and planning that (Head) Coach (Bernie) Bickerstaff has instilled into this organization. Coach brought in and hand picked each player that was a contributor to this team. He drafted, traded for players, called up players and signed free agents in trying to assemble a competitive basketball team that the city of Charlotte and all our fans could be proud of. If you look at our team’s progression from each season to the next, we have done nothing but improve dramatically each year. This makes me very excited with what is still yet to come for this organization. Since we added Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time, to the Bobcats organization – with what Coach has put together – it should make our fans very anxious and excited for the future of our team.
This past season has definitely been the most memorable so far in my professional career. Getting an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and being a key contributor in helping the Bobcats was a lot of fun for me personally. There were many games this season that I will never forget, and the first one that jumps into my mind is the L.A. Lakers game at home that we won in triple overtime. There were several other games that we counted on the help and enthusiasm of our fans and our home court advantage to bring home the victories. I have also noticed how much our fan base has grown over the last three seasons – there's even a group of kids that call themselves the "Carroll Crazies! They’re my personal favorite!
I want everyone to realize all the hard work that the Bobcats organization has dedicated into making our team successful. All the people in the front office, the sales people, community and public relations department, and all the other employees that work in the arena and for the organization have had a significant role and making our team what it is today. I have talked with many of my friends who play on other NBA teams, and they are amazed at how much community service and different community projects that our players and coaches perform. I believe that our team realizes how important it is for us to build quality relationships with the people in Charlotte, and I know that most of us thoroughly enjoy doing it, which is a compliment to the type of character people that we have here in the Bobcats organization.
I want to personally thank all of our Bobcats fans who have supported our team this season, and would encourage them to spread the word to other people to continue to support us, because things in Charlotte are only going to get better and more exciting as we keep growing. Our team is composed of mostly young talent that is still learning the NBA game and developing, and I don't think it is far off before we all start clicking and become one of the NBA's elite teams.
This summer I will be busy like usual. I am taking two trips, one to visit my brother Pat, who is playing basketball for a team in France called BCM Gravelines Dunkerque. The other trip will be to China, where I will be participating with the NBA Basketball Without Borders Program, where we will put on a basketball camp for the top players in Asia. Then I will be running a few basketball camps with my brother Pat focusing on shooting the basketball (www.carrollbros.com). Lastly, and most importantly I will be working hard on my game trying to improve and get better for next season to help the Bobcats win more games. Until then have a fun and safe summer.
Herrmann Should Have Been April's Top Rookie
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 7:53 a.m. 5/8/07
If you read my last blog, you may have noticed that I hinted that Walter Herrmann was going to win Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April. I have to be honest, I absolutely-no-doubt-in-my-mind thought that Herrmann was a lock to received the award. I hadn’t seen anything on this website though in regards to this news, so I just assumed it had not been announced. One might say that I grew a little impatient and so I did some investigative reporting (google led me to an NBA.com award page) to find out if the award had been announced. To my surprise, Shelden Williams of the Atlanta Hawks won the award, and I have to say that I am shocked. I haven’t been this upset about an award since Raymond Felton was not put on the NBA All-Rookie First Team last year (see my Dec. 22 blog for my opinion on that award debacle). Here’s a look at how the numbers for Williams and Herrmann match up in April:
Williams – 11.6 points (58.8 percent shooting), 10.6 rebounds in nine games
Herrmann – 19.9 points (57.3 percent shooting), 5.6 rebounds in nine games
I recognize that Williams more than likely won the award due to averaging a double-double, but I do not agree with this logic, even though averaging a double-double is impressive. I will take Herrmann’s numbers over Williams’ because I think it is harder for a rookie in the NBA to score in the league than it is for him to rebound. A player has to have the ball to score and (usually) has to beat a defender, where as rebounding is more about positioning, timing and effort – there isn’t always someone on you.
Herrmann hardly looked like an NBA rookie as he scored nearly 20 a game and made 25-48 three-point attempts for 52.1 percent for the month – who does that?!? There are tons of good NBA veteran scorers that never shoot that well from beyond the arc. Williams did win the rebounding category; however, he plays down low and is one of the bigger guys on Atlanta’s roster, so one of his jobs is to rebound. Herrmann is a wing player and he plays with Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace, so Walter’s numbers in that category are not going to be as high. Walter scores 8.3 points more, while getting only five fewer boards. To me, that makes Herrmann a better candidate for the award.
Despite not winning the award, Herrmann has proven he can be a solid scoring option for his team. He came out of absolutely nowhere faster than I think I have ever seen anyone do, and his production explains why the Bobcats took a chance on him. Now that he has adjusted to the NBA game and things have clicked for him, I’m really looking forward to seeing what he will on the court contribute next season.
Get Out To The Bobcats Last Game Of The Season
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 12:44 p.m. 4/18/07
The Bobcats end third season tonight against the New York Knicks in their home finale and deserve your support. Here are a few reasons why you should attend:
1. The Bobcats play hard every night, and that should be appreciated because many NBA teams do not play with their intensity or effort. The players have really gelled together this year, the team’s core is established, and they have greatly improved. Charlotte has won 33 games (a franchise record) and will attempt to get to 34 wins tonight. Those 33 wins include the team reaching new victory marks in home (20 going for 21) and road games (13). Each year they have showed steady improvement and this team, if the roster stays relatively the same, is in great position to be in the playoffs next year. They would have been in the post-season picture this year if wasn’t for the bad luck of injuries. The Bobcats truly do want to win (even when losing would have helped them mathematically in the draft lottery) and exemplify a sense of pride as well as numerous other characteristics that a winning team consists of.
2. You need to see Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll play as this could be their last year in Charlotte. Carroll is an unrestricted free agent, although he says he wants to return, and Wallace can opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. If he does, GW will be one of the most coveted free agents this summer due to his versatility, relentless effort, and much improved game (18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1 block per game). As for Carroll, he has more than proven he can play in the NBA since his arrival from the NBDL. Carroll is a shooter who can score off of the dribble and is an underrated defender. He has started 47 of 72 games this season averaging 12.1 points (up from 7.6 last year) and 2.9 rebounds per night. He also is a lock from the free throw line because he shoots 90.4 percent, which is second best in the league. Show these players you appreciate them because they have both done their share of helping this team to improve, whether they are back next year or not. I hope they will be though!
3. If you attended or watched any games early in the season but none since mid-March, you need to be introduced to Walter Herrmann. You’ll look stupid if you don’t know who he is next year, mistakenly thinking that he is some scrub we just picked up off of waivers. He had 30 points against Milwaukee on Saturday night on 12-15 shooting, including 6-8 from three, and that was certainly no fluke. Herrmann needs 24 points to bring his average up to exactly 18 points over the last 18 games – a span in which he finally received playing time and earned a starting spot with his excellent play. He needs 23 for an average of 20 for April. Call it a hunch, but I think Herrmann will be receiving his second consecutive Rookie of the Month award.
4. People often do not attend games for the coaching staff, but Bernie Bickerstaff has been a great asset to this team and he should be appreciated as tonight will be his last game in a coaching role. As Head Coach and General Manager he has made some very wise roster moves whether through the draft, trade, or free agency. He has done an admirable job with the Bobcats on the court and helped to implement a philosophy of hard work, intensity, and defense. He has showed patience with this team that I am not sure a lot of coaches would have. Given the talent of his players and the circumstances he and the team have faced in the past three years, he has done a very good job of setting the Bobcats up to be a winning franchise starting next season.
5. It’s the last time to see the Bobcats play in person until next season.
Fighting Until The End
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 9:21 p.m. 4/9/07
The Bobcats Sunday night 111-103 overtime road win against the Miami Heat really sums up this season for Charlotte. In the third year of this franchise, the Bobcats have repeatedly shown that they will play hard every night – a lot of other teams will claim to do so, but if you watch enough games you know that isn’t the case for everyone in the league. This attitude of giving it 110 percent on as many plays as possible, most notably embodied by Gerald Wallace, has helped the team to collect a handful of wins despite being the underdog. Sunday night’s game was no different for the Bobcats, as the team was led by Wallace with 30 points on a ridiculous 10-15 shooting, including three of five from behind the arc. The team played with tenacity and hustle as they forced 26 Miami turnovers – 20 of which were steals (Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor, and GW each had four). The Bobcats were able to build a strong lead that reached a highpoint of 16, but anyone who watches the NBA knows that every team is capable of a run, so you’re not home free until you can survive that last push.
Sure enough, the Heat made their run scoring 12 straight points starting at the end of the third and carrying into the fourth quarter to take a two point lead 80-78. At this point, I remembered all of those early games where the Bobcats would play well, build a big lead, and then just seem to let their opponent take over, mount a comeback, and beat us. Those games though came at the expense of a less experienced team. Charlotte has since matured and has a roster equipped with more talent to respond in such situations. Fourteen seconds after Miami scored, Jeff McInnis found Gerald, who knocked down a three to re-take the lead 81-80. Those are the kinds of moments that the Bobcats are now able to capitalize on and that play set a tone for the rest of the game. The Heat continued to attack and managed to force overtime, but the Bobcats answered right back when they needed it most.
Walter Herrmann, who has continued his great play and shooting since my last blog, proved that he could also knock down shots in the clutch. Herrmann drilled three big threes in overtime to seal the win and prompt radio play-by-play man Steve Martin to say “Herrmann for three… Good!” with the enthusiasm that reminded me of Charlotte Hornet Dell Curry highlights. Previous teams may have been overwhelmed in the past, but this team wasn’t as they scored 19 in overtime – have the Bobcats ever done that? Charlotte now stands at 31 wins – a new record for the Bobcats and the most for an expansion franchise within its first three years since the Dallas Mavericks had 38 in the 1982-83 season. (Just for comparison the Charlotte Hornets were 26-56 in their third season.) Charlotte also has a new record of 12 wins outside of Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
Things are really coming together for this team – they’re obviously more confident – so it is disappointing that the season is almost up. The Bobcats have four games left on their schedule (2 home, 2 away) so they would need to win every one and have Orlando lose their final six to get into the playoffs as the eighth seed. If this should happen both teams would then be tied at 35-47 and they split the season series between them 2-2 so the tie breaker would instead go to the team with the better division record, which would be the Bobcats at 9-7 over the Magic at 7-9. This scenario is definitely a long shot since it also assumes that no other team ahead of Charlotte grabs the spot, and fans shouldn’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. The Bobcats have made great strides this year and I’m very confident that if the right roster moves are made and it is kept relatively intact for next season that Charlotte will have a playoff team in 2008. Until then, continue to show your support for the team as this season winds down starting on Tuesday night against the Heat.
Herrmann Making People Take Notice
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 3:13 p.m. 3/21/07
Walter Herrmann has finally arrived. After spending most of his time on the bench due to a foot injury early on and inexperience in the NBA game, the Argentinean forward has showcased why the Bobcats signed him to their roster this past offseason.
Some critics said that he wouldn't turn out to be much than a bench warmer. A lot of people just didn't know what to expect because he played overseas and they weren't sure exactly how his international game would translate over here. You can also factor in the aspect that many people – especially the average fan – hadn't seen him play unless they paid attention to the Olympics (he was a member of the 2004 Argentinean Olympic gold team) and international basketball competition.
Scouts are most certainly not the average fan though, and the way Herrmann has been playing of late says that Bernie Bickerstaff and his staff did their homework on this guy. I'm sure this is what they had in mind when they signed him. At 6-9 and 225 pounds, Herrmann can cause match-up problems for other teams due to his ability as a shooter to hit from beyond the arc. His height and massive hands also make him a candidate to grab some rebounds as well. Herrmann isn't your normal rookie either – the Argentinean Fabio look-a-like (see him with his hair down) is 27 years old, so by now he has amassed a great deal of knowledge in the game of basketball, but it has taken time for him to adjust to the NBA.
It was worth the wait though. Walter has played in only 35 games, usually seeing limited floor time, however, recently injuries have forced him out on the court and his play has dictated that he stay there. His last four games have been great and have shown that he is more comfortable now in the Bobcats system than before. On March 14 against the Kings he played 12 minutes and shot 4-4 from the field, including 2-2 from three for 10 points along with two boards. Next up the Clippers game, in which he made 6-11 baskets for 15 points and collected three rebounds in 25 minutes. Against Milwaukee Herrmann played 30 minutes scoring 18 points (7-11 field goals, 2-4 from deep) and grabbed five rebounds.
On Tuesday night against the Cavaliers, Herrmann showed the coaching staff, his teammates, and fans that he can continue to make an impact on this team as he finds his niche. He played a career-high 40 minutes off of the bench for his first NBA double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 6-11 shots for the game - including half of his six three-point attempts - and made all four of his free throws. His final three put Charlotte up 104-98 with 31 seconds left and his two foul shots at the 14 second mark sealed the 108-100 win. As a Bobcats fan you have to be excited about the dimension that Herrmann can bring to this team.
Go Fabio & Go Bobcats!
Knee Still A Little Sore; Go Tar Heels
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 11:01 a.m. 3/16/07
Yes, it's true that Matt Carroll offered to have a three-point shooting class with me, but let me just say that Matt’s on a whole different level than me. I’m still on the beginner’s course and he’s the experienced driver in this thing.
As far as the knee goes, I’m still a little sore. I told (Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) that when I get here today I’m going to do some treatment on it. I’ll come in a few hours early to get more treatment and we’ll see how it goes. During shootaround it’s always tough to gauge it because it’s so early. I’m not used to playing and practicing with a stiff knee like this. I’ve played a lot of minutes as of late, especially after missing six weeks. I think I’ll play tonight, but it depends on if we can get a little of the soreness to go away.
I haven’t had any pain walking around day-to-day, but some of that soreness came back (Thursday) and that’s what we want to stay away from, so we’ll treat it today and see how it feels.
Last night I got the chance to watch my guys at (North) Carolina play. They played well and were up big at times. They let (Eastern Kentucky) come back a little bit but got it under control. I thought Reyshawn (Terry) did a really good job and Tyler (Hansbrough) played well with 21 points and 10 rebounds. They did well. I was a little concerned when I got back home and (Eastern Kentucky) had cut it to four points, but I looked at the time and saw there was 14 minutes left. All we need is about two minutes to blow the thing wide open. I’m happy for the guys, especially the freshmen because they got their first taste of tournament play.
It was bad news hearing that Coach (Roy) Williams sister passed. I called him yesterday and left him a message. He still went out and got the job done for him. They made it easy on him so he didn’t have to coach a tight game and just let the guys play. Hopefully they can get on a roll now and keep it going.
Michigan State is up next (on Saturday), and I’m really expecting a call from (former Spartan and Bobcats player) Alan Anderson today. I’m just going to keep my Blackberry on and see what he says. They’re tough. The Big Ten always plays tough, and if they play that slow-down style of play the Big Ten likes, where they just beat you up inside, it’s going to be tough for us. But if we come out running, then there is no way they can run with us for 40 minutes. It just depends on what team executes the game plan, and of course I have the Tar Heels doing that.
Taking In The Action
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 8:30 a.m. 3/16/07
Still without Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats were looking for their third straight win as they faced the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Unfortunately the Clippers, led by Elton Brand, are a big team and the Bobcats were without Primoz Brezec as well as Sean May leaving them with more than a slight disadvantage. This aspect didn’t seem to faze the Bobcats though because they started out strong. During the first quarter, everything seemed to fall for the home team – every starter scored. Raymond Felton looked especially good as he scored nine points in the period and got his teammates the ball for open looks. The way things were going I thought he might get 30. The Bobcats scored 37 points in the first and continued to lead the Clippers until it was tied at 53 at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in courtside seats – quite an experience (thanks UG). It is impossible to miss a play and you can actually hear the players, referees, and coaches talking which is pretty cool. If you ever have the opportunity to sit courtside at least once, I recommend it. During a timeout one of the cameramen spotted my friend and me and came over to kneel down right in front of us. We thought he was about to film something behind us until he indicated that he wanted to get a shot of my hat. I was wearing a UNC hat and my unfortunate friend was wearing a Duke hat. My buddy got instantly booed by the arena crowd especially when he stole my hat, but I quickly got it back and then took his hat to show my disapproval by leading the crowd in boos for Duke and cheers for UNC – all captured on the jumbotron. After the game a fan told me that he saw Sean May getting a kick out of it and that he applauded when I gave the #1 sign beside my hat. It was another good memory from a Bobcats game and hopefully one of many more to come, but back to the game action.
The Clippers came out firing – ready to bang inside – after halftime and by midway through the third L.A. had the lead and never really looked back. The Bobcats cooled off from their first quarter efforts – entering the fourth quarter down 13 and too many shots were off the mark to get them any closer than 12. Even when the Bobcats did put the ball in the basket, the Clippers answered right back. The real difference maker in the game was Tim Thomas, as he repeatedly hit shots (9-12 field goals) from mid-range and from three (5-8) for 24 points off the bench to keep his team in control. It was nice to see Walter Herrmann get some minutes tonight and display what he can do since it has taken him some time to transition to the NBA. He wasn’t spectacular as he connected on six of 11 attempts for 15 points, but that level of shooting will only help the Bobcats in the future. Side note: I’ve read he can palm a basketball with just his thumb and index finger – after tonight I wouldn’t doubt it by the way he drove to the basket while effortlessly maneuvering the ball in his hand. In addition to Herrmann, Ryan Hollins also saw action and scored eight points in a little over seven minutes. For a seven-footer he has surprisingly good free throw form (with a high-arcing shot) which resulted in swishes. Overall the game probably would have been different if the Bobcats were not so banged up, but they gave a good effort with what they had to work with. Enjoy March Madness. Go Tar Heels & Go Bobcats!
That's A Team Effort
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 11:00 a.m. 3/14/07
One criticism about the Bobcats is that they often lack a go-to-guy who they can consistently look to when the team needs a basket. If you hadn’t ever watched the Bobcats play before, you might wonder why they even need such a player. After having a day off from practice, the Bobcats used a complete team effort with six guys in double figures to beat the Orlando Magic 119-108 Monday night and snap their losing streak. Derek Anderson had 24 points off the bench to lead the team in scoring and got a double-double while Raymond Felton registered 21, Gerald Wallace 20, Primoz Brezec 17, Sean May 14 and Adam Morrison 11. The team got off to a quick start by knocking down their first five shots and finished the opening quarter with 34 points. Things didn’t go any differently for the rest of the game (you can probably guess that by the point total) as the team shot 56 percent from the field. Even more impressive, the Bobcats were making it rain from behind the arc as Wallace hit 4-4, Anderson hit 4-7, Felton hit 3-5, Carroll 2-3, and Morrison 1-3 – meaning Adam was the only Bobcat to shoot under 57 percent from long range. Those numbers total up to converting 14- 22 threes for 63.6 percent. That’s an impressive stat no matter who you play for, and for the Bobcats – who don’t have a reputation as a strong three point shooting team – that stat is also surprising. Charlotte got such nice looks by working the offense until a good shot opportunity presented itself – many times driving and kicking the ball out to the open man. The Bobcats passed and shot so well that they finished with 39 assists on 42 made field goals – most notably Derek Anderson contributed 10, Wallace nine, and Felton seven.
Another surprise for the night was that Sean May was in the starting five. I’m not suggesting that he isn’t talented enough to start; I just figured he wouldn’t be ready to since he just made his return from injury against Memphis on Saturday night. The Magic have a lot of size on their roster so May playing helped. He effectively used the range that he showcased during this past summer league to hit shots against post defenders reluctant to pull away from the basket, especially Darko Milicic. In 27:40 minutes May hit 6-8 field goals and both of his free throw attempts for 14 points. He only had four rebounds, but that number will go up as he gets his timing and awareness on the court back.
The final surprise of the night was that Felton got credit for two blocked shots – it isn’t too often that you see someone listed at 6-1 do that. Hopefully the Bobcats will be able to continue their hot shooting in tonight’s rematch with the Sacramento Kings, who shot incredibly well last time in a Bobcats loss, and get another win.
Willing To GIve Curses A Shot
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 1:03 p.m. 3/12/07
So… the West Coast trip didn’t quite turn out as planned and Saturday was a tough loss. To the surprise of no one, losing eight consecutive games when you’re already outside of the playoff picture puts a huge damper on your prospects for serious noisemaking down the homestretch.
However, I’m not out of ideas just yet. As of today, the Bobcats have 19 games to play. They are seven games behind New York, who currently holds the No. 8 seed in the East. There are five teams between them. Were I a religious man, I’d call upon some higher power and ask that they deliver a Bobcat miracle that would fill the homestretch with playoff chatter. Alas, I am not, so I am forced to resort to a lower form of faith and fannery – curses.
You hear a lot about curses in baseball – especially those involving Billy Goats, Black Sox and Bambinos – but never in basketball. With that in mind, the following constitutes my attempt to both (a) alleviate the NBA’s curse deficit and (b) spark six late-season disastrous slides, thereby enabling the Bobcats to claw their way into the playoffs. On with the curses:
The Curse of Bon Jovi. Unfortunately, Bon Jovi’s emergence onto the music scene used up all the goodwill created by Bruce Springsteen and left a generation of New Jersey-based sports teams enmeshed in a complicated web of hairspray, leather pants and mediocrity. At best, the Nets are “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
The Curse of the Law of Diminishing Returns. According to established economic theory, in a production system (say, a basketball team) with fixed and variable inputs (say, “roster spots” and “shoot-first point guards with enormous contracts”), each additional unit of variable input yields less and less additional output (“wins,” perhaps) once a certain point (call it the “salary cap”) is surpassed. One would think that the NBA team located in the money capital of the world would adapt accordingly, but hey, that’s why it’s a curse.
The Cholesterol Curse. You can’t expect to flood the world with that much cheese and get away with it scot-free, can you? Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, and cheese is its weapon of choice. I expect Milwaukee’s path to the playoffs to be met with 100 percent blockage.
The Curse of Josh Smith’s Double-Barreled Salute. Drop the bird on us once? Shame on us. But twice, Josh? Shame on you. Look forward to Atlanta appropriately losing “11” straight.
If the curses don’t work, well, there are always the eight games the Bobcats have left against the aforementioned six teams. If the ‘Cats can get hot, they may not even need my help. Let us pray.
Bobcats Hurting Without Okafor
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 9:20 a.m. 3/12/07
The last time I wrote the Bobcats were doing pretty well – four-game winning streak with the potential to win a franchise record fifth game in a row against a much improved Toronto Raptors team. Since that time, things have gone south. After being relatively healthy for the entire season, Emeka Okafor went out in the third quarter against Toronto with a strained left calf. The Bobcats have lost eight straight and without Okafor I can’t honestly say when the bleeding will stop. The power forward/center is the force behind this team’s defense.
In saying that, I mean no offense to what Gerald Wallace brings to the table because he brings A LOT, but Okafor is a threat down low that people should fear driving on. His ability to block shots is among the best in the league with 2.8 per game. If he doesn’t manage to block the shot, then a lot of times his defense is still able to disrupt it. Basically guards and forwards on the team can put pressure on their men, and should they happen to get beat out on the perimeter, then they know they have Okafor behind them to clean up their mistake. Without this aspect, teams can attack more often and they know it. In addition, the Bobcats miss Okafor’s great hands for grabbing shots off the glass (averaging 11.7 rebounds), which prevents extended possessions for opponents. His rebounding skills also transfer over to the other end of the floor, collecting 4.1 offensive boards a game, giving the Bobcats another opportunity to run the offense. A lot of times after he crashes the glass, Okafor simply makes his own offense and ends up with a put-back slam. Since he has been out, Charlotte has faced teams trying to drive to the basket more often, given up more points, collected fewer boards and blocked fewer shots.
This is obvious, but the Bobcats aren’t as good without their stellar defensive starting big man. Saturday night against Memphis unfortunately was no different. Pau Gasol was able to take advantage of Okafor’s absence by notching 31 points and 15 rebounds, while Hakim Warrick and Rudy Gay were also able to get easy baskets down low. Usually it is a safe bet in any arena to say that some people will show up rooting for another team, so I kind of expected to maybe see a sign maybe saying “Rudeee” in support of the exciting UConn product and the Grizzlies, but that wasn’t the case. Despite the Bobcats recent losses, it was nice to see a good crowd at the arena supporting the team. For those who attended the game, they did get to see Sean May’s return (a solid 13 points on 5-10 field goals and 3-6 free throws), as well as the Bobcats put up a good fight until Memphis pulled away in the fourth.
Charlotte was able to stay close for so long due to strong performances from GW (yet again) and Raymond Felton. Wallace had 24 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals – further proving that if he opts out of his contract this summer for free agency that the Bobcats need to resign him. He has become a heck of a player since arriving in the expansion draft from the Sacramento Kings – better than I expected he would be – and is a staple for this franchise. I really hope he plays for this team for several more years. As for Felton, he once again displayed his offensive skills beyond being a good passer as he scored 24 points in 34 minutes. He is developing his game and that’s good for the future.
As for the Bobcats immediate future, they will play Orlando next at 7 p.m. tonight. With Okafor still out, Charlotte will face the tough task of stopping Dwight Howard, the man drafted before him in 2004. Hopefully with support from their fan base, the Bobcats can get the job done and stop this losing streak.
The Wins Keep Coming
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 12:24 a.m. 2/24/07
For the second time in the Bobcats short history, fans can say that their team has won four straight. The Bobcats used a solid team effort to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 102-87 on Friday. Once again this season Charlotte proved that they could play with a lead and maintain it. At the end of the third quarter the score was 77-63 favoring the home team, but the 76ers – down most of the game – made a final push with a 7-0 run to start the fourth. In the past, the Bobcats have had the misfortune of losing games in the final period (which is understandable, given how young they are) so the next play was crucial to stop Philadelphia from doing any more damage. Brevin Knight saw an opportunity to respond as he made a quick pass down low to Emeka Okafor who then slipped between two defenders for a basket off of the glass to push the lead up to nine.
Later, with 2:23 left Raymond Felton found Okafor open for a dunk to make it 93-80. It was fitting that Emeka made these two plays, because he was such a large reason for the win. Despite having the flu, he managed to play 31 minutes off of the bench to register 16 points and 16 rebounds – his 35th double-double. His teammates – maybe inspired by Okafor’s efforts – rose to the challenge and matched what he brought to the table.
The Bobcats played good defense (they held Andre Iguodala to just 10 points on 3-12 field goals) and moved the ball around extremely well to find good open shots. Starters Matt Carroll, Gerald Wallace, and reserve Adam Morrison each contributed 19 points. GW got a lot of his points from post-ups and by slashing to the basket while Carroll (7-11 field goals) and Morrison (7-12 field goals, 3-3 from long range) continued their hot shooting. In regards to Adam, I was hoping that a solid performance in the fun and relatively stress-free Rookie-Sophomore game would allow him to just relax, gain confidence and elevate his play for the second half of the season. I’m not sure if Morrison’s performance over the All-Star break is even part of the reason for his recent improvement, but I hope he can keep this going. If he does, the Bobcats are going to continue their climb up the standings and “The Great Mustachio” (as he self-proclaims in an NBA Live commercial) may find himself with the 2006-07 Rookie of the Year award.
The Bobcats next play the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. tonight in an attempt to reach a new franchise record five-game winning streak so get down to the arena and show your support if you can. This team is getting better and I believe – along with what Michael Jordan said in his recent letter (I recommend reading it) – that it has a bright future ahead. Go Bobcats!
Moments To Remember From Season's First Half
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:15 p.m. 2/22/07
The Bobcats are currently on a three-game winning streak, and their improvement has been fueled by spectacular plays and performances from various players allowing the team to learn how to win big games and build confidence. I know that there is still a lot of room to improve, but as a fan you have to like where this team is headed. They’ve added savvy veterans to help mentor the young players, Emeka Okafor has shown his dominance on defense, Gerald Wallace has expanded his offensive arsenal, and things seem to be clicking better on the floor for Raymond Felton – just to name a few reasons for the Bobcats progress. With that said, here are my few awards/highlights for the first half.
This might be a no-brainer, but the Bobcats 133-124 win over the Lakers on December 29 in triple overtime was pretty sweet. The teams went back and forth and the Bobcats withstood 58 points from Kobe Bryant and Okafor recorded a career-high and franchise record 25 rebounds to accompany 22 points and four blocks. Felton also played a great game as he abused the Lakers down the stretch using the pick-and-roll in addition to other post-up plays with Okafor. The second-year point guard finished the game with 22 points and 15 assists.
Best All-Around Performance
The Bobcats lost to the Wizards at home 114-107 on December 27, but Wallace put on a heck of a show. He did everything he possibly could to try to get a win and the box score (if you didn’t attend the game) proves that. G-Force had 40 points (15-27 field goals, 10-11 free throws), 14 rebounds, six steals and four blocks. Unbelievable.
Most Improved Player
Several players have gotten better, but without a doubt this goes to Matt Carroll because he has made the biggest jump. He has proven that he can really shoot the ball averaging 11.3 points (compared to 7.6 points last year) and opens up the Bobcats offense because teams have to respect his ability to hit the three. When shots are consistently falling for him, all he needs is to give his defender a pump-fake, drive to the basket, and if he gets fouled he is pretty much a guarantee to hit the free throws at 91.1 percent shooting.
Best Defensive Play
There have been some great ones thus far, but the one that has stuck in my memory belongs to GW in Denver on January 29. With 41 seconds left in the game, Wallace managed to run down Carmelo Anthony from behind then jump and hang in the air while keeping his body under control to prevent a foul call – which superstars such as Anthony are more likely to get in their favor – and blocked the shot. I have seen the replay multiple times and I’m still impressed. Had Anthony made the shot, the Bobcats would’ve been down 103-102 and possibly lost the game; instead, Wallace’s defensive heroics preserved a 105-101 win.
Best Defensive Player
Okafor. He is averaging 11.4 rebounds per game (sixth best in the NBA) and is second in the league in offensive rebounds with 3.9. Along with grabbing the ball down out of the air Okafor has repeatedly illustrated that he can swat it away from the hoop as well. He averages 2.8 blocks per contest, recording as many as 10 on January 12 against the Knicks and eight came in the first half – are you kidding me?!? Okafor’s mere presence accompanied with his rapidly growing reputation as a shot blocker is enough to disrupt shots (which sometimes even leads to Wallace blocks) and allow him to prevent baskets.
Trying To Fight Through This
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 7:10 p.m. 2/22/07
I know all of our fans out there are wondering about my knee, but right now it’s the same old, same old. The bone bruise isn’t healing as fast I would like, but it’s getting better.
I’m still struggling with it. I’m trying to practice and afterwards it’s still sore. It’s just something we’re dealing with. The doctors said that I need to give it more time.
It stinks sitting at home every day wondering why it’s not healing. I feel like I’m doing everything humanly possible to speed this recovery along. It’s a tricky injury. It’s something you try to deal with, but I’m getting frustrated. The organization’s getting frustrated, but I’m doing everything I can do.
I stayed here (over the break). I didn’t want to do a lot of traveling. I stayed here and worked out, because I thought the first game after the All-Star break, I’d be back. I came in (Tuesday) and it didn’t feel right and I didn’t do anything.
I don’t feel great on it when I’m out there playing. I can still move around a little bit, but I’m not me. It’s always in the back of my head, and it’s afterwards when I can’t move. It’s stiff and tightens up.
Anytime you’re playing with that at 22 years old, you’re like “Whoa, you shouldn’t be feeling this right now.” At 36 after playing for 12 years, that’s one thing. At 22 and not even two years in…I only played 22 games last year, so its hard, but I’m going to fight my way through it.
Things Progressing As Second Half Starts
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 4:00 p.m. 2/22/07
After watching the weekend of All-Star festivities and soaking up the show-pony glitz of Las Vegas, I was ready to get back to regular season basketball. There’s just something extremely comforting about watching a basketball game and knowing that there’s a zero percent chance that Wayne Newton will show up. Danke schoen, Wayne.
When we last saw the Bobcats heading into the break, they were thumping the Bulls, and they’ve since added two impressive wins over the Hornets and Timberwolves. As they lace up the sneaks for the final 28 games, what can we expect? Better yet, what can we hope for?
In a word, progress. The Bobcats are currently 21-33, which puts them on pace to win 30 or more games. Last year, the ‘Cats won 26 (a .317 winning percentage). However, since December 29 (the epic triple-overtime victory over the Lakers at the Den), the ‘Cats have gone 14-12, a significant improvement over the team’s record prior to that point. So if the Bobcats keep playing .500 ball or better, then their expected win total moves to around 34, which would be a tremendous achievement for a team playing in only its third season.
If they can continue to stay relatively healthy, it looks like the Bobcats have a real shot at getting well into the thirties in the win column. To wit: 16 of the remaining 28 games are against teams that are currently being cropped out of the proverbial playoff picture. Nineteen of the 28 games are against teams from the Eastern Conference. I’m no mathemagician, but if the Bobcats are looking for an opportunity to tally wins and climb the ladder in the conference standings, there it is. Currently, the ‘Cats are 5 1/2 games out of the 8-seed—a healthy margin, to be sure—but if they can get hot, the favorable schedule the rest of the way might be enough to give them a fighting chance at sniffing the playoffs. I’d definitely consider that progress.
Excitement Boiling Over
-- Bobcats Lady Cat Stacey | 8:30 a.m. 2/13/07
Tuesday morning! I was up all night with excitement. I actually went to bed about 10:30 (which is 1:30 Charlotte time) but at 1:00 am I woke up ready to go.
I couldn’t believe after three hours of sleep I was ready to go. I dosed in and out of sleep until 6:00 am. I think I am just so anxious.
My roommate and I are getting ready to go down to our first fitting. After that, we will be at practice and rehearsals for the rest of the day.
First Day A Busy One
-- Bobcats Lady Cat Stacey | 9:17 p.m. 2/12/07
It is the end of the first day of my trip. I finally arrived at my hotel around 6:00 pm. I met my roommate (who is from Chicago and awesome) and got ready for our welcome reception. At the reception, we were introduced to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. They were all very excited to have us here in Vegas. It was the idea of the LVCVA to have the All-Star Dance Team.
Each girl was given a bag, and of course we took a ton of pictures. Laurie Ann, our choreographer for the week, came and let us know how excited that she was. She is going to work us out!
I am going to get a good night’s sleep and get ready for a jam packed tomorrow.
Ready To Get Started
-- Bobcats Lady Cat Stacey | 10:03 a.m. 2/12/07
Today is the big day! I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach. I can’t believe this experience is finally here. All-Star Week!
I tried to make this morning as normal as possible, but deep down I was so so so excited! I went to Starbucks for my usual mocha and of course to Brueggers for a bagel. I sat there with my husband talking about everything I am possibly going to experience
I heard from some of the LadyCats this morning wishing me luck. I wish they could be there with me. I also received the most thoughtful gift bag from Sonia. She gave me a card along with power bars, snacks, muscle cream (which I will need) and most of all… encouragement.
Now I am sitting in the airport with a million thoughts running through my mind!
What should I expect? What will the dances be like? What will my roommate be like? Did I bring everything I needed? Oh my goodness, I hope I didn’t forget anything.
Well, I am about to board the plane and start my journey. I can’t wait. I hope that I make everyone back in Charlotte proud!
Waiting To Make A Decision
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 11:11 p.m. 2/9/07
I’d love to get back out on the court tomorrow (against the Rockets). We just have to wait and see when we get to Houston. I didn’t do all of shootaround today because I was a little sore after yesterday’s practice. With two games left before the All-Star break, we just want to be cautious. If we wait until after the break, it’s only going to be two more games. I’ve already missed eight, so we’ll wait and see.
Right now there’s still a little bit of soreness, and those five days of All-Star might help. It all depends on how things go after the flight and if there is any swelling or pain when I wake up tomorrow. For me, the worst thing is going, sitting and then coming back. Playing and not playing, playing and not playing – it adds so much more stress. I’d rather just let this thing heal. With a bone bruise, a lot of people don’t understand that it’s a tough injury to deal with because you can’t do anything to treat it. You just have to wait. For me, it’s just a minor bone bruise, but it’s taken a little time to heal.
I can’t wait to play though. For the last eight or nine days, they’ve told me to do absolutely nothing. The only thing I’ve been doing is lifting weights and sitting around, but the last three days I’ve been able to get on an elliptical and the exercise bike twice a day so I could have some kind of activity. I worked out before the Philly game and felt great, so I told them I wanted to try to practice. I practiced the whole practice yesterday and it felt great, but later that afternoon it just got a little sore on me. It might be a situation where I’ll play, it’ll get sore and I’ll just have to deal with it. We'll see.
Could We See Carroll Or Hollins In Las Vegas?
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:11 a.m. 2/5/07
I am sure you know that Emeka Okafor wasn’t named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve on Thursday night, which is frustrating since (in my opinion) he deserved to be there over a few of the players on the roster. Okafor could still be added to the team if someone gets injured and would be unable to play on February 18. You don’t wish for anyone to get hurt; however, Shaquille O’Neal has been aggravated by injury for the entire season, so if anything should flare up again and he decides to rest during the All-Star break, then the Bobcats center would be a likely candidate to replace him.
Even if this does not happen, Okafor will be on future All-Star rosters and Charlotte could possibly be represented by other players this year in addition to Raymond Felton and Adam Morrison already scheduled to participate in the Rookie-Sophomore game.
Anyone who has seen Ryan Hollins play can tell that he is pretty athletic for a guy his size – you can just recognize this in his movement. I remember reading after he was drafted out of UCLA that he had a very impressive ability to dunk the basketball (especially for a seven-footer) and can make a variety of throw-downs due to his agility and length. The NBA has had trouble getting the big name stars – such as LeBron James – to participate so they often are looking for young energetic dunkers. The players haven’t always had big reputations either – last year rookies Nate Robinson and Hakim Warrick were in the contest, with Robinson winning. Hollins, a rookie, seems like he would fit that mold. Maybe he is a long shot, especially coming from a small media market team, and hasn’t played a lot of minutes this season to show what he can do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was included in the Slam Dunk festivities.
Another possible player that maybe could go to Vegas is Matt Carroll to compete in the Three-Point Shootout. Since Carroll began to see more playing time, he has really been able to effectively advertise his shooting ability to the NBA. He has connected on a solid 40.5 percent (62-153) of his shots from deep – good enough for the 21st best percentage. Carroll is probably a long shot, (no pun intended) but it would be cool to see him try to light it up from three. He would be a guarantee to go to All-Star weekend if the NBA had a free throw shooting contest of some kind. He has only missed 10 free throws all year, making 99-109 for a 90.8 shooting percentage that places him as the fourth best in the league.
The players for both of these contests will be announced this week (fans don’t get to vote), and if Hollins and/or Carroll receive an invite to Las Vegas, I’ll be rooting for them.
Okafor Deserves To Be An All-Star
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 4:21 p.m. 2/1/07
I’d like to start this blog off by saying congrats to Raymond Felton and Adam Morrison for being selected to the Rookie-Sophomore game. Both of them deserved it, and I am sure Felton is glad to make it in his final year of eligibility since (in my opinion) he should have made it last year. (Side note: Sean May would probably be the third player from Charlotte in this event if not for injury) Since the two Bobcats though are on different teams, one is destined to have bragging rights – I’m guessing it will be Felton and the sophomores, but I think Morrison will still play well – we’ll see.
I’m hoping that at least one other Bobcats player will be included in the All-Star weekend festivities – he most certainly deserves to be – and that player is Emeka Okafor. The third-year player is having his best season yet, which can be attributed to avoiding injury, and I know that all fans wish for the trend of health to continue. Injury prevented him from playing in both years of the Rookie-Sophomore game. Okafor is playing so well that he even is a likely candidate for the 2006-07 Defensive Player of the Year award, but that is a discussion for another blog.
Tonight the All-Star reserves as voted by the NBA head coaches will be officially announced on TNT at 7 p.m. and I am hoping that Emeka’s name will be announced. He is facing some tough competition, in addition to the fact that fans voted in Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal – who only played in six games due to injury and averaged 12.0 points with 6.5 rebounds, which are far from All-Star caliber numbers – as the starting center does not help. If fans had voted more on performance and not popularity then Dwight Howard would be the starter at the five position, making it easier for Charlotte’s power forward/center to make the team. That is all beyond Emeka’s control though, and all he can do is let his game dictate how good of a player he is.
In my opinion (and I am sure I am not alone) his stats this season make him worthy of an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve. Through 45 games he is averaging 14.9 points on 53.9 percent shooting from the field, 11.4 rebounds and 2.95 blocks per game thus far. As for how these numbers stand up against the rest of the league, Okafor is fifth in rebounding, but for All-Star analysis purposes he is second in the Eastern Conference behind only Dwight Howard who registers 12.1 rebounds per game. Okafor is the best offensive rebounder in the league with 4.0 per game. The Bobcats center is also one of only 14 players in the NBA to average a double-double. He is eighth in the league with 27 double-doubles at this point in the season (Kevin Garnett leads everyone with 38). His blocks per game are good enough to be tied for second overall, and it should be noted that he was tied for first along with Jermaine O’Neal and Marcus Camby with a 3.0 average before last night’s performance of zero blocks in a win against the Knicks.
The bottom line is that Emeka Okafor is having a great season and should be rewarded with a little recognition for it. Realistically, he will probably lose some votes based on the facts that the Bobcats don’t have a winning record and/or that Charlotte is a small media market; however, I hope this will not be enough to prevent him from being selected. Okafor has been a key reason for the Bobcats improvement this season and is definitely one of the best low-post players in the Eastern Conference. As far as I am concerned if his name is not announced tonight, he’s still an All-Star player and I am confident he will be in many All-Star games to come.
Time Needed To Heal
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 11:31 a.m. 1/31/07
I just want to take the time to address the latest on my injury here in my blog, so our fans can here what it going on directly from me. When it came down to it, it was just a bone bruise that has been bothering me, and there is really nothing you can do about it. I do my exercises and the preventative treatments that I go through every day, but the only way a bone bruise can really heal is on its own. You just have to give it time.
I’ve had some soreness for a while. I thought I was okay after missing four games and then came back and played against Detroit (on January 24). It took about seven days for it to really feel good before that, so hopefully I’ll be ready to go in the next 10 days. That’s what I am thinking, but the doctors can’t really give me a timetable. It wasn’t extremely bad – a really bad one takes about six weeks (to heal). Gerald (Wallace) had one last year and it took three or four weeks. Hopefully in the next week or so it will start to get better. The good thing is that All-Star break is coming up, so that should help.
Initially I was going to try to just keep playing and have it day-to-day, but I told them I would rather sit out now and miss a few games and finish out the rest of the season playing at a high level, which right now I really couldn’t do. The thing you have to be careful with is that some bone bruises tend to turn into the micro-fracture thing that a lot of guys are dealing with now days, and that can be scary.
I’m the type of guy that if I can play through it, I’m going to play through it. I tried to, but it got to the point where it made me change my game and I wasn’t able to do what I thought I was brought here to do. I talked to (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) and then I met with (team physician) Dr. (Glenn) Perry, and we decided it was time to just let this thing heal. Hopefully I’ll only miss three or four games and then I’ll be back.
It’s definitely frustrating, especially after last year where it felt like I missed the whole season, playing only 23 games, and most of those games I played injured. I’ve never had knee problems, and right now it seems like I’m just going through a little bit of a funk with this right knee. I’m sure it will all work out. I understand that this is my job, and in order for me to go out and be effective, I have to be healthy.
Injuries are part of this game. It’s all about how you deal with them. I’m staying positive and was happy to hear that I didn’t have to have surgery or anything like that. I’ll be back in full swing here soon.
United Team Impresses On The Road
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 8:15 p.m. 1/30/07
Team chemistry can account for a lot in basketball no matter what the level of talent is that you face. The Bobcats went into Denver to wrap up a tough three-game road trip facing two of the NBA’s most recognized talents, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. I’m not sure how many people thought Charlotte would be able to beat such a formidable duo, but one thing is for sure – the Bobcats believe in themselves. They are gaining the confidence to hesitate less and make plays when they need to be made. They seem to trust one another more as the season wears on by showing faith in their teammates’ abilities, whether it is Emeka Okafor or Gerald Wallace taking the ball inside or Raymond Felton penetrating for a layup or choosing to dish to a shooter like Matt Carroll. They are finding that they can rely on one another down the stretch.
Monday night was a perfect example of this young team gelling together – doing so in a pro-Nugget environment – to win 105-101 and improve to 8-14 on the road. (I know this isn’t a winning record, but you need to realize that last season the Bobcats were 9-32 away from Charlotte so this is a very nice improvement thus far.)
Like most of the Bobcats wins, the effort against Denver was fueled by hustle and intensity. The Bobcats went after steals, hit the boards, had good positioning on offense – especially Okafor in the low-post which led to easy scores – and most importantly hit open shots. Carroll (14 points) and Adam Morrison (12 points) contributed crucial three-point baskets to help rally Charlotte from a 96-91 deficit – the Bobcats didn’t surrender the lead again after that. GW, who continues to impress me with his play even with a banged up shoulder and all of that padding on, led the team with 25 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. On offense he found his way in between defenders – some attempts more difficult than others – to convert easy lay-ins or draw contact for the foul. He hit 7-8 free throws; impressive considering that logic dictates that a shoulder injury usually restrains the shooting motion making the shot have less arch and more likely to miss. He probably would have made all eight, but my friend jinxed him by pointing out that he had yet to miss one – sorry about that Gerald. The second of his two blocks came against Anthony on a fast break attempt with 41 seconds left in the game. Had Wallace not blocked it (side note: I’m really not sure how he physically managed to run down Anthony then hang in the air for as long as he did, keep his body under control to prevent a foul and still block the shot) the Bobcats would’ve been down 103-102. So if you haven’t gotten the idea yet, the play was kind of a big deal – if you want validation, you could see it on SportsCenter.
Wallace was only one of three Bobcats to reach a double-double though. Okafor had 18 points (9-12 field goals), 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks while Felton recorded 16 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. These performances were enough to counter Iverson (31 points) as well as Anthony (25 points) and illustrated that maybe you don’t always need a “superstar” to win big games. If the Bobcats can duplicate team performances like Monday night’s then more wins are sure to follow.
See I told you we shouldn’t and didn’t need to trade for Iverson. Go Bobcats!
Wallace Blowing Up Big Man Stereotypes
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 3:08 p.m. 1/30/07
I hate the term “tweener.” It’s often used by scouts and coaches to (negatively) label players and prospects who don’t necessarily resemble the “prototypical” player at any given position.
If you’re a good ball-handler and passer, you’re a point guard – unless you’re too tall. If you’re 6-7 and athletic, you’re a wing player. Unless you’re 6-10 and bulky, you can’t play power forward – why, you ask? Because you are going to be matched up against an opposing power forward every night who is 6-10 and bulky, and with whom you likely share a very similar skill set. It’s as though the point is to cancel out the opposition, rather than to identify and exploit its weaknesses.
Since Gerald Wallace’s return from his recent shoulder injury, however, the prototypical small forward has thrown a wrench into the proverbial machine by starting at power forward, but not playing a “classic” power forward’s game. Granted, this reassignment arises out of necessity (injuries to Bobcats centers have forced Emeka Okafor to the center spot, leaving the four to Gerald), but it has been effective nonetheless.
For instance, in Wednesday night’s loss to Detroit, GW went for 29 points and 11 boards, as he dominated Rasheed Wallace on offense, despite Rasheed’s size advantage. Gerald’s ability to play from the perimeter drew Rasheed away from the basket, opening up the offensive boards and allowing GW to beat Rasheed to the glass for several first half putbacks. In the second half, when Rasheed was tired of getting beat to the rim, he backed off, and GW made him pay by knocking down a couple of baseline jumpers. And this is not meant to disparage Rasheed (okay, it is – he looks as though he has aged about six years in the last year and a half)—GW is just much quicker.
In fact, very few power forwards in the NBA (especially the Eastern Conference) are quick enough and athletic enough to match up with Gerald’s increasingly versatile offensive game, and GW is a good enough rebounder and shot-blocker to compensate for his size disadvantage on defense.
If we survey the East, we’ll find only a few power forwards who are both quick enough to guard Gerald away from the basket and crafty enough to keep him off the glass. A quick rundown of Eastern Conference starters at the four goes as follows (in no particular order): Marvin Williams; Jermaine O’Neal; Rasheed Wallace; Drew Gooden; Al Jefferson; Chris Bosh; Stephen Hunter; Udonis Haslem; Cameron Frye; Andrew Bogut; Mikki Moore; Antawn Jamison; Tony Battie; and P.J. Brown. None on that list is quicker than GW. Of those listed, Bosh, Jamison, and Haslem (and maybe Williams) have the best chance at defending Gerald outside of 15 feet, but even then, GW has an advantage. Just ask Rasheed.
But what about injury concerns? As you might remember, Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff occasionally deployed Gerald to the post last season (perhaps inspired by Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni’s use of Shawn Marion at the four when the Suns were Amare-less, but more than likely due to injury problems the Bobcats faced inside), and pounding against power forwards – even in limited time – took its toll on the Alabama Slammer. However, since taking over at power forward this year, Wallace has spent a lot of time drawing his opponents out of the lane, thereby decreasing the number of minutes spent banging on the blocks and absorbing meaty elbows from opposing fours.
In short, he’s making his defenders play his game instead of tailoring his game to the anachronistic notion that a power forward should stay in the post. He is effective against other power forwards precisely because he does not play like other power forwards. Hopefully it continues, because it’s beginning to open up the floor for the Bobcats offense.
Life Is Always Better When You're Winning
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 1:27 p.m. 1/29/07
Since my last blog the Bobcats have won six our of our last 11 games and have been having a good time winning. I think most people know that life is always a little better when you are winning more games than you are losing. A big difference that I have noticed about our team recently is that we have done a good job at finishing games, which is obviously why we have been winning more. We have executed our offense better and made some big shots late in the game along with coming up with crucial rebounds and blocks when we need them.
Beating the Pistons in Detroit, then getting revenge on the Knicks in the Big Apple was definitely a fun road trip for the Bobcats. I always enjoy playing in NYC because I love the playing at Madison Square Garden and my friends and family always make the trip up from Philly, to see the Bobcats play. While I was in New York I went to the NBA store and had the pleasure of co-hosting the Bobcats Insider show inside the NBA store. I have always liked being on camera, but getting a chance to co-host with Matt Devlin and Henry Williams was especially entertaining because we joked around and they made it lots of fun for me. I also did a little damage on the credit card from shopping after we filmed the show. It was amazing how much NBA memorabilia, clothes, shoes and just stuff they have there with either the NBA logo or an NBA team logo on it.
I had a lot of friends call me and say that they were excited to see us play the 76ers since the game was on local TV back in Philly, but that they might miss the second half since the Philadelphia Eagles were playing at the same time. It is always a big win and a little sweeter for me when we beat the 76ers because I know lot of friends and family are watching.
Then we had two tough losses against the Bucks and Nets. I scored 20 points in the first half against the Bucks and made five three-pointers which is the most I have scored in a half so far, but it wasn't quite enough. Before we took on the Hawks for a baseball-like two-game series, I wasn't really looking forward to playing the same team two days in a row. However, after we beat them both times, I was glad we played them twice in a row. I thought our entire team played well in both of the Hawks games. We beat Atlanta by an average of 20 points both games and that is two big wins for us.
Our next two games we didn't have a much luck as we lost to the Raptors and Pistons. I knew the Pistons were going to be ready to play us since we beat them twice already this season. The one positive thing we did during that three-day stretch was a Special Olympics Clinic, which is always a blast. The entire Bobcats team and coaches participated in the event, and I know everyone had a fun time. It is just amazing seeing all the smiles and enthusiasm every member of the Special Olympics has as we interact with them. That clinic was filled with big hugs and lots of hi-fives, which is why I enjoy it so much.
Next up was the Los Angeles Lakers, and I guess it wasn't much of a surprise that we ended up going into overtime with them again. But at least this time we finished the game in one OT rather than three. Although, I’ll do whatever it takes to get the win. I would play 10 OT's if that is what it would take to pull out a victory. I am really proud of my teammates and how they played so resilient. I think most of our team was in foul trouble, including myself, but we managed to not foul out and play some solid defense without fouling in the clutch. I couldn't believe Kobe hit a three to tie up the game and put in into overtime. That shot was kind of deflating for us, but we really stepped up in OT. I had a good feeling we might pull this one out when I banked in a three-pointer in OT. the next possession Kobe asked me if I called that bank shot and I said, "Definitely. Now we are even after the three you hit to put the game in OT.” GW and Emeka had some big rebounds and blocks and Raymond controlled the tempo and had some nice assists.
I know it was a late game, but I hope our fans were able to stay awake to check out a great win. I know there are many more to come, hopefully starting tonight in Denver.
Knee Getting Closer To 100 Percent
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 2:04 p.m. 1/23/07
I know there is some concern out there about my situation with my knee, seeing as how I’ve missed the last four games, and I just want to let our fans know how I’m doing.
Before I went down with my (sprained) ankle (against Boston on December 16) my knee was starting to get a little sore. I told (trainer) Joe (Sharpe) about it. It was more like soreness, but that was to be expected from when I had surgery. When I came back from my ankle on December 30 in Indiana, some time within the next couple of games, I came down and agitated it. Because of where I had that cartilage taken out (last season), I don’t have as much of a shock absorber. It’s just a little tender right now.
For me to be effective, I can’t have something – especially in my knee – in the back of my mind. We’re just trying to give it a chance to calm down, and hopefully within the next couple of days, it’ll get a little bit better. The thing about it is that I can’t go and work out on the court. I need to rest it. So that’s what we’re trying to do right now. I’m still getting shots up everyday, but just trying not to put too much pressure on it.
That’s what being young in this league is about – proving yourself. You play so many games (that) you’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have pain. The key is to know what is smart to play through and what’s not. If you’ve got a bruise or your ankle is tweaked just a little bit, those are things you can play through. Dislocated fingers, they tape it up. You can play though things like that. But when you get to stuff like the knees or back, those are things that can be detrimental to your career.
I’m the type of guy that had one knee surgery that put me out for a whole season. I’d been taking some anti-inflammatories to help with the pain and get some of the swelling out. I go home every night and I have this thing called a “Game Ready” that I put on every night. Getting out of bed, it started to hurt over the last couple of weeks. Every game, going out there before the game and not knowing really how it felt. Every game you see me, I have heat packs on just to make sure I stay loose. It just got a point when we got to New York and we came back here when we played Philly (on January 13) that I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t comfortable with the way I was playing. Even though (against) Philly, I still had a double-double, I wasn’t as productive. That’s a game, if you watch the tape, I should have had 20 (points) and 12 (rebounds). I missed so many easy layups and a lot of things I normally make. I just didn’t feel like I had my legs and I was worried about my knees. That’s why I decided that I needed to let Joe know that it was really starting to bother me more than what I was trying to portray.
I knew against Philly that I needed to have it checked out. At the end of the Philly game, I had three or four possessions in a row when Ray dropped me off and I wasn’t able to finish, enough to the point where I wasn’t able to jump. After the game I told Joe that I need to get this looked at to make sure there’s nothing underlying that is causing me to play this way. The MRI came back negative and it’s just really sore. For me, they told me this might happen within my first year, and unfortunately it has happened. Now I’m getting to be smart about it. Everybody knows that I wasn’t disclosing anything to anybody. I just came back from an ankle within a week and a half and this happened. We played six games, and I tried to come back quick because I want to be out on that court more than anybody, so I’m trying to get this thing out of the way and under wraps.
I really would have liked to play against the Hawks and (former UNC teammate) Marvin (Williams). Every time I’ve played, he’s been out, but we’re going to have many, many years that we’ll be able to play against each other. I was kind of disappointed because I find out that we’re playing him at the four. It would have been good for him to guard me and someone else to guard him. I told him that. It’s a little disappointing, but at the same time, this is my career, this is my job. This franchise, I feel like they need me, and they feel like they need me for this team to be successful. I want to be here a long time, and I can’t help this team win games if I’m out there and I’m not a 100 percent or close to it. But don’t worry, I’ll get to where I need to be and be back better than ever.
Get Out and See Your Bobcats as the Winning Continues
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:29 p.m. 1/21/07
Since I last wrote, the Bobcats got revenge on the Knicks, had a three-game winning streak, and rookie Ryan Hollins (I like his potential as an athletic big man) made his NBA debut. Now the Bobcats have a two game winning streak and are 7-4 over the last 11 games.
Both wins this past weekend were without starters Raymond Felton, Primoz Brezec and key reserve Sean May. With Felton absent and Brevin Knight already injured, Jeff McInnis played heavy minutes, allowing him to get more comfortable with the Bobcats – and it showed. He had 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists on Friday and a night later registered 17 points, four rebounds, and nine assists. Good thing we traded for him.
Gerald Wallace also returned – instantly adding back the exciting possibility of a steal leading to a break-away throw-down to Bobcats games. Wallace also brought back low-post scoring and rebounding as he contributed 18 points and 15 rebounds (one off his career-high) in his first game since the shoulder injury. Matt Carroll – most recently scoring 22 points on 9-12 field goals – continues to play well, and at this pace he’ll get my vote for the NBA’s Most Improved award, although I don’t actually have a vote.
I can’t leave out Emeka Okafor and Adam Morrison, as they turned in solid back-to-back performances as well. In addition to all of this, the Bobcats illustrated the ability to maintain a lead in both matchups against the Hawks and bucked their tendency of not finishing off teams – allowing opponents in the past to come back and win. Hopefully the experience gained this weekend will carry over for the future.
The Bobcats have obviously shown improvement this season with some very memorable and spectacular performances up to this point as they continue to collect wins. If you want to support the team in person, here are eight games that I recommend attending:
Wednesday, January 24 vs. Detroit
Wednesday, February 14 vs. Chicago
Tuesday, February 20 vs. New Orleans
Monday, March 12 vs. Orlando
Tuesday, March 20 vs. Cleveland
Saturday, March 24 vs. New Jersey
Tuesday, April 3 vs. Washington
Tuesday, April 10 vs. Miami
Three "Little Things" Stand Out in Win
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 1:11 p.m. 1/12/07
As any basketball pundit will tell you, in order to win basketball games, teams need to “do the little things.” However, most pundits conveniently forget to identify these mysterious “things,” leaving the rest of us nodding our heads in agreement, but no wiser than when they began their lecture. While I’ve always been a big proponent of “doing the big things,” such as scoring points (a key component of game-winning), I noticed three “little things” during the Bobcats’ last win in Detroit that helped the ‘Cats on their road to victory. They are as follows:
Okay, that’s enough armchair punditry for now. Beginning Friday, the Bobcats are entering a crucial stretch of seven consecutive games against teams with losing records, so now is the time to rack up some wins. I’ll see you at the Den.
Rooting for Carroll and Bobcats Continued Success
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 8:22 p.m. 1/9/07
The Bobcats play the Pistons for the third time this season at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Detroit. Charlotte lost the first matchup in Detroit 104-95 but took the second meeting at home 97-89 with an impressively balanced attack (five players, and almost seven, scored in double figures) led by Emeka Okafor’s 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Even with the loss of Ben Wallace to the Chicago Bulls in the summer, the Pistons are still one of the most solid defensive and strong chemistry driven teams. The Bobcats will need to play smart and well-executed basketball to win. Scheduling might work in Charlotte’s favor as they have time to rest up and heal before Wednesday, while the Pistons played in Philadelphia on Tuesday night (and won 98-89). Despite rest, the Bobcats will still not have the services of Gerald Wallace and Brevin Knight, but Detroit has also been hit by injury. Starting point guard, and 2004 NBA Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups has been out the last four games with a strained right calf. He is a good shooter (hits big shots when the pressure is on, hence the nickname “Big Shot”), passer and a critical part of Detroit’s offense and their defensive schemes, so if he doesn’t play then it would obviously help the Bobcats.
It will also be interesting to see if Matt Carroll can continue his hot shooting of late against such a good defensive team. The last time he faced them, he scored 16 points (5-8 field goals, two-four three pointers) in 20:48 minutes off of the bench. I liked the signing of him from the NBDL’s Roanoke Dazzle back in 2004, and he is turning into the player I hoped he could be – good for him, his teammates and for Bobcats fans. From his blogs and TV interviews he seems like a nice guy, so hopefully he’ll continue his recent play – and Matt, should you read this, I hope you don’t get cut up by Richard Hamilton’s nails this time against the Pistons. Maybe offering him a clipper in pregame warmups would help.
I hope everyone had a safe and Happy New Year. Go Bobcats!
Adding McInnis a Good Call
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 7:10 p.m. 1/8/07
The Bobcats made another roster move last Wednesday, and I must say I like it for several reasons. Most notably, Jeff McInnis adds another true point guard option to this roster with Brevin Knight out for a while. Raymond Felton is young, but continuing to log such heavy minutes in every game is only going to wear him down. Charlotte also runs into problems if Felton should get into foul trouble, forcing someone else less experienced or qualified to play the position in critical moments. This isn’t to suggest that no one other than Felton, such as Derek Anderson, can play the point even in limited action. They just aren’t true point guards and shouldn’t have to direct the offense for extended periods of time.
By trading Bernard Robinson for McInnis, the Bobcats fill an immediate need without giving up an essential player. In his third season out of Michigan, Robinson was averaging just 2.4 points and 2.0 rebounds and never developed into more than a reserve for the Bobcats. It was thought that when Kevin Burleson was cut before the start of the regular season that the 6-8 Robinson could log some minutes as the third option at the point, but he never proved to the coaching staff that he could handle the position. The addition of McInnis brings an experienced nine-year veteran who can provide leadership and advice, as well as another Tar Heel presence, to back up Felton. At 6-4 the Charlotte native can also play alongside Felton (or Knight when he returns) in the shooting guard spot. He did this effectively in Cleveland while playing in a backcourt with Eric Snow and/or LeBron James. McInnis is averaging 10.3 points and 4.5 assists for his career, so statistics dictate that he should be able to (and I think he will) contribute more to the team than Robinson.
McInnis played in his first NBA regular season game since the 2005-06 season against Orlando on Friday and a little rust was expected. He looked hesitant at times – probably from not knowing the plays yet – scoring two points (0-4 field goals, 2-2 free throws) and had one assist in 16 minutes. Nothing impressive, however his transition to the Bobcats should be made easier (than if he had gone elsewhere) since he lives in Charlotte, reportedly has a long lasting relationship with Bernie Bickerstaff and mentioned he has played with everyone on the roster except Adam Morrison. All of these factors can only help.
In regards to some fans that may be opposed to the trade due to hearing about McInnis’ past track record, I do not think he will be a problem. He seems to have grown up and attributed having a son as a big reason for this transition. He was also quoted as saying “I have brought some stuff on myself, I’ll admit that. I did stuff early in my career. I talked back to coaches, and I won’t deny it. Now I grew through it, and why is it coming back to haunt me now? Can’t a person move on? It’s kind of unfair, but I know I have to deal with it. I’ve been through it. Ultimately, I’m happy to be here. There’s no better feeling I have than to try and end my career here.”
I don’t know if he will retire with the Bobcats, but I am confident he will make an impact on this team.
A Memorable Week on the Court
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 8:17 p.m. 1/7/07
The Lakers game was probably the greatest and most exciting NBA game I have played in – three overtimes, the largest crowd in Bobcats history in attendance and we won. Now that's a night to remember.
We have actually had some success against the Lakers at home in the past. We beat them last year and the year before we lost at the buzzer by an unbelievable shot by #24, who at the time was #8.
I was very proud of our team for the effort it put forth during that game. It seemed like every possession someone on our team was making a big play on the offensive and defensive end. However each time the Bobcats hit a crucial shot, Kobe came down and found a way to match it. Once the game went into overtime, I could tell we were all thinking we cannot let this game slip away – we can win this. I know I was thinking about the Knicks game that we lost at the buzzer, so we were determined not let that happen again. At the start of the third overtime, I looked up into the crowd and the arena still packed with Bobcats fans and said to myself, "Wow, we might be playing all night and our fans are staying here to help us bring home the win.”
When the game finally ended, I was so excited but not just for our team but for our entire organization and our Bobcats fans. My grandparents, relatives and close friends were also in attendance, which was cool, and scoring my career-high with 27 points and Emeka grabbing his career-high with 25 boards was the icing on the cake.
After the game we jumped on a plane and headed to Indy to take on the Pacers. We knew the Pacers game was going to be a war because any back-to-back is tough, especially after a triple-OT game. Our team competed hard the entire game, and Adam (Morrison) set his career high with 30 points and we all played well to start our first win streak of the season, which is a nice feeling. Plane rides home are always much more fun following a win since everybody is in good spirits and excited about the win. Unfortunately, G-Force (Gerald Wallace) injured his shoulder, but hopefully he and BK (Brevin Knight) will be back in the lineup soon.
Our next game against the Timberwolves was a game where we all came out firing. During the first half it felt like every shot we took was going in. We jumped on the Wolves early and had a 20-point lead during the first half. But any team that has an all-star like KG (Kevin Garnett), can comeback from a first half lead of 20 points. Unfortunately, that is what happen and we kept fighting but just didn't have enough left in our tanks to pull the win out in the end. Ricky Davis and KG like to talk a lot of trash, and I'm not the biggest motor mouth but since we were winning and I was busting some jumpers, I had to yap back at them. Five games in 7 days is a tough stretch but I will say that the Bobcats left it all on the court and gave everything we had despite coming up short in a few games, including a tough loss in Orlando on Friday.
Until the next time we play, I wish all our fans health and happiness in 2007 and look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming games this year.
Happy to be Back in Action
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 9:21 p.m. 1/4/07
After missing six games over the last two weeks, I was excited to get back in action in Indiana. I probably could have waited a couple more days because it’s still a little sore, but I just wanted to get out there. I felt I was ready, and it took me a little while to shake some rust off – I missed a few shots, missed a couple rebounds and traveled right at the beginning of the game, but it felt pretty good. Then, when Gerald (Wallace) went down (in the fourth quarter), I knew I had to make some plays. I didn’t necessarily think it would be scoring, but the opportunities were there, stepped up and made some big plays and we got a great win out of it.
It was great to get back to Indiana, but my family was actually down here (in Charlotte) because of the home games and the holidays, but I had a lot of friends from high school and family friends come up and watch me play.
Going back to Indiana is always good, but it was nice to get back here for the New Year and play in front of the home crowd. It was a tough loss. Right now I’m still fighting a little rust, a little fatigue and am still a little bit sore and am just trying to get used to games again.
My body is slowly coming along – my ankle is slowly coming along, and now with this rest I feel like my body is really reacting and coming back into the form it was in before the injury. The break came at a good time, then right after Friday’s game (in Orlando), we have another four-day break before we play in Detroit. It’s a great time for us to heal up because we have a lot of guys – Emeka (Okafor) and Raymond (Felton) especially – who are logging a lot of minutes and getting beat up, and we’re without Gerald for who knows how long.
I’m willing to step up and get those extra minutes if (Head) Coach (Bernie Bickerstaff) is going to give them to me. I think Matt (Carroll) and I have started to find out where we fit into this rotation and have started to find our niche coming off the bench to provide a spark. Every game I want to go out there, be that spark and try to change the game in some way.
Another guy we’ll have coming off the bench now is Jeff McInnis. Jeff is a great dude. I’ve known him for a couple years, ever since I went to North Carolina. He’s always been around the program and always came back in the summertime to play pickup games. He’s from the Charlotte area, so I saw him quite a bit around here last year. He’s just a good guy. He gave his three years at Carolina and did some nice things.
It’s good to have another point guard here to help Ray out and give him those nights where he doesn’t have to play 45-48 minutes. It gets him back to that same mode we had when Brevin was in.
A Fan's New Year's Resolutions
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 2:47 p.m. 1/2/07
Like many of you, I make New Year's resolutions at the beginning of each calendar year. Whether it means doing more charity work, learning a new language or simply avoiding drinking a second glass of gravy with breakfast, I do my best to make sure that my resolutions have a positive impact on my life and the lives of those around me. This year, I have come up with a few Bobcats-related New Year's resolutions. By no means are these resolutions exclusive to me; in fact, I urge the Bobcats community to join me in my endeavors, none of which are likely to require you to cut back on your gravy intake, however much that may be.
My first resolution is inspired by the Bobcats’ stadium announcers, who typically refer to the home crowd as the “6th Man.” I will be following their lead by doing so at all times. However, I plan on taking it a step further and referring to additional “Mans” as follows: the concession stand shall be the 7th Man; the restroom is now the 8th Man; the hi-def scoreboard becomes the 9th Man; and the Rufus blimp will be the 10th Man. I’ll leave the christening of the 11th Man to the 6th Man, which should voice its collective opinion as loudly as possible during each 12th Man, or timeout.
As a general rule (and as a token of friendly competition), I resolve to institute a day-of-game boycott of all products and services related to the Bobcats’ opponents. For instance, when the Bobcats play Orlando or Miami, I will boycott all things Floridian in nature, such as oranges, Disney, and humidity. When the ‘Cats face off against, say, the Washington Wizards, I will boycott all three branches of the federal government, as well as wizardry and any related black arts, such as sorcery.
I resolve to lead peace talks between two hostile camps—those who advocate “G-Force” as the preferred nickname for Gerald Wallace, and those who support “Crash.” We as fans owe a consistent moniker to one of the most exciting players in the league. Compromise might be the best chance for an amicable resolution to this controversy, perhaps in the form of a third-party candidate. If neither “G-Force” nor “Crash” emerges as a clear victor, I resolve to return the voice to the people, who may choose a nickname via intense grass-roots campaigning. Early suggested nominees, should they be required: “Wrecking Ball Wallace,” “The Alabama Slammer,” and “Jackrabbit Slim.” ¡Viva la gente!
Feel free to adopt these resolutions as your own, Bobcats fans. While they have not been scientifically proven to positively affect the outcome of Bobcats’ games, they have not been scientifically proven to have a negative effect, either, and that’s good enough for me. Okay, that’s all for now. Go Bobcats! I’m off to the 8th Man.
Win Over Lakers One to Remember
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 9:30 a.m. 12/30/06
If you knew that Brevin Knight and Sean May were out with injuries, Adam Morrison made only 1-15 field goals, and Kobe Bryant scored 58 points for the Lakers, you would probably be thinking the Bobcats lost on Friday night. If so, you’d be wrong. The Bobcats won a thriller in their first triple-overtime game against Los Angeles 133-124 in front of a record crowd of 19,561. I’m glad that so many people were in attendance, because it means that more people saw what the Bobcats are capable of and where this franchise is heading – helping the fan base and support to grow.
I’m also really glad the game was televised so that I could see such an awesome display of basketball and probably one of the best games, if not the best, in Bobcats history. Raymond Felton would agree as he was quoted saying that “This was one of the best games in history. I'm glad I was a part of it."
After his monster game on Wednesday night, Gerald Wallace faced the task of shutting down Kobe – something that isn’t often done. I know Kobe scored 58 points, but Wallace did the best he could to contest every shot attempt including disrupting Kobe’s attempt to win the game at the end of regulation. Unfortunately for Charlotte, superstars just make difficult shots, and the Lakers star made a lot of them. As all basketball players know, being required to guard a great player at any level is tough and can physically drain you to the point where your offensive game suffers. Despite having to guard Kobe, one of the NBA’s best, Wallace still posted 28 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the first overtime – given what I just previously said, that is impressive.
Evidently Kobe hasn’t seen the commercials or gotten the memo from Adidas, his former endorser, that “It Takes Five” to win, not one. Due to good defense, the next highest scorer for the Lakers was Luke Walton with 14 points and only two more scored in double figures. This was not the case for the Bobcats, as Wallace had strong performances from his teammates to get the win.
Felton had 22 points and 15 assists and franchise-high 56:58 minutes played. Several of Felton’s assists came from Emeka Okafor as the Bobcats tandem abused the Lakers with pick-and-rolls and post-up plays that resulted in Okafor layups and thunderous dunks. I loved seeing these and hope that as time goes on the collaboration between these two players will grow (I definitely think it will) and become an effective staple of the franchise. Okafor had 22 points (10-15 field goals), a career-high 25 rebounds (also a franchise record) and four blocks. Matt Carroll also hit a career-high mark in scoring with 27 points, which included some very big shots down the stretch, to go along with eight rebounds off of the bench.
The game against the Lakers can only be summed up as an exciting, energy-driven shootout that continued to go back and forth until the Bobcats eventually pulled away. I am not going to forget this game for a while, and I am sure that other fans, as well as the players, feel the same way.
Wallace Puts it All Together
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 4:21 p.m. 12/29/06
Gerald Wallace is the man – a rare basketball freak, and I mean “freak” in a good way. Bobcats fans are well aware of his ability to play defense on almost anyone, but overall his offensive game seems to have been further behind in its development. Last season the 6-7 Wallace was forced to play out of position at power forward due to injuries to frontcourt teammates, such as Emeka Okafor and Sean May. This experience allowed him to expand his offensive low post arsenal while also living up to his defensive reputation and become the third player in NBA history (along with David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon) to average at least two blocks and two steals in a season.
Wednesday night against the Wizards, Wallace put it all together to create one heck of an offensive and defensive performance. He had 40 points (15-27 field goals), 14 rebounds, six steals and four blocked shots. Night-in and night-out, Wallace usually represents exactly what the Bobcats stand for – hustle, intensity and hard work. He’s the king of it! The man just seems to do whatever it takes and will relentlessly sacrifice his body, which is why I prefer the nickname of “Crash” to “G-Force.” It just makes more sense to me because it embodies how he plays, but back to the game. Wednesday night was something special – his performance was exceptionally impressive (and I’m guessing not just for the fans, but the players too). It was as if he was everywhere at every moment doing absolutely everything, and that is not an exaggeration. He disrupted passing lanes and swatted shots in a manner that demanded “OOOh’s!” from the crowd. Wallace also scored from outside and inside, where he was able to convert several times despite getting fouled. His improvement at free throw shooting allowed him to finish off the “and 1” plays as he made 10 of 11 attempts. Wallace also converted on a couple of absolutely spectacular alley-oop dunks in the heat of the game that had my friends and I, as well as the rest of the arena, jumping out of our seats. All of these make up the reasons that I feel bad and pity those fans (Bobcats supporters or not) that did not come to the game, because it was not televised and Wallace’s performance was awesome. If you haven’t seen highlights of the game, do yourself a favor and watch them.
Wallace just didn’t get quite enough help to rewrite the 114-107 loss against the high scoring Wizards. Raymond Felton played well with 22 points (7-10 field goals), eight assists, and three rebounds along with Okafor recording 14 points and 12 rebounds while Adam Morrison contributed 17 points and five assists off the bench. Most nights this might have been enough; however, after Felton fouled out with 3:23 left with Charlotte down 98-97, the Bobcats just couldn’t rally.
The Bobcats look to rebound and get a win in front of a sellout crowd at 7 p.m. tonight as they take on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Enjoy Your Time with Family
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 8:25 a.m. 12/24/06
As far as my ankle goes, things are going good. The prognosis was 7-10 days and I’ve started to run now. There’s still just a little bit of swelling and a little soreness that I’m just working to get out. Hopefully sometime right after Christmas I should be back - that would be a great Christmas gift. Right now I have to get a couple days at practice where I’m going full speed. I did some things at shootaround on Friday, but it’s not the same as the cutting, the moving and being taped without being sore. All that should clear up soon, and hopefully it will only be a couple more days before I’m back out there on the court.
I also want to take this opportunity to say I hope everybody out there has a great Christmas. The holidays are a special time for everybody, and there is no better time to spend some time with family. I hope everyone out there enjoys it to the fullest, because this is the greatest time of the year.
A Special Thanks to Our Fans
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 8:23 a.m. 12/24/06
I guess some of our Bobcats fans are probably not surprised that we beat the Utah Jazz, one of the NBA’s elite teams and lost to the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. I would be interested to know what the spread on our Utah game was because I doubt that the Bobcats were favored. It is frustrating when we let games like the Boston and New York game slip away when we had chances to win. But I have to be honest…I still am shocked that we lost a game with .01 seconds on the clock. I have never in my basketball career witnessed a game ending like that. Following a heartbreaking loss like the Knicks game as a player, you replay several plays and say “what if,” or “I should have,” or “why didn’t we,” but that is how any competitive athlete thinks after a loss. However, losing with .01 seconds will stay with you and make you think just a little longer then usual. I must say that when David Lee tipped the ball in the basket, I seriously was shocked and put my hands on my head and stood on the court for about a minute until I accepted and realized what just happened.
In attendance at the Garden were a few NBA legends like, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. After the game, MJ came in our locker room and gave our team some encouragement and told us to keep our heads up.
I can’t explain how good it felt for our team to get a win against Utah, especially after the way we lost to the Knicks. For me personally, I had a lot of fun that game and was excited that I could come in and score 16 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bobcats close out the win. I thought our entire team played very well and really battled hard, because Utah has a reputation for playing extremely hard because of their hard nosed coach, Jerry Sloan. Being a shooter, there is no better feeling than when you hit a couple shots in a row and get the confidence that every time you shoot the ball it is going in. Obviously, as a basketball player, you have to believe that you are going to make every shot that you take. But there is a different level that some people call being in the “zone” and when you are in the “zone” it is the best feeling ever. “Shoot to Get Hot and Shoot to Stay Hot”, is a quote that one of my college coaches (Rod Balanis) told me. I still say it to myself and have some of the kids at my summer basketball camps repeat.
I have to share this story with you because I was amazed when it happened. When I hit the and-one three-pointer and AK-47 (Andrei Kirilenko) fouled me, I hit him with my elbow in his mouth. I looked at him and his tooth was hanging out of his mouth, so he just pulled it out and threw his tooth to the sideline. Astonished, I said to him, “Are you okay?” AK-47 looked at me and said, “Yeah, it’s only a tooth.” And all I could think about was one of my favorite movies, Rocky IV, when the big Russian Drago fought Rocky. I thought the next trip down the court AK-47 was going to say to me, “I must break you.” The funny thing is that I have three cousins that were adopted from Russia. They apparently weren’t too happy that I knocked out one of their countryman’s teeth!
As for the Chicago game, I am not even going to discuss because it’s Christmas and I want to have a great, happy, fun filled Christmas with my family and when I think about that game I probably will get in a bad mood. Nobody likes a Grinch.
I would just like to wish all of the Bobcats fans who have supported us this season a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hopefully you all will continue to support us every day. We’re working hard every day to give you a team that you can be proud of both on and off the court. Your support for us hasn’t gone unnoticed, and we look forward to seeing everybody at some of our upcoming games over the holiday. I hope Santa Claus brings you everything on your list.
Looking Forward to Felton and Williams Matchup
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 4:15 p.m. 12/22/06
Last year, Raymond Felton received an increased amount of playing time as the season wore on and really capitalized on the opportunity. The rookie point guard really asserted himself during the second half of the season and averaged 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.44 steals which helped him to win three consecutive Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards to close the season.
Then “it” happened. I was watching ESPN and across the BottomLine ran the members of the NBA All-Rookie first team. No “Raymond Felton” appeared. I instantly called one of my buddies in disbelief and asked, “Did you hear about Felton? He got robbed by Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams – Deron Williams, are you kidding me?!?” Now in my opinion (then and now), Felton should’ve easily taken Williams’s spot, but to be fair (and unbiased) let’s consider last season’s averages – Williams: 10.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, .75 steals vs. Felton: 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals … hmmm, Felton outperformed Williams in every category and yet still doesn’t make the team? Something seems wrong here, but hey, maybe that’s just me.
Despite the loss of this accolade, Felton’s rookie campaign definitely showed he is capable of running the offense. In an away game against Cleveland last year, the UNC product had a very efficient 30 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and five steals…. wow. Felton has yet to have a complete game like that this year, but has had some solid performances (including a career-high 16 assists against the Knicks), so I believe a breakthrough game is possible. Through his desire and effort to improve in the offseason Felton has even managed to increase his numbers in basically every category that matters and is averaging 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. He will need to carry his fair share tonight as he faces another (I must say surprisingly) much improved player in Williams as the Bobcats take on the Jazz – arguably the surprise team of the season. The Jazz point guard has been a big reason in the franchise’s impressive 19-7 start, averaging 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists.
I am looking forward to the matchup of the two sophomore players and am eager for Felton (even though it may never cross his mind) to in some way avenge last year’s award mistake.
After all, Felton’s drive to win helped him to win a NCAA Championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels (over Williams’s Illinois team), so hopefully it can do the same for the Bobcats against the Jazz tonight.
Lee Added to Bobcats List
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 9:18 p.m. 12/21/06
For the first 57 minutes and 59.9 seconds of Wednesday night’s double-overtime nail-biter at The World’s Most Famous Arena, I actually enjoyed watching rising stud David Lee play for the Knicks. He plays hard, he plays smart, he’s athletic, and he rebounds extremely well—all admirable qualities in an NBA player. However, it was his soft touch around the rim in the last 10th of a second that finally did in the Bobcats and secured his spot alongside Boston’s Delonte West on the ‘Cats official list of Mortal Enemies.
If you watched the entire game, you know that the Bobcats once held a 19-point advantage, and at several points in the first half looked like they might bury the Knicks for good under a heaping mass of alley-oops and other such nifty baskets. Gerald Wallace was an absolute track star, beating every Knick down the court for easy buckets in what was, individually, his second straight stellar game. Ray Felton dished out 16 assists on the night, routinely splitting defenders on the pick and roll, getting into the lane, and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.
The Bobcats offense looked unstoppable early, piling on 63 points in the first 24 minutes. However, they only scored 46 points in the next 34 minutes. So, what happened? As far as I can tell, instead of attacking the basket as they had in the first half, the ‘Cats began settling for 18-foot jumpers. And, as any rec league coach will tell you, long shots make for long rebounds. Unfortunately, most of those long rebounds were being gathered by the Knicks (many by the Pernicious Mr. Lee) and converted into transition buckets on the other end before the Bobcats had a chance to recover defensively.
Still, the game remained close. But crunch time shot clock violations and other such turnovers would prove too much for the Bobcats to overcome. Too many times the offense relied on the first option, and when the first option didn’t have an open look, the system broke down and left the Bobcats improvising with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. While that’s a lot of time to improvise, it’s also a lot of time for young players to drift to low-percentage areas of the floor and get themselves out of rebounding position.
However, as always, the Bobcats battled until the final buzzer and should be proud of their efforts. Eventually, they’ll be the heartbreakers instead of the heartbreakees.
Other assorted thoughts on the game:
Get Well Soon, Sean
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 6:30 p.m. 12/21/06
Well Bobcats fans I’m sure that you’re about as disappointed as I am at this point knowing that Sean May is hurt again. Luckily his current ailment (sprained right ankle) isn’t related to his knees, which kept him from playing in 59 games last year. Hypothetically, even if May missed the rest of the season (don’t worry, he won’t), he would already have matched his 23 appearances from his rookie campaign, but we know he is supposed to be back 7-10 days from suffering the injury on Saturday. Until he gets back though, the Bobcats will surely miss his production and will need at least one (or many, based on the way he was playing) to step up their production. The situation is frustrating for May, the team, and fans given the circumstances.
After injury and surgery prevented the UNC product from playing the majority of his rookie season, he worked hard to rehab – aiming to come back even stronger and better than before. His dedication to this goal really showed in Orlando summer league play. Yeah, I know it’s “summer league” and who really cares about that when the competition isn’t very great to begin with, but May showed a glimpse of the player fans missed out on last season and what they could expect for this one. For starters, most people know May from college, where he was most often required to play with his back to the basket and stay in the post. Summer league opponents, however, got a good taste of his expanded arsenal. On offense, May was able to connect from just about anywhere on the court, effectively showcasing his newfound three-point range. On defense, the 6-9 forward was quick to his man as well as the ball, making several steals followed by agile plays to the opposite basket. His injured knee seemed to hold up well, he looked as if he had lost a little weight, and as a Bobcats fan, I had never seen him more versatile. He finished summer league play with 18.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game – good enough for a spot on the all-tournament team. In the NBA preseason, he averaged 13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds.
With all of that said, I was expecting big things from May and prior to this injury he delivered. Most notably, he has improved his field goal percentage (.409 to .509), free throw percentage (.766 to .831), points (8.2 to 12.4), and rebounds (4.7 to 6.5). After being held scoreless in consecutive games against Detroit and Miami, May went on a tear scoring 20, 21, 9, 17, 18, 7, 26, 15, and a career-high 32 points against Orlando on national television while averaging 8.5 rebounds over this span. His improved play has demanded respect from opponents – on one play against the Magic, he gave a quick head fake sending Dwight Howard into the air and providing a wide open lane to the basket for an easy lay-up. Even more impressive is that May is mostly producing at this level not as a starter (he has six starts this year), but as a reserve. The 32 points he scored against Orlando came in 31 minutes off the bench. The Bobcats will need May as they face a stretch of deep teams in late December, and I know all fans wish him a speedy recovery.
I'll Bounce Back
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 2:42 p.m. 12/18/06
I know everyone out there is wondering and probably worried about my ankle. Let me just start by saying there’s still a lot of swelling, so I have to go see Dr. Perry Tuesday morning and maybe have an MRI. When it first happened (on Saturday), our doctors told me 7-10 days, and Sunday they said it still may be that much time, but we don’t know yet.
It got pretty swollen Saturday night, and when I woke up on Saturday morning it was huge. At first when I was here on Saturday night I was walking around on it and it felt fine. They told me to go home on crutches just to be safe, but on Sunday I couldn’t walk on it and there was swelling all around the ankle.
Hopefully it’s not too bad, because the swelling should die down soon. The reason we’re not really sure how long is because sometimes the swelling can lead you to misread the injury. It may have a lot of swelling, but could come back and heal faster. So now it’s just a waiting game for the swelling to go down. It should go down in the next couple days, and I’ll be alright.
It’s a frustrating thing, but at the same time it’s part of the game. It would be different if it was a mysterious injury that just came about, but I came down on the back of Emeka (Okafor’s) foot, and that’s something that happens.
I tweaked my ankles in college, but there was only one game where they told me to sit out. We played Coastal Carolina, so it wasn’t really that serious. I’ve never had real bad ankle problems and have always bounced back fairly soon.
I just try not to get discouraged and try to stay positive – that always helps the healing process. Hopefully when I get back, I’ll still stay on that same pace that I was on before it happened.
It’s definitely a bad time to have happened. I was talking to my dad about it, and it’s just part of it. For whatever reason it happened, it happened. It’s the cards I was dealt, so I just have to deal with it.
It felt good to be playing the way I was – I just started to feel like I did in college again. It just came. It was just there. A lot of times you’re nervous going out there because you want to do everything right, but I was just playing. I wasn’t worried about anything… just using my instinct and playing the game I know how to play. I was doing what I knew how to do and it felt great. Hopefully after a week or so, I’ll get back out there and still do the same thing.
Working to Get Things Right
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 2:21 p.m. 12/13/06
Tonight we square off against Cleveland. We just have to keep pushing and plugging away and we’ll start to play better. On the floor and in between those lines it is just us, and that is kind of the mentality that we have to have. I think things will turn around, but it is going to take time, it is going to take a lot of hard work. Everything that it is going to take to get better – we just have to do it and stop talking about it.
The game we played against Houston wasn’t indicative of how we play, and against Phoenix I thought we came out with a good energy level. They just pulled away from us in the third quarter, and those lapses are what we have to fix if we want to be the team that we talked about in the beginning of the season. I think we might have gotten ahead of ourselves a little bit, but now we just have to keep plugging away and remember what has happened in the past without dwelling on it.
Times like this are when you unite as a team and that is what we did at Carolina – we embraced each other, and hopefully the same will happen here.
The fans have been great, continuing to support us. Even after the Houston game, they still came out to our next game and had a lot of enthusiasm. We feed off of them and they have done a great job. We owe it to them to put out a better product on the court. We will work on providing a few more wins for them.
I feel like I am playing a little bit better and each and every game you want to get better – both individually and as a team. Having a great game in a loss, especially when you lose by 20-25 points doesn’t matter much to me. For me I am in a flow and I am getting my minutes and some experience out of this – I guess that is one of the positives, even though we haven’t been playing our best lately.
Iverson Not the Right Fit Right Now
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 12:17 p.m. 12/11/06
After the Bobcats most recent homestand, I’ve read few posts by Bobcats fans in different places for Charlotte to try and trade for the Philadelphia 76ers Allen Iverson. Overall the reactions have bothered me, and I felt obligated to stick up for the team. Fans are misguided thinking that we need to get Iverson or that we are even capable of landing him. He is going to want to go a team that he can possibly win a championship with, such as Minnesota. A.I. can still play, is a heck of a talent, and plays with a lot of heart, but he is only getting older and is owed roughly $19 and $20 million each of the next two years. Trading for him would effectively undo the smart cap decisions Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff has made.
The Bobcats have their point guard of the future in Raymond Felton and don't need another scorer who requires shots because they already have Adam Morrison. I know the former Gonzaga star has been inconsistent, but he is going through some growing pains and you have to allow him time to transition to the NBA. It is unfair at this point to expect 20 points a night from him, especially when he faces a good defender (i.e. Bruce Bowen Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier) on most nights. Adding Iverson would change the offense to go through him and change the way Charlotte runs things. It would also drastically shake up the roster – most likely taking away some of our young core players – which wouldn’t help win games.
The Bobcats latest losses haven’t been pretty, but some nights the ball just doesn't fall – anyone who plays basketball knows that. You shouldn't base your perception of the team and coach on one or two games when they have had some quality wins against the league's best – Cleveland, San Antonio, and Detroit. This franchise has made the right moves as far as building around draft picks and not overspending for free agents, which can easily come back to haunt you later. With the team’s salary cap situation as it stands, they will be in position to pursue a veteran free agent to add to the core already in existence this summer. Fans need to be more patient with this team – after all they are only in their third year!
Confidence Growing as of Late
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 8:00 a.m. 12/6/06
Today it’s time to get ready for our game against San Antonio, following a big win over the Pistons. We played well Sunday night against Detroit and got a big win. It is a great confidence builder when you beat a team like Detroit who has won championships and has MVP-type players on their team. Coming out with a win the way we did, where it was a collective effort, is a special thing. The starting guys came out and set the tone early, Matt Carroll came in and gave us a huge lift off of the bench and I just tried to do my part.
I have been feeling more comfortable lately as I am really starting to understand my role on the team better. I think it is showing in my play, hopefully it will be something I can continue throughout the season. I think another big difference in my play has been I have just been going out there and playing – I am just losing myself in the game and having fun. That is what I did in college, I never worried about numbers or where I got my shots from, I just went out there and played. I think sometimes in the league you can get lost with how you are doing individually and I am just trying to go out there and help anyway I can, whether it is getting 10-15 rebounds or going in there and making shots.
It was important for us to come out and play well because when you come home off the road, you can tend to relax a little bit more because you can tend to get too comfortable because your surroundings are more familiar.
We have some tough games coming up, starting tonight, so it will be a good chance for us to build off of this last win and beat some of these teams.
How About That?
-- Bobcats assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff | 8:54 p.m. 12/5/06
Well how about that -- four of our five wins have come against teams that have been considered contenders for this year’s championship. So what does that say about us? A lot!
As usual, we have been in the majority of our games and a key play down the stretch has been our downfall. If you look at the games that we have won, we have been solid down the stretch. Looking around the league and watching as many games as we do, you notice that the majority of the games come down to the fourth quarter because so many different things can happen. You are never really out of a game in this league.
For example, take our game at Atlanta when we were down by 24 points and rallied to cut the lead to just three with the ball. One more stop or one shot goes down, and we win that game. Now take our win over Detroit in the fourth quarter – we made big plays, and they weren’t always the shot; they might have been the pass that leads to the shot. For example, Derek Anderson – who I will talk more about – made a drive to the middle of the floor drawing extra defenders and left Raymond (Felton) open at the top of the floor for a wide-open jump shot. Raymond made the shot, but it was the penetration and kick that was the play. Things like that may seem subtle, but they are the difference in basketball games.
Also key in these games has been the performance of our bench. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the play of Matt (Carroll) and Sean (May) coming off the bench and giving us a spark here and there. These are two guys who have adjusted themselves to coming off the bench and are now comfortable enough to know what they need to do still help this team win games. That’s one of the things that you enjoy about coaching basketball. Initially it is tough coming off the bench for some guys when they have been starters all their lives so they may struggle at times, but then when the light comes on and they figure it out – as coach, that’s what makes you feel good, when you see guys click and succeed.
Another subtle part of the game was the play of Othella Harrington. When you look across the stat sheet, nothing might jump out at you, but his presence and his calming demeanor were there to help us through some rough spells. He is one of the best team defensive players in this league. It might not show with steals or blocks, but he is the middle linebacker of our defense – pointing and talking, communicating and filling gaps – and against a team like Detroit with all of its offensive abilities, you need a guy like that in the hole to protect.
Something new that we have here and is going to help us in fourth quarters is a nice blend of the new and the old. When I say that I mean our young guys combined with a nice mix of some veterans to help when things get rough. For our first couple of years Brevin had the sole responsibility of being the guy with all the experience, but now with the addition of Derek and Othella, it takes some of the weight off of his shoulders so he can do what he does best – which is make his teammates so much better.
Derek is a guy who has been around the league and seen a lot of different things. He has the ability to score and has really impressed us with his ability to defend. In that game against Atlanta when it looked like Joe Johnson could do no wrong, we subbed Derek in and he pretty much shut Joe down. He has also been a blessing to our younger guys in the locker room and after practice. His work ethic and his professionalism will shine and will give our guys another opportunity to watch and learn what it takes to be a pro.
We have a tough week on our hands now. We’ve got some of the NBA’s best coming to town and we have shown that we are capable of beating the best, so let’s get it on. See you there.
If We Only Knew
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 2:26 p.m. 12/4/06
Last night we had a big win against the Detroit Pistons, and the bench really came in and gave the team a big boost. Sean May scored 17 points, Derek Anderson chipped in with 11 points, and I had 16 points to help bring home the victory. The first game we played in Detroit over a week ago (on November 24), we played well, hung in until the last couple minutes and proved that we could play with them (in a 104-95 loss). On Sunday we showed we can beat them.
After the game, the big question I kept getting from the media was “Why have the Bobcats been successful against the NBA’s elite teams?” We all have a few ideas, like we obviously get fired up to play against the best, we feel disrespected by the elite teams and we are trying to gain respect in this league since we are still considered an expansion team. However, I do not think there is one specific answer -- simply put, we have played well against the NBA’s better teams this year for whatever reason, but we are winning against them.
It is always a tough task when you have to guard an All-Star caliber player like Rip Hamilton, who is probably the best guard in the league at moving without the ball and using screens. One thing I learned about Rip on Sunday was that he has very long fingernails and likes to use them a lot. I have scratches up and down both arms, my back and neck. I have never been covered in scratches like this, even when I wrestle with my dog Rudy, who is a boxer and uses his paws constantly. But he has never clawed me up like Rip did.
Superstition is a word defined as the irrational belief that future events are influenced by specific behaviors, without having a causal relationship. I think most people are superstitious whether they want to believe it or not, especially when involved in sports. For example, if someone asked me if I was superstitious, I would say no. Although, after I dislocated my finger in the Orlando game, I was worried that it was going to be difficult to shoot because I had to wear a double splint on my fingers. Over the past couple of weeks I feel my level of play has really picked up and my shooting touch has improved since I have been wearing the finger splint. I still cannot bend my finger very much yet but even if I could, I think I would continue to wear the splint because I have shot the ball well with it on.
After our win at home against Boston (on November 22) a lot of people kept telling me that my family who was visiting for Thanksgiving was the good luck charm. Also, during our shoot around before the Boston game Michael Jordan was talking a little trash to me, and to be honest I didn’t have much to say back considering he won six NBA titles (in which he won the NBA Finals MVP in each), five NBA MVPs in the regular season, and just about every award available in the NBA. Did I mention that he is the best player in the history of the league? Needless to say, I didn’t have many options for a good comeback. I will admit that MJ did get me fired up and my level of play has been better since then.
The ironic thing is that I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, do you?
Bobcats fans, thanks for all your support last game. We needed your energy to bring home the win against the Pistons. We’ll see you at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as we take on the San Antonio Spurs.
Home on the Range
-- Bobcats Public Relations Coordinator Pete Sousa | 12:20 p.m. 12/3/06
After last Saturday’s loss to Miami, the team got in a few practices and shipped off on a three-game road trip to Jersey, Atlanta and D.C. Being the young guy on the PR squad, I stayed back and held things down at the home office, as elder statesman and first-time father (he and wife Margo welcomed their first child Matthew on October 18) Vice President of Public Relations Scott Leightman took to the road.
After a flurry of home games, it’s always weird when the team is on the road. Although there is more work when they’re around, you miss the up-tempo vibe that practices and games deliver. You also miss being around when Brevin (Knight) is talking about how the Giants are headed to the Super Bowl while they’re in the middle of a three game slump?!? Or how Adam (Morrison) will watch Gonzaga play in the locker room postgame, while other players are giving interviews, and offer up (loudly) advice for his former Zags or the game’s refs. This actually happened, and both media and his teammates found it pretty funny. But that’s Adam’s love for hoops and loyalty to his school in a nutshell.
Yeah, you get a little more time when the guys are gone, but you always miss the day-to-day stuff, especially early in the season. I’ve found that this is the time a team gels and builds camaraderie -- early on. And these guys get tight. Seeing Jason Kapono (member of inaugural 2004-05 Bobcats) return with the Heat and noticing Gerald and Brevin lighting up before the game when they saw him says it all. Eighty-two games is a long time, so you gotta believe there is a family feel that comes about with these guys. I was happy to take it all in again at practice yesterday when they returned.
Bobcats Face Tough Schedule in December
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 1:34 p.m. 12/1/06
According to T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month. However, Mr. Eliot has been dead for over 40 years, and thus can not be trusted to evaluate the relative month-by-month cruelty of the Bobcats’ 2006-07 schedule. In my opinion, which is inarguably more recent and applicable to this discussion, December is the cruelest month, and not just because it is the month in which Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” annually poisons the airwaves.
The ‘Cats are coming off a tough (but not cruel, mind you) late November stretch in which they played last season’s top two Western Conference teams (Spurs and Mavs) and top three Eastern Conference teams (Heat, Pistons, Nets), as well as the East’s current top team (Magic) and another Western Conference playoff-caliber team (Hornets) -- all within a two-week span.
However, December looks positively brutal, with the Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Magic, Jazz, Lakers, and Pistons all coming to Charlotte -- though thankfully not at the same time. The Bobcats also have notably difficult road games scheduled in Cleveland, Dallas, Indiana, and Chicago (who I expect to have righted the ship by the time the Bobcats pull into town).
This may not seem like good news for a team that has started out slowly, but one of the great things about sports is its relativity. Team achievement is not measured in a vacuum, but in context. While Charlotte has stumbled a bit out of the gate, so has nearly every other team in the East. In fact, heading into Friday’s games, only four Eastern Conference teams are over .500, and only one and a half games separates the bottom eight teams -- one of which is guaranteed to make the playoffs.
If the Bobcats can stay strong throughout December and remain within a stone’s throw of the currently muddled wasteland that is the Eastern Conference playoff picture, they should have opportunities to make up ground against several of the league’s lesser powers in January and February when they play the Knicks, Hawks and Raptors twice apiece, the 76ers thrice, and the Bucks and Trailblazers once each.
I acknowledge that it may seem a little early to talk about the playoffs, but the fact that such discussion seems premature illustrates my point -- all is not lost after a rough beginning, especially when you play in this year’s Eastern Conference.
Therefore, December, though cruel, becomes a crucial month for the Bobcats if they want to inspire playoff whisperings in Charlotte. And until I hear otherwise from T.S. Eliot himself, I will assume that he is hereby convinced of December’s ultimate cruelty and embarrassed to have ever suggested anything to the contrary.
Establishing Identity Again
-- Bobcats assistant coach Jeff Capel | 1:30 p.m. 11/29/06
I think an important thing that has happened recently is that we have gotten our identity back. Guys have really responded to what we have asked of them in practice, while it hasn't resulted in wins there has been progress -- as you saw last night, the wins will come as long as we keep progressing in the right direction.
It is big going into the road trip knowing the team has started to grasp the identity we want the Bobcats to have -- that we are going to be scrappy, that we are going to play hard and that there will not be a night off. We are playing well, so we are looking forward to getting out there. I think some people when they see our record are overlooking the fact that we have a very tough early schedule not that we are looking for a break -- we welcome the challenge.
We would like to at least get two wins on this road trip. We are just getting Primoz Brezec back, which I think has been a huge void in our team and not just because of his size, but his ability to score also. Just getting him back on this trip will help us out tremendously.
I also work a lot with Gerald and I think he is starting to become Gerald again. He has been slowly getting back to form since his terrible fall in the first game. He is back to taking chances and playing above the rim. He is starting to feel comfortable with himself again, I think and starting to do the kamikaze things we want him to do.
All in all, the progress this team has made has been good.
Looking To Turn It Around
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 3:40 p.m. 11/28/06
I am looking forward to playing tonight and hopefully having a breakout game. I know I have to do a better job. I have had three bad games in a row now, so I will be looking to turn things around.
The last few games I have been thinking too much. I talked to (Head Coach) Bernie (Bickerstaff) about it, and I just have to play -- I know what I can do. I am just going to try to get back to doing what I was doing before -- taking open shots, making plays and just doing a better job individually to help the team out.
With that said, we as a whole are putting ourselves in good positions to win basketball games. We still just have to close them out better. If we get beat at the buzzer then that is something different, but we are in the game in the fourth quarter and we are letting leads go.
We also have to do a better job at shooting the ball. It will come over time, but we are getting good looks, so it is important to knock them down. If we can get Adam (Morrison) started early it will help open things up. Him and Emeka -- it is important to get both of them going early. When Emeka gets going at both ends of the floor at the beginning of the game, everyone else feeds off of it.
On a side note, UNC lost to Gonzaga recently, but Adam has done a good job of respecting the fact that it was only one game in the beginning of the season and hasn't rubbed it in too much. When I played for UNC the year we won the National Championship we lost to Santa Clara early on, so things happen. UNC has a good team -- they will be fine.
It is not where you start it is where you finish. And the same applies to us, the season is long and I know we can rebound from the slow start. We will try to come back from this road trip with a few wins and build some momentum.
Morrison Breaking Out
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 8:38 p.m. 11/27/06
It is a shame that Adam Morrison’s play did not prevent the Bobcats from earning a win in Saturday’s 102-93 loss to the Heat, but his efforts will not go unnoticed (after all, there was a sellout crowd in attendance). Morrison had arguably his best game as a pro, tallying 27 points (9-20 field goals), three rebounds and five assists. I think this was his coming out performance.
Now, I know you might be saying, “What about the game against the Spurs?” Morrison played great that game and to his credit he went against a great defender in Bruce Bowen as well – Saturday night’s production was different though. In a game where most shots simply weren’t falling for the Bobcats and Emeka Okafor (nine points, 11 rebounds) was held in check with foul trouble, Morrison carried the burden of being the go-to guy. “Spokane’s Most Wanted” (as he jokingly proclaims in an NBA Live 07 commercial) stepped up to the challenge.
He asserted himself when he felt he needed to and took advantage of the mismatches the Heat roster presented – evidence of a developing killer instinct which all great scorers need. Morrison didn’t hesitate to shoot when open or create his own shot like he has in past games. He scored from inside the paint, along the baseline, behind the three-point line, and from the free throw stripe – reminding me of some of the shots he made at Gonzaga.
If Adam had a little more help from others who consistently produce (outside of Gerald Wallace – 14 points and 11 rebounds), things probably would have gone differently for the Bobcats. As the rookie with the mustache continues to get acclimated to his new surroundings, the chances that he will have a good game the same night as the likes of Okafor, Raymond Felton and Wallace are only going to increase – a good sign for the Bobcats.
On a random note, the Bobcats organization continues to do a good job of keeping fans entertained during game breaks. Whether it is with the kiss cam, T-shirt tosses, (my brother actually got one), seat section volleyball or viewing the adventures of Air Rufus – an inflated version of the mascot who manages to startle people of all ages, people seem to be getting a good laugh.
Good to be Home
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 12:09 p.m. 11/20/06
Well, we are back home and looking forward to our game tonight against Dallas. For the most part out road trip went pretty well. We would like to have had a better outcome than 1-2, but it is a long season. We have done a pretty good job of handling things -- we would just like to be able to turn it on and give our fans a little bit better result, because we know they'll have the intensity turned up for us tonight.
We've had our ups and downs so far this season. We've played two good games and got two wins out of them against the Cavs and Spurs. There has also been some games where we should have won but we didn't closed them out. We are still young and are still learning, but at the same time that's not an excuse.
We just want to start to get hot, get a win streak going and get some W’s in the win column. Beating the defending Western Conference Champions would be a good place to start.
See you all there.
Okafor Still the Best Choice
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 4:21 p.m. 11/17/06
A few weeks ago, two of my friends and I were watching the Phoenix Suns play the L.A. Clippers on ESPN. During a game break they aired a highlight package of games from around the league. One play from the Orlando Magic vs. Chicago Bulls game clearly (and quite literally) rose above all the others. Dwight Howard of the Magic rejected a high arching layup attempt at its peak – he had to tilt his head to avoid hitting it on the backboard – and sent the ball into the stands. It should be noted at this point that I am big Emeka Okafor fan and was ecstatic when I knew he would fall to Charlotte at the number two spot in the 2004 NBA Draft after Howard was taken first. Back to real time though… My friend, still amazed by the Howard block (as was I), proposed the following question: Who would you rather have, Okafor or Howard?
I didn’t even hesitate to say Emeka, and my quick response led my friends to wonder if I was just being bias since he is a Bobcat (not that they aren’t fans of him themselves) so I was compelled to defend my answer. On the court, I believe that Okafor’s experience at the University of Connecticut – which has a winning program and one that he won a NCAA Championship with – helps him immensely on the court. Unlike Howard, I feel Okafor knows how to win and probably has a better grasp of the game due to his past experience. While Howard was playing high school kids, Okafor was competing against more polished players from top Division I programs and dominating. Due to this factor, Okafor’s game is more refined. He seems to have a mature view on the game to go along with an improving repertoire of low post moves and an uncanny ability to block shots.
Off the court, he is also a good role model (not to imply that Howard is not) which is the type of player the Bobcats want in their organization. He graduated early in three years from UConn with a degree in finance and a 3.8 grade point average. That’s an impressive feat even if you’re not playing Division I basketball.
In my experience, Okafor is a nice guy as well. During the Bobcats inaugural season, four friends and I went to the Charlotte Coliseum to see them play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately unlike this year’s game, LeBron James dominated and Charlotte lost, so I can imagine the players were not in the best of moods. After the game though my friends and I were able to find the back entrance outside where the players left the arena. Okafor was one of the last players to leave, but he gladly gave autographs to all of us and even engaged in brief conversation despite having no obligation to do so. I, as well as other fans I am sure, can appreciate something like that.
Despite all of these things, the overall consensus up to this point (at least within the media) is that Howard was the better pick and is the better pro. However, I think that this is a quick and unfair assumption to make. Okafor has been greatly limited by injuries preventing him from showcasing what he is capable of, and when he was relatively healthy, he beat out Howard for the 2004-05 Rookie of the Year award.
Howard is a very talented, incredibly athletic player, but is not as fundamentally sound as Okafor. Should you happen to be a Bobcats fan and aren’t living under a rock, you are well aware that Okafor has been dominant thus far and no one, including the likes of Tim Duncan, is safe. On the season, Emeka is averaging 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, and a league leading 4.13 blocks per game. Howard averages 14.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks so the Bobcats power forward/center is strongly making a case that he is the better player. I believe he is, and if it were up to me to decide I would rather have Okafor.
After an impressive win against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, fans will get to form their own opinions on the Okafor vs. Howard debate as the Bobcats (2-6) look to continue their winning efforts at 7 p.m. Saturday on the road at Orlando (6-3).
Owning the Mustache
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 2:40 p.m. 11/15/06
By now you have probably noticed that Adam Morrison sports facial hair of some renown. While facial hair experimentation is fairly common among the current crop of NBA players (see, for example, Rasheed Wallace’s beard, Jason Kapono’s sideburns, Ricky Davis’s chin music, Scot Pollard’s mutton chops, and LeBron James’s unfortunate 2006 Playoffs neck beard, also known as the “Neard”), Morrison’s mustache has captured the attention of the NBA and its fans like few of its predecessors.
Indeed, I would suggest that Morrison’s mustache has the potential to become the facial equivalent of Allen Iverson’s revolutionary corn rows (which have gradually morphed into a longer corn row mullet, or “corn rullet,” if you will) and Kobe Bryant’s mini-fro, had Kobe stuck with it.
So, why has the Mustache Movement gained so much momentum so quickly? Great question. I’ll tell you.
- Degree of Difficulty
The mustache has taken a beating over the last 10-15 years, as the goatee, the full beard, and the “Too Cool for School” shadow beard have each taken turns captaining the Good Ship Facial Hair through fashion’s fickle waters, while the Mustache has been relegated to the ship’s bowels, amidst “Magnum, P.I.” fans and the 1981 Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen, a chastised remnant of yesteryear’s follicular miscalculations. Resurrecting the mustache shows true fortitude, as Morrison is venturing into what was once the exclusive domain of police officers and men who airbrush beach scenes onto the sides of their vans.
- Empirical Results
As opposed to the more amorphous beard or goatee, the mustache is universally defined. Therefore, Morrison’s results can be unequivocally verified as soon as we see an arena full of nose-hamsters. Wouldn’t it be fun to take an official mustache door count for each game?
A mustache starts out as ungainly, but it only grows stronger with time. It is a testament to endurance in the face of seemingly impossible odds, and it has the ability to unite a team, a city, and a fan base. The mustache is a silent rallying cry that simultaneously says “You were driving awful fast back there,” and “You wanna go check out my posters?”
The opportunities created by the ‘stache are literally (figuratively) endless. For instance, the organization could embrace Morrison’s mustachery to an even greater degree than it already has by holding mustache-themed promotional nights.
How about giving anyone with a mustache a discount at the concession stand (“Stache for Cash”)? Furthermore, the cultural ramifications are potentially tremendous. If the Bobcats would settle on a team-wide policy of mandatory mustachitude, they would be poised to become the most influential athlete-fashionista trendsetters this side of David Beckham and Kurt Rambis.
Believe it, Bobcats fans. The time is now. Wear your team pride on your sleeves -- or in this case, your upper lips.
May Wanting to Turn Things Around Quickly
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 3:30 p.m. 11/14/06
I am looking forward to tonight's game against the Hornets, because it will give us an opportunity to start to turn things around. I am still trying to adjust since I have only played 29 games in my two years in the NBA, but for the most part I feel real good, my body feels good -- no aches or pains.
We are really looking to put out a good effort tonight. For us to improve we have to stick together more. We have been making mistakes and we are going to make mistakes -- we are a young team, but we really need to play as a unit. It is important for us to let our leaders lead and then everyone else just fit into their place.
We lost both games last year to the Hornets and I missed both of them. I am hoping I can just go out there tonight and produce and try to help us start the road trip off on the right foot.
Season Still Young
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 10:30 a.m. 11/13/06
This past weekend was a rough one for the Bobcats, dropping two games at home to Seattle and Denver. Neither game was a blowout by any means -- Charlotte just simply could not put everything together. A variety of missed shots and too many turnovers ultimately did them in.
There were some bright spots though, beside the general highlight plays – Raymond Felton was able to return against the Nuggets (although in limited action) and Emeka Okafor continued to show almost no limit to his dominance. On Friday he had 20 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks and followed that performance by posting 22 points, 15 rebounds and three rejections. That is about as consistent as a fan could ask for, and hopefully it will continue on the road Tuesday at 8 p.m. against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
Even though the Bobcats 1-5 record might not be impressive right now, the season is young and there is still a lot for fans to look forward to.
If you’re a fan (and I presume you are if you’re reading this), you need to come out and support the team. I can tell you from personal experience that seeing the games on TV just isn’t as fun as being there. No, this isn’t a plug to help sell season tickets, but I do have an agenda. I believe that the more support Charlotte and areas outside of the city show towards the team, the better off the Bobcats will be on the court.
If you were a player, wouldn’t you want to play in front of sellout crowds? Would you not thrive off of that adrenaline and play with more motivation? The Bobcats are a better team than their record indicates, and if you want to support the team in person, here are five games that I recommend heading into the holidays (since I don’t have room to write about them all):
Monday, November 20 vs. Dallas
Wednesday, December 6 vs. San Antonio
Friday, December 8 vs. Houston
Sunday, December 10 vs. Phoenix
Thursday, December 14 vs. Orlando
-- Bobcats guard Matt Carroll | 2:00 p.m. 11/10/06
I’m back -- MC, #13, Icy-White, Air-Carroll, Stroke, MC-Hammer or whatever else you want to call me -- but regardless, I am back on Blog Squad 2.0 and ready to give everyone the 411 on your Bobcats.
It is kind of amazing how many nicknames you attain over the years when you spend hundreds of hours in a locker room, on a plane, on the court, or just being around a bunch of characters that you find on professional sports teams.
As many of you already know, we added a few more different personalities to the Bobcats this season, making us even more of an interesting mix. I don’t think people realize the kind of thought process, preparation, foresight and vision that goes along with trying to assemble a basketball team. Before I got to the NBA I ignorantly thought that most GM’s just looked for the best players they can find at each of the five positions (PG, SG, SF, PF, C) and tried to find three players at each position composing a team of 15 players. But after being around the NBA for over three years and spending the majority of my career with the Bobcats, I have had an opportunity to see Bernie Bickerstaff assemble a group of men that he feels will make the best possible team. I have learned that means teams who have 15 great one-on-one players, 15 accurate shooters or 15 high flyers, does not necessarily result in a great team.
I would think the majority of basketball fans realize that most great teams have players that possess different skills that all fit a piece of the puzzle.
Actually it's more complicated than that -- personalities, attitudes, toughness, willingness to win, unselfishness and many other characteristics need to be taken into consideration when devising a team. This has been one of the things that has impressed me about Head Coach and GM Bernie Bickerstaff. The more I get to know each player on our team, the more I can see how similar we all are in the simple fact that we are all winners and have been winners for most of our lives. On the other hand, I can see how we all are different in many ways, regarding our personalities and role. Guys on this team realize that we all can’t be a starter and we all can’t average 20 points a game. Each player has to learn to accept his role whether we like it or not because it is for the best of the team.
What I have realized over the years is that every player on the team needs to be on the same page, because one bad attitude can ruin an entire team. If you look at the top teams in the NBA, they all have great team chemistry, mixed with talent and players that all fulfill a different role on the team. The point I am trying to make here is I want our fans to look deeper into our team and realize that more goes into putting together a team than what you read in the paper or see in the box score.
On Wednesday night, the Celtics broke our hearts again, similar to how they did the same thing last year when Paul Pierce hit a shot at the buzzer to beat us. This time it was Delonte West, who I know since my brother Pat was teammates with him at St. Joe’s for three years, but obviously he didn’t take that into consideration when he drilled the game winning shot.
I enjoy playing in Boston because I think their fans are passionate about sports. The night before the game I had a good dinner at a restaurant called Grill 23 with two of the Bobcats veteran players, Jake Voskuhl and Othella Harrington. I always learn a few things about the NBA and life in general when I hang with the older veterans because they have been around longer -- and they both played in the Big East, so they have to be good players.
Well, it's time for my pregame nap, so I will see you all at the game tonight against the Sonics.
Should This One Have Slipped Away?
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 1:18 p.m. 11/10/06
Let me start by saying it is nice to hear the Bobcats are doing what they can to be involved in, connected to, and impact the Charlotte community. This team, unlike some others, consists of good character people. My applause to Raymond Felton for deciding to be involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters -- it is nice to see people in his position giving back and helping youth.
I’m sure everyone is aware of the recent loss to Boston. I really thought the Bobcats would get a win on Wednesday despite being on the road. I simply saw no one on the Celtics roster who could stop Emeka Okafor (assuming he didn’t contain himself with foul trouble) and as it turned out, no one did. Okafor finished with a monster 28 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks. He just keeps throwing them back, and the one against Paul Pierce in the fourth was nasty -- see what we were missing last year?!?
Despite some good individual performances by Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak (35 points apiece) and Felton leaving the game in the third quarter due to injury, the Bobcats came back in the fourth (as they have in the past) and managed to get the game into overtime before losing at the buzzer. Here’s what bothers me -- we still could’ve won. On the final play, Delonte West caught the ball and immediately lost his balance when his left foot slipped. He kept his right foot stationary though (as his pivot foot) and leaned forward with the ball securely in his hands to the point where the ball touched the court. West then regained his balance and took a dribble – I believe the play should have ended right there (before the pass to Pierce and getting it back for the game winning shot) because by rule that is a double dribble.
At no point did he fumble the ball -- he had control. Double dribble = turnover = Bobcats ball with a chance to win or at worst go to a second overtime. To anyone who plays or watches basketball you are probably familiar with this rule (I actually recall it being called on Shaquille O’Neal last season in the playoffs) and yet none of the media outlets that I have seen even brought it up!
It’s frustrating, but the Bobcats are very capable of bouncing back especially with the home crowd behind them against Seattle and Denver this weekend. First up they host the Sonics (1-4) tonight at 7 p.m. They’ll be without Felton, but Adam Morrison gets his first start. The Bobcats will need his scoring and need to limit Seattle’s shooters, most notably Ray Allen, to get their second win.
Bobcats Get A Lesson From Vets in Loss
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 7:11 p.m. 11/9/06
On a Wednesday night when buzzer-beater knockout punches were en vogue around the Association, the Bobcats took one on the chin from Delonte West, sending the Celtics to their first win of the young season. One aspect of the game that I found particularly intriguing was how the Celtics top two scorers (The Alliterative Paul Pierce and The Vowel-Hating Wally Szczerbiak) approached the Bobcats’ defense, which had been leading the league in opponents’ field goal percentage entering the game.
Pierce and Szczerbiak filled up the scoring column (35 points apiece) by (1) identifying and exploiting defensive mismatches, and (2) receiving the ball in great offensive position. When guarded by Adam Morrison, Szczerbiak exploited his strength advantage by driving straight to the rack or establishing himself deep in the post. When Gerald Wallace checked him, Wally-World took advantage of Wallace’s tendency to play the passing lanes and offer defensive help in the paint by simply ball-faking or passing away, then drifting to a vacant spot on the three-point line for an open look. At one point in the third quarter, Szczerbiak buried three consecutive treys by doing little else.
Similarly, Pierce found himself guarded by a much smaller Raymond Felton for a series of possessions, and he took advantage by going straight to the post and backing down Felton. By the time Pierce received the ball, he was deep enough to get an easy layup or draw a foul. Call it craftiness, savvy, wherewithal, or some combination of the three (cravvwithal?), but the Celtic vets knew where to be, and they knew how to get there. It’s another lesson the Bobcats are sure to learn in time.
Other game notes:
A Good Feeling
-- Bobcats assistant coach John-Blair Bickerstaff | 11:12 a.m. 11/8/06
Three games into a new season and I am proud to say I have a good feeling about this year. Our record may not be where we had hoped, but we seem to have been able to correct the problems that we had in our first two games.
In both of those games we had double figure leads and couldn't secure them. The problem in both of those games wasn't our opponent -- it was what we were doing to ourselves. It’s a problem that, with focus, you can easily cure. If it was the competition, then you have something to worry about, but when it is the problem with us turning the ball over or allowing second shots, we can fix those things with practice.
That’s what we did. We put the emphasis on rebounding and securing the basketball after shots or on loose balls. In the Indiana game and the Memphis game we were in control of both of them for at least three quarters, had lapses with the basketball and gave our opponent confidence and easy opportunities. At this level you can not afford to give your opponent those two things and expect to win ball games.
The difference we’re already seeing between this year and last year is our ability to contest shots, and defensively we are number one in the league in opponent’s field goal percentage. Last year we were close to the bottom of the league, and that is a sign of maturity in our team that we have been able to make that adjustment. That’s a credit once again to our guys’ work ethic. That means they are doing all the little things defensively to win basketball games. That’s why those first two losses where so frustrating, because we put ourselves in a position to win those games and allowed those games to slip away because of what we did. In competition your opponent already has weapons to beat you, so the last thing you want to do is give them more ammunition. By giving up second shots and turning the ball over, that’s what we were doing.
After addressing the issue the Cavs came to town after winning two tough games in a row and their confidence high. We have always played the Cavs tough. We have had a couple of overtime games with them and some very tight ball games as well. We felt good going into this game that we could get it done in front of our home fans (who by the way were amazing).
We wanted to make everything difficult for LeBron, continue to contest shots and not surrender anything. We have developed a philosophy of not allowing teams to get all the way to the basket and make them play mid range and further out on the floor. As a credit to our team, LeBron didn't get a dunk or any layups in this game until the end. That’s a credit to our guys’ commitment to what we are trying to do. We also did a better job of team rebounding. We may have not had one guy who did the majority of the work, but everybody who played contributed in that statistic.
I was watching one of the experts on TV and the question was asked, “When do the Bobcats become more than an expansion team?” and the answer was, “When they have beaten every team in the league.”
Well, if that’s the case, the Cavs were one of those teams on the list. Now we move on to the next.
Getting Ready for the Road
-- Bobcats Television Sideline Reporter Stephanie Ready | 3:32 p.m. 11/7/06
This is my first ever blog… of any kind. The season has just begun, and the Bobcats have already provided a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Right now we are riding high on the victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of the largest crowd (over capacity) in Charlotte Bobcats Arena history.
The guys (Matt Devlin, Adrian Branch, Gary Williams) and I started the night outside on the Plaza to shoot the Nissan Pre-Game Show LIVE! It was a bit chilly, but it didn’t take long to warm up once inside the Arena because it was so PACKED! Nights like Saturday night I forget that I’m working because the game is so enjoyable and exciting (my courtside seat helps)! I ended up with a sore throat and scratchy voice toward the end of the television broadcast (occupational hazard).
After trying to get some rest and taking it easy for a couple days… it’s on to Boston today. I still have not packed yet, and it will be FREEZING in Boston. I’ve noticed over the last several years of traveling it is so much easier to pack for warm-weather climates.
I always procrastinate when heading north, especially Boston, Toronto, etc. Cold weather is why I played and coached indoor sports in the fall and winter (volleyball and basketball). But I digress…
Make sure you tune in to our Television (News 14) and Radio (Mix 106) broadcasts tomorrow from Boston at 7:30 p.m. I will be working double duty. I’ll have my usual role in the television broadcasts as sideline reporter, and I will be filling in for the “Rev.” (Henry Williams) as the Bobcats radio analyst. I’m looking forward to working with Steve Martin, “The VOICE of the CHARLOTTE BOBCATS.”
Until next time…
May Fired Up Heading to Boston
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 9:30 p.m. 11/6/06
It feels great to get that first win under our belt, especially since we knew we were in the other two games and let them slip away. We did a lot of good things in the Cavaliers game -- it was nice to be able to help seal the win with a block over LeBron toward the end of the game.
I think now that we have won there is a lot of pressure off, but we still need to work on closing out just a little better, I think that will come though. More importantly, guys just stepped up and made plays tonight and it felt good with the crowd that we had supporting us to get our first win at home, it was sweet.
It was important that we get that win not just for us, but for the fans also. The fans have done their part -- they have done a great job of staying with us and supporting us. We are trying to put a good product out there where they want to come watch every night, I think we are getting there.
Hopefully, I can continue to improve my game and the team can build momentum off of our last win and go get our first road win of the season against the Celtics.
Bobcats Give a Glimpse of Things to Come
-- Bobcats fan Gaither Jones | 6:40 p.m. 11/5/06
I would like to start my first blog off by saying that I appreciate this opportunity and am very excited about being a part of the Bobcats Blog Squad 2.0 team. Let me also say congrats to my co-winner Pete Reynolds. I have been a Bobcats fan since day one and am really looking forward to the 2006-07 season.
As a Bobcats fan, one can’t help but be excited about the upcoming season. What the Bobcats lack in talent, they make up for in hustle, intensity, and a strong work ethic. These qualities are sometimes absent in the NBA, so how can you not root for a team like the Bobcats? In addition, the team finally has its foundation established and all systems point to go as they look to improve upon their 26-56 record last year. From the third overall draft pick in Adam Morrison, to the return of injured players Emeka Okafor and Sean May, as well as the development of an important core group of players, the 2006-07 season should without a doubt be the best and most intriguing thus far – one that I honestly believe could include a playoff appearance.
Saturday night’s exciting Bobcats win in front of a record 19,147 fans over Lebron James and the Cavaliers was a good indication of what the team is capable of this season. The margin of victory wouldn’t have been so close if the Bobcats had connected on more of their free throws in the final minute during a Cleveland comeback attempt. However, a win is a win, and the Bobcats (1-2) play gave an indication of things to come this season.
After an interestingly cool guitar rendition of the National Anthem by contemporary jazz recording artist Ken Navarro, the player introductions began. Fans mostly gave the silent treatment to the Cavaliers with the exception of LeBron, but really made some noise for the home team. The lights went down and a new introduction video featuring highlights of the players working out, practicing, making plays and talking over a looped guitar intro to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” played on the jumbotron. I liked the old Bobcats intro, but the new one works much better (I think fans would agree) especially if you’re looking to get pumped up – I know my brother and I did.
The Bobcats seemed psyched to get their first win of the season as Gerald Wallace scored the first points of the game. Cleveland would take the lead though, leaving Charlotte down almost all of the first half (by as many as 12) and came back in the second half to win 92-88. LeBron James faced various defenders throughout the night which held him to poor shooting (3-16 field goals), late trips to the free throw line (9-10 free throws) and a deep three gave him 16 points. To the Bobcats credit, he didn’t even get an opportunity for one of his patent breakaway dunks. Cleveland was held to just 38 percent (27-71) while the home team shot 44.3 percent (31-70).
Raymond Felton was the leading scorer with 23 points (4-6 from three) along with five rebounds and six assists. I was predicting (and hoping for) him to have a good game due to his previous history against the Cavaliers. Last year, the rookie point guard out of the University of North Carolina really asserted himself during the second half of the season. He averaged 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.44 steals, helping him to win three consecutive Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards to conclude the season. During this span, in an away game against Cleveland, Felton had a very efficient 30 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals…. wow. Tonight’s performance may not have been as jaw dropping, but without him the Bobcats probably would have lost, not to discredit anyone else.
Felton’s backcourt counterpart, Brevin Knight, also was impressive. Knight has traditionally not been a great scorer, but tonight he was feeling it, registering 17 points (7-13 field goals, 3-4 free throws). To no surprise, Knight also had seven assists (he could have had at least 10 if things went differently) as he used his superior ability to see the floor and find the open man. Ironically though, the best pass of the night was not by BK, but by forward Othella Harrington from underneath the basket to a slashing Gerald Wallace for a thunderous dunk.
It was nice to see Emeka Okafor in person this year after hearing that he had worked hard rehabbing his ankles along with losing some weight. Unfortunately the officials wouldn’t let him play. The power forward was called for early fouls limiting his play in the first half and then was hit with two or three in the second half which received loud boos throughout the arena. (The referees whistled several little bump foul calls against the home team; vary rarely against the Cavs.) Okafor ended up fouling out, as did Gerald Wallace and Jake Voskuhl, but he looked good when he was on the court. The UConn product started off with impressive back-to-back blocks on a single possession about two minutes into the first quarter. He finished the game with three which should preserve his league leading blocks per game average. When the Bobcats took the lead later in the game, Okafor was key, scoring five points quickly in the early moments of the fourth. His finishing stat line: 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and three blocks in only 22 minutes.
Okafor’s foul trouble led to more playing time for bench players such as Sean May and Adam Morrison. May tallied 14 points, nine rebounds and a career-best three blocks, while Morrison contributed 13 points, including two threes and an impressive fade-away baseline jumper, all of which excited the fans. May’s shining moment came with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter as he swatted a driving attempt at the basket by James. The incredible block caused the arena to make a collective “Oh!” and promptly stand up in their seats and helped to seal the victory for the Bobcats.
On a random note, actress Liv Tyler and former NBA coach Paul Silas (he was featured on the kiss cam, but didn’t participate) were in attendance. At one point during a timeout the PA announcer directed Rufus to take a birthday cake to a fan to celebrate. However, when he got there, a fan with a James jersey tried to get into the camera shot in order to be on the jumbotron. Rufus then punctually took the large cake and smashed it into the man’s face as well as his jersey, knocking him down – now that’s entertainment.
The Bobcats next game is in Boston on Wednesday, November 8 as they look to get to (2-2) on the season.
An Inside Look at Public Relations
-- Bobcats Public Relations Coordinator Pete Sousa | 3:13 p.m. 11/4/06
Working in public relations in the NBA requires a lot of time and effort, pretty much year round. But it’s the business I’ve chosen, and I love my job, so it’s something I’ve become accustomed to. If you work in this business you find yourself keeping some pretty crazy hours. During the season those hours include just about every weekend and a lot of nights. Opening Night for the 2006-07 campaign was no different.
The day started at 5 a.m., when I made my way over to the Charlotte Bobcats Arena to meet Wilson of FOX News Rising. He was scheduled to do several live hits for the morning show from our practice court, where he’d have a chance to talk with Bobcats President & Chief Executive Officer Fred Whitfield, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Greg Economou, Player Programs Director and former NBA sharp-shooter Dell Curry, while hanging with mascot Rufus Lynx and Ashley and Nicole F. from the Lady Cats. Everything went smoothly and it was great to see how Wilson, along with all who represented the organization, was truly excited for opening night.
As the day went on our PR staff was inundated with late credential requests, which were handled by Malinda Murray. It seemed like every media outlet in Charlotte had decided to attend. There were also several television outlets arriving to do live shots from inside and outside the arena, spreading our staff pretty thin. Each of those live shots requires a member of the PR staff to oversee and facilitate the segment.
A big part of my day, along with full-time intern Eric Estes was dedicated towards producing materials for credentialed media. Things like game notes, rosters, press clips and Media Guide distribution take time.
On game days, each member of the PR staff has to walk around with a walkie-talkie, and the closer we got to tipoff it seemed like everyone was blowing us up. From making sure players on our team and the Pacers had their ticket requests together, to monitoring Coach Bickertaff’s pregame media availability, to making sure “Blue Carpet Arrivals” were running smoothly, it seemed like everybody was calling about something. Of course they wanted their particular situation attended to immediately, and this can always come with some drama.
In my first year, all of the pregame calls to the walkie and requests really blew my mind, but that’s when I received the best advice I’ve gotten about operating on game nights. B.J Evans, our director of media services, told me, “Never let someone’s panic mode affect your common sense.” Basically, digest the situation before you respond or try to take care of what someone needs. Following that advice has helped me a lot.
After some pretty cool player intros, featuring Bobcats’ starters descending onto the court from various sections in the lower lever, the ball was tipped at around 7:15 p.m. The game went smoothly, besides a real scare where Gerald Wallace crashed to floor after being fouled going in for a dunk. But in typical Wallace fashion, he shot two free throws before walking off under his own power. At halftime I was called on to walk Charlotte Business Journal writer Eric Spanberg back to Club 32 (Premium Season Ticket Holder Lounge) so he could get with NASCAR Driver Jimmy Johnson. Johnson was very gracious and candid in talking with Mr. Spanberg and I’m looking forward to seeing him at more games.
As the night finally wound down, the Bobcats were outdone by the Pacers, falling 106-99. However, the team showed flashes of a squad capable of competing night in and night out and possibly making a run at the postseason. Following the game, the arms of the PR staff and game nighters that come to help us out were all over the place. We had to monitor Coach Bickertaff’s postgame conference, open up our locker room to the media for their access with players and get quotes from each team and coach to the media as they filed their stories.
All in all it was another exciting night that saw myself and the rest of the staff leave the building at around 11:30 p.m. or Midnight. We get to do it all again tonight against LeBron and the Cavs. As you can imagine, it wasn’t very hard for me to get up and come into work.
Bright Spots Shine at Opening Night
-- Bobcats fan Pete Reynolds | 10:54 a.m. 11/3/06
The Bobcats season tipped off Wednesday at The Den (Charlotte Bobcats Arena) against the Pacers in a matchup of two teams that spent the better part of the last year nursing seemingly every imaginable ailment, from tweaked muscles, bum ankles, and Tennis Elbow, to rickets and scurvy. While the home team took the loss, everyone should be encouraged by the solid showing of fan support. According to the official attendance, the crowd was 18,518 strong, but I can honestly say that the energy in The Den made it feel like 19,122.
The game wasn’t particularly pretty, as indicated by the turnover totals (22 for the ‘Cats and 17 for the Pacers) and shooting percentages (65.6 percent on free throws for the home squad and 40.7 percent from the floor for the visitors). The turnovers were especially devastating, as they prevented the ‘Cats from exploiting their quickness advantage at the guard positions. The Bobcats also had difficulty capitalizing on all of Indiana’s missed shots, as the Pacers brought down 18 offensive boards and managed to turn enough of them into buckets to skip town with the win.
Given the relatively sloppy play from both teams over the final three quarters, I’m not sure I could point to any one moment that served as the proverbial finisher to this game. I’m not even sure Jimmy Chitwood (from the movie Hoosiers) could have cleaned up this game.
However, there were some bright spots for the Bobcats. Most notably, Emeka Okafor played an excellent game, especially on the defensive end. He looks lighter and quicker than he did in limited action last year, and it showed to the tune of 19 points, 13 boards, and six blocks, at least a couple of which were the result of his quick help defense. Offensively, he looked as good as he has in a long time and did so against a solid Indiana front line. Bobcats fans should definitely be encouraged by his performance.
One “bright spot” that only qualifies as such because it initially looked horribly bleak is Gerald Wallace’s health. A Danny Granger flagrant foul on a Wallace breakaway dunk attempt sent Wallace crashing to the floor in the kind of spill that will turn a man religious if he survives relatively unscathed. Luckily, Wallace was able to get up and shoot his free throws after lying on the hardwood for an extended period of time. While he didn’t re-enter the game, he walked off the floor and stayed on the bench for the remainder. It’s good to hear today that he’ll be okay.
Adam Morrison’s much ballyhooed debut falls under the “bright spot” category in my opinion (which is the only one, at the moment, that you are reading). He came out firing, unleashing two shots on his first two possessions, the first of which was a nice head-fake leaner, and the second of which was an in-and-out three-ball. He looked a little jittery on the whole, committing four turnovers and a couple of nervous-fouls, but he played fairly well and gave the crowd its biggest cheer of the night after draining a 41-footer at the first quarter buzzer.
In non-basketball-related news, the new game introduction (a fist-pumping video montage of player highlights) was solid, though I must admit that I missed the surly, steroid-riddled, graphically-enhanced Bobcat that used to rampage through Digital Charlotte on the Jumbotron.
Perhaps my favorite non-basketball moment of the night came during the fan trivia portion, when one Bobcats fan, after botching his layup trivia question, received a T-shirt featuring Adam Morrison’s face covering the entire front side. Such T-shirt facial proportions are typically reserved for dead rock stars, not athletes, but I commend the Bobcats willingness to make the connection to Morrison’s “Blue Oyster Cult Concertgoer” motif.
Next week, instead of a T-shirt, perhaps the prize could be a spiral notebook with “DEEP PURPLE RULES!!” etched onto the cardboard backing in blue ball-point pen.
Okay, that’s it for now. Time to get ready for Cleveland and LeBron (French for “The Bron”) James on Saturday.
Excitement Building Just Hours Away From Opening Night
-- Assistant coach Jeff Capel | 12:51 p.m. 11/1/06
It’s almost game time, and I know myself and the rest of the team are very excited about regular season play starting.
We had a productive preseason, and as a coaching staff we decided to split the preseason into two parts. The first five games we just let the players play, just to see where they were in terms of their basketball instincts and their knowledge of the game, particularly our young players. I thought the first part of it was good to find out where everyone stood and it served its purpose.
I think the biggest difference in the team this year’s team is chemistry. I think our chemistry is very good, and that is something I think people often underestimate. I think there is a genuine care for each other on this team, which isn’t always the case in this league. At the same time the players really go out and compete against each other in practice. That makes for good practices.
We have done a lot of work in the last few days. We are excited and ready for the season to start. It was important to get through the preseason unscathed. Unfortunately we’ll be without Primoz (Brezec) for a while, but since the team is pretty healthy we have been able to focus solely on playing the Pacers. We played them twice during the preseason, making us very familiar with them and it should make for a good game.
Hopefully, we can get the season started off tonight on a winning streak.
Ready to Get Things Rolling in 2006-07
-- Bobcats forward Sean May | 8:12 a.m. 10/31/06
Wow, preseason went by fast. I am really looking forward to the start of the regular season and can't wait to get out there and play Indiana on Wednesday. I got through preseason without an injury and my body feels good. I know I am ready to go now and the mental part is gone, I can just go out and play.
The first preseason game was really great to get under my belt. Last year when I was playing I could probably play five or six minutes because I didn't have time to train because of the first knee surgery. Against the Magic, I played 10 or 11 minutes in the first quarter and it was fine, so I knew my conditioning was better. Each and every year I just want to keep adding to it, where it will never be an issue.
For preseason we got to play two games in Chapel Hill, which was a lot of fun for Raymond (Felton) and me. We have a lot of good memories playing at the Dean Dome. Unfortunately, we didn't win either game there. Even though we didn't win I got to see some friends and (Tar Heels Head) Coach (Roy) Williams, which was nice.
It was disappointing to hear about Marvin (Williams') injury and that he would miss the game against us and the beginning of the season. I spent a lot of time with Marvin over the summer -- we both took classes then. Coach made me promise before I left UNC that I was going to come back and finish school. Marvin's a better man than me though -- he has three years to make up, I only have one.
Even though we didn't win as much as we would have liked in the preseason, our major concern was fine tuning our game and getting ready for the season opener. I am happy with the way I played though, for the most part my jumper was falling down for me. If I can step out and knock down the jumper it is going to make guys come step out to guard me and help free up space for our guards to drive.
I know there is still a lot I have to work on, but I feel like my game is in a good place right now and that I can contribute and help us win basketball games. The team is also confident heading into the season and we feel like we got a lot accomplished during the preseason.
We are just going to go out and compete every night. I think our effort on the court will show fans we are trying and help us get people involved in the team again like they were when the Hornets were here. I know firsthand that this state loves its sports, especially its basketball, and we are just going to keep trying to get everyone interested in Charlotte basketball again.
With all that said, we are going to try to go and get a big win on Wednesday and hope to see you all there rooting us on.