J.B. BICKERSTAFF JOINS TIMBERWOLVES STAFF
"This is a great opportunity to come to Minnesota and be a part of Randy's staff," Bickerstaff said. "I enjoyed my time with the organization as a broadcaster and I'm excited to start in my role in improving the team as an assistant coach."
Bickerstaff spent the past three seasons (2004-05 - 2006-07) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats. He worked under his father, Bernie - an NBA veteran of almost 30 years, who was the general manager and head coach of the Bobcats. Both Bickerstaffs have held the distinction of being the youngest coach in the NBA - John-Blair at age 26 in 2005 and Bernie at age 29 in 1973.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Bickerstaff returns to the Timberwolves organization where he was the color analyst on radio broadcasts for the 2003-04 season. Prior to that, he served as the director of operations for the University of Minnesota men's basketball program where he oversaw all administrative areas of the program and assisted the coaching staff.
"I'm excited that we were able to bring J.B. back to the Timberwolves," Wittman said. "As a young assistant who comes from a great basketball background, he'll add a lot to our staff and I'm looking forward to working with him."
Bickerstaff played two seasons of college basketball with the Golden Gophers from 1999-2001. He averaged 9.4 ppg and 5.8 rpg in those campaigns and finished his senior season with 10.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg. His collegiate career started at Oregon State University where he was the youngest NCAA Division I player as a 17-year-old freshman.
MORRISON AND HERRMANN RECEIVE R.O.Y. VOTES
Morrison, the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, received 11 second-place votes and 11 third-place votes for a total of 44 points. He ranked second among all rookies, averaging 11.8 points and added 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 78 games for Charlotte, including 23 appearances in the starting lineup.
Morrison was named NBA Eastern Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month in November after averaging 15.3 points, 2.1 assists and 35.6 minutes in 15 games.
A late push by Herrmann earned the 27-year-old, undrafted rookie from Argentina one second-place vote and two third-place nods for a total of five points.
The NBA Eastern Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for March ranked sixth among all rookies with 9.2 points and led all first-year players, connecting on 46.1 percent of his shots (53-115) from three-point range. He was also second among rookies from the field overall, hitting on 52.7 percent (174-330) of his attempts.
Portland’s Brandon Roy received 127 out of a possible 128 first-place votes (638 points) from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada to take home Rookie of the Year honors. Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani finished second with 264 points and Memphis’ Rudy Gay finished third with 93 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.
WALLACE AND OKAFOR TWO OF TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Gerald Wallace placed seventh in the voting, finishing with three first-place votes, three second-place votes and three third-place votes for a total of 27 points. G-Force capped a career year, leading the Bobcats in scoring (18.1 points), but it's what he does defensively that gets him noticed by opposing players, coaches, media and Bobcats fans.
This season, Wallace tied for fifth in the league with 2.00 steals and ranked second on the Bobcats with 7.2 rebounds and 0.96 blocks. While his numbers might not rank up near the top, anybody who has seen Wallace play knows how much he changes the game on the defensive end.
Okafor also continued to be a game-changer in his third season in Charlotte, and the league took notice. He tied with Detroit's Tayshaun Prince for 11th in the voting, earning two second-place nods and four third-place votes for 10 total points.
The 6-10, 255-pound forward/center set career-highs in rebounds and blocks in 2006-07 - ranking sixth in the NBA with 11.3 boards and fourth in the league with 2.57 rejections each contest. He was one of only four players in the NBA to rank in the Top 10 in rebounds and blocks. The others were Marcus Camby (Denver), Tim Duncan (San Antonio) and Ben Wallace (Chicago).
Camby took home the award after averaging a league-high 3.30 blocks to go along with 11.7 rebounds (tied for fourth in the NBA), 11.2 points and a career-high 3.2 assists. He received 431 points, including 70 first-place votes, from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.
CARROLL AND WALLACE GARNER MOST IMPROVED PLAYER VOTES
The annual award is presented to a player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.
After averaging 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists, while shooting 40.3 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from three-point range and 82.1 percent from the free throw line in 16.3 minutes as a reserve for Charlotte in 2005-06, Carroll set career highs across the board in 2006-07.
His 12.5 points were up 4.5 from 2005-06, while he also showed marked improvement with 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists while connecting on 43.3 percent of his field goals, 41.6 percent of his treys and 90.4 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. Carroll also averaged nearly 10 minutes more per game (26.1) in 72 games, including 47 starts.
Wallace led the Bobcats with a career-high 18.1 points – up 2.9 from the 15.2 he averaged last season. He also dished out a career-high 2.6 assists, while shooting a career-best .325 from long range and .691 from the free throw line. G-Force also averaged a team- and career-high 36.7 minutes for the Bobcats.
Golden State’s Monta Ellis was named the winner of the 2006-07 NBA Most Improved Player Award after receiving a total of 352 points, including 47 first-place votes, from a panel of 129 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Sacramento Kings’ Kevin Martin finished second with 349 points (44 first-place votes) followed by the Utah Jazz’s Deron Williams with 101 points (13 first-place votes).
Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third place vote received. It was the closest finish in the history of the award since 1990-91 when Scott Skiles of Orlando edged out Kevin Gamble of Boston by four votes.
BICKERSTAFF COACHES HIS LAST BOBCATS PRACTICE
"I didn’t even think about that aspect of it," Bickerstaff said about finishing his longtime NBA coaching career. "It’s our approach. It's our job and that’s what we supposed to do… We’re just getting ready for tomorrow night."
Gerald Wallace (left knee contusion), Matt Carroll (lower back spasms) and Adam Morrison (left knee sprain) all returned Tuesday, but will be game-time decisions. Team doctors wanted to determine their prognosis based on recuperation from Tuesday’s practice.
The team will not hold a standard morning shootaround on Wednesday, electing to go with a longer practice on Tuesday in preparation for the 7 p.m. season finale against New York.
Bickerstaff declined to make comments about his role with the Bobcats next season.
"I don't think it would be wise for me to make any statements about next year when we haven't finished up this year," Bickerstaff said. "Everything right now is emotional. We always get away, because I'm subjective right now. I'd like to be in a situation where I’m objective."
Wallace said he had to “beg to practice” and wants to win one final game for his coach the last three seasons.
"All that we accomplished and what we’ve done this year is for him," Wallace said. "I think everybody this season has been bound as far as getting him to the playoffs. To give him one last victory and one last win would be a big thing for us."
Carroll, who declined to say whether he will play, echoed Wallace’s sentiments of how important the game is despite having no playoff implications.
"For us, it's a huge game," Carroll said. "It's Coach Bickerstaff's last game, and I think for our team it's probably the biggest reason – not just that we want to get 34 wins, but we want to send coach out with a win in his last game coaching."
MORRISON TO MISS HIS MUSTACHE NIGHT
Guard Matt Carroll (back spasms) will likely sit out his second straight game.
Jake Voskuhl will undergo an MRI on his left knee and should likely miss the game tonight as well.
All three Bobcats did not attend the team’s morning shootaround.
Charlotte did welcome the return of Derek Anderson (sore knee) and Othella Harrington (knee surgery). Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff expressed interest in having both players rest their injuries for the remainder of the season prior to Friday’s game, but both participated in the shootaround. However, Anderson is the only one of the two who might see time tonight.
For the Heat, Shaquille O’Neal did not make the trip to Charlotte because of the death of his paternal grandfather. O’Neal attended is set to rejoin Miami for Wednesday’s game when the Heat host Washington.
Three-time All-Star Dwyane Wade may be back in the starting lineup after missing 23 games with a dislocated left shoulder. He scored 12 points, but shot 3-9 and missed six free throws.
“I felt pretty good physically,” Wade said. “Besides getting a little tired, that’s expected, but my shoulder felt pretty good. I took a couple of hits to test it.”
Wade said he doesn’t care how many minutes he receives as long as he can help the riddled roster.
“That’s coach’s call, whenever he puts me back in the lineup,” Wade said. “I’m going to come off the bench and try to help my teammates when I get in. I know what I did wrong last game so I’m going to be more aggressive tonight than I was in the first game.”
Point guard Gary Payton did not make the trip with a left calf injury and may be out through the end of the regular season.
Forward Udonis Haslem (bruised groin) missed practice on Tuesday, but attended Wednesday’s shootaround because of a bruised groin and is a questionable tonight.
Heat guard James Posey made the trip and could play tonight despite being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after an officer pulled him over for stopping in the middle of a road early Monday morning.
“We’re still fighting for position,” said Heat Head Coach Pat Riley. “The game means a lot to us and we’re going to have to play a lot better than we did (Sunday)…we’ve got to be a little more focused tonight.”
Riley, who’s won five NBA championships as a head coach including last season’s, is anxious to solidify home court advantage, at least through the first round of the playoffs.
“We’ve had a real up and down season,” Riley said. “Where ever we land next week is where we’re going to start defending our title.”
The Heat had enough trouble arriving in Charlotte on Tuesday morning. On the Miami runway, the airplane taxied twice before it finally took off, delaying the team 30 minutes.
The following is the list of players with 10 or more 30+ point games:
The following is a list of those teams:
BOBCATS HONOR CHRIS LEAK
“I’m happy to be back home,” said Leak after being presented a framed custom-made Bobcats jersey with his name and number (12) on it. “I want to thank the Charlotte Bobcats for putting together this presentation for me. It’s great to come back home with my family and be honored here like this – it’s just a great feeling. It’s been a great ride. Through high school and through college, I’ve had great fan support here in Charlotte.”
While Leak admitted it was his first time at a Bobcats game, the gifted athlete who also led Independence High School to three North Carolina State Championships already knew his way around Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
“Yes, it’s my first time coming to a game,” he said. “But my first time in the new arena was during the Draft Party here when they drafted Adam Morrison in the first round.”
While the native Charlottean admits it is difficult for him to keep up with the Bobcats on a day-to-day basis, he’s been getting a little help from someone with the inside scoop on the league.
“I try to keep up as much as I can,” Leak said. “Being down in Gainesville it’s kind to tough, because it’s all football, but my girlfriend works for the Orlando Magic. So I’ve been able to kind of stay in the mix with the NBA through her job and what she does. I try to keep up with the Bobcats as much as I can.”
Leak even has a favorite player on the squad.
“Definitely it is Emeka Okafor,” he said. “Everybody loves him and he is a first-class individual – a great person, great player and is the ideal example of what you need to be like to play in the NBA.”
A recent Florida graduate, Leak must now wait around for the 2007 NFL Draft to see where the future might take him. But if he had his choice, he’d like to stay right here in his hometown.
“It wouldn’t be bad to come here and play for the Panthers,” he smiled. “It would be great to come back and play for my hometown team and play in front of my friends and family.”
OKAFOR READY TO "HAVE SOME FUN"
Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton are all set to return from various injuries. Wallace (cramps) and Felton (thigh bruise) sat out in an overtime loss to New Jersey, while Okafor is back for the first time since a strained left calf sidelined him on February 24.
“I’m feeling really good,” Okafor said. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get out there, help my teammates and just have some fun.”
The Bobcats went 4-11 during Okafor’s 15-game absence.
“It’s a great thing to have Emeka back,” Wallace, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday. “I think with him back, our shot blocker back and our leading rebounder back, our middle will become more dominant. The way we pick up playing defense team wise is going to improve a whole lot more.”
Derek Anderson (sore knee) and Sean May (sore knee) are not unlikely to play. If that remains the scenario, Charlotte will likely designate rookie Ryan Hollins or veteran forward Othella Harrington as inactive to accommodate to NBA’s policy of having 12 active players per game.
Harrington stayed after practice, working with team trainer Joe Sharpe in order to rehabilitate his left knee, which is less than two months removed from surgery to repair torn cartilage. The 6-9 forward played three minutes on March 20, but only recorded a turnover and foul.
OKAFOR, WALLACE AND FELTON BACK IN THE FOLD
The trio, along with second-year forward Sean May and veteran guard Derek Anderson sat in street clothes during the 113-107 defeat on Saturday. Neither May (sore knee) nor Anderson (sore knee) went through team drills.
However on Tuesday, Charlotte General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff claimed Okafor, Wallace and Felton as “go’s,” likely meaning they will play when the Bobcats host Atlanta at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Bickerstaff referred to Okafor as the “anchor inside” and seemed genuinely excited to alleviate some of the scoring burden – and defensive pressure – from Felton and Wallace.
“It felt great,” Okafor said in reference to his calf. “I’m getting the rest of my body used to sudden movement, but there’s nothing that concerns me right now. We took the necessary steps as far as gradually working our way up to this point.”
Okafor, who started 55 of the team’s first 56 games, hasn’t played in 15 contests since a strained left calf sidelined him on February 24. He is averaging 14.9 points and 11.7 rebounds.
While the third-year forward/center rested, the Bobcats totaled a 4-11 record, even employing what Bickerstaff termed “mini-ball,” with the 6-7 Wallace lining up at center.
“ I’m very happy,” Wallace said. “I don’t have to take all of the banging and take the big guys every night. It’s a great thing to have Emeka back because he gives us that presence, that intimidation in the middle.”
Felton and Wallace will likely return after against the Hawks, which the Bobcats have beaten twice this season. Felton suffered a left thigh contusion Friday, exiting a narrow loss to Philadelphia with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter. Following the same game, Wallace, the team’s leading scorer, writhed in pain in the team locker room.
“(I was) tired, exhausted, wore out. My body just kind of quit on me,” Wallace said. “Taking a beating, playing three games in four nights, traveling, the whole season of playing the four and the five and banging with guys that are 150 pounds heavier than me, my body told me it was time to take a rest.”
Wallace, who is averaging a team-best 17.1 points, may have been exaggerated his big bodied opponents, but is still content to have Okafor return.
“With him back, our shot blocking back and our leading rebounder, our middle will become more dominant. The way we pick up playing defenses as a team, it’s going to improve a whole lot more.”
The fresh Bobcats, who started Jake Voskuhl, Brevin Knight, Matt Carroll, along with rookies Walter Herrmann and Adam Morrison on Saturday will likely go back to a starting combination of Felton, Carroll, Wallace, Okafor and Primoz Brezec.
HARRINGTON TO RETURN AGAINST CAVALIERS
Harrington has missed Charlotte's last 24 games after having surgery on torn cartilage in his left knee on February 1. He has not played since January 31 in Golden State.
He is averaging 2.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.7 minutes in 21 games for the Bobcats this season. Harrington had two points and eight rebounds in Charlotte's 92-88 win over Cleveland back on November 4, 2006 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
MAY AND BREZEC OUT AGAINST CLIPPERS
Prior to Friday's game, Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff annouced that May would not take the court against Los Angeles due to the same knee soreness.
Center Primoz Brezec will also miss Friday’s contest against the Clippers with a sprained left ankle he suffered late in Wednesday’s win over the Kings.
With Brezec out of the lineup, Jake Voskuhl will step into the starting lineup for the fifth time this season.
Voskuhl will draw the task of guarding the likes of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman in the paint. He knows staying out of early foul trouble could prove crucial in this contest.
“I think not reaching makes a big difference – not trying to pick up a silly one or two (fouls),” he said after shootaround on Friday. “You might have one foul that’s a legitimate foul, but not getting those silly fouls makes all the difference in the world.”
Voskuhl isn’t likely to draw too many “silly” fouls, considering when he is on the floor for the Bobcats, he tends to make sure the opponent doesn’t get the opportunity to convert a three-point play.
“Sometimes you get caught out of position,” he said. “You see the guy starting to go up and there’s a point where you say either, ‘I’m going to give him the layup or I’m going to take a foul where he can’t get an and-one.’ You just have to decide between the two, but it’s a quick decision.”
“(Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) said he’s going to talk to him and he’s getting better,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “He’s done more the last two days than he’s done since the surgery, but it’s still mental for him after that. But he’s getting better. He’s getting close.”
Still, Bickerstaff said it would be highly unlikely that Harrington would play against the Clippers.
BICKERSTAFF FOCUSED ON TASK AT HAND
Nothing has changed for Bickerstaff in recent days.
When asked after Wednesday’s shootaround to talk about what his role might be with the franchise after this season, Bickerstaff did not want to stray from getting his team prepared for the Kings.
“All I’m going to talk about is the game tonight. At the appropriate time, I will be willing to (talk about the summer),” Bickerstaff said. “To me, that’s not even the focus – about me. It’s about the team trying to get things done and trying to keep winning.”
NO TIMETABLE ON KNIGHT’S RETURN
“Brevin could be (out) a while. We’re trying to get him to check with the doctor who did the initial surgery in Philadelphia, because now it’s the other groin,” he said. “But a lot of that is probably from compensating with the other (injury). My thing with him is we need him to get it checked out as soon as possible, because even if it’s a situation where he needs to rehab it over the summer, the quicker he can do it, the better it is for him and his career.”
Does this mean Knight might be shut down for the remaining 18 games of the season?
“That’s always a possibility,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s always tough for a guy whose game is predicated on quickness and speed.”
FELTON MIGHT MISS NASCAR NIGHT GAME
“He said he has a little nausea, so maybe it’s a little touch of the flu,” Bickerstaff said. “I don’t know, but he didn’t come in this morning – he called to let us know.”
With Knight already out, Bickerstaff said he would go with Jeff McInnis and Derek Anderson at the point if Felton can’t go.
OKAFOR HEADED BACK TO CHARLOTTE
Okafor strained his left calf against Toronto on February 24 and has missed the Bobcats first two games of their season-long six-game West Coast trip. Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sharpe is concerned that the injury is not progressing as the Bobcats had hoped, so Okafor will have the MRI as a precautionary measure.
Okafor may miss the remainder of the trip, if it is determined that rest and relaxation would be best before the Bobcats head back home for a March 10 contest against Memphis.
OKAFOR MIGHT MISS FIRST GAME OF SEASON
According to Charlotte General Manager/Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the flu has been going around the team. Okafor practiced during a light work out Thursday, but was sent home early. He was also excused from the morning shootaround.
Okafor’s absence could insert either Derek Anderson or Adam Morrison in the starting lineup. If Okafor can’t go, it will be the 17th different starting lineup combination this season.
The Bobcats hold a 10-11 record in the 21 games when Anderson starts, including three straight wins when the lineup included himself, Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Matt Carroll and Raymond Felton.
Morrison has played well of late, notching four three-pointers in each of the last two games. Morrison has started 20 games, including the last game in Philadelphia on February 7. But other than that, he hadn’t started a game since a January 5 loss to Orlando.
In either scenario, Okafor’s absence erases Charlotte’s best post presence. Okafor and Denver’s Marcus Camby are the only players in the NBA in the top six in both blocks and rebounds. The Sixers will likely start Samuel Dalembert and Steven Hunter together, which means that Wallace will likely guard Hunter while Primoz Brezec would match up with Dalembert.
Jeff McInnis went through the light practice on Thursday and the shootaround without pain in the ankle he tweaked on Monday. He didn’t dress for either back-to-back early week win, but plans to go against the Sixers.
Sean May (sore right knee) also missed the morning shootaround, so he’s likely out again tonight. He’s miss the past 12 games and 16 of the last 18. May explains his frustration with how his bone bruise has not healed as quickly as he initially anticipated.
Despite the injuries, Morrison’s offensive outbursts since the All-Star break have the coaches excited.
“I think it says a lot about his purpose and understanding of himself and what he wants to be,” said Assistant Coach John-Blair Bickerstaff. “He’s got the ability to be a superstar in this league, but it takes time to learn. None of those guys that came into the league as superstars…You go down the list and these guys took time to develop.”
He scored all 26 of his game-high points in the second half during a 100-95 win over Minnesota on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a group of young guys who are in the process, who have the talent to become one of those (superstars),” Bickerstaff added. “It just takes a little time to adapt.”
That being said, these two back-to-back home games before it heads on the road for a season-high six-game West Coast swing could prove crucial to Charlotte. The Bobcats are just five games behind Southeast Division rival Miami for the eighth seed and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“If we do get to the playoffs, it will be great for the city of Charlotte and great for this team,” McInnis said. “I don’t think it’s out of reach. Dwyane Wade just went down, so it opens up things for every team in the East.”
KNIGHT WORKING BACK INTO ROTATION
Brevin Knight’s return gives the Bobcats an additional option at the point, making him available to spell Raymond Felton or move him to the off guard slot. Playing for the first time in 24 games, Knight logged 26 minutes and dished out seven assists in a 108-100 overtime loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday.
“Brevin needs the reps…He’s got to play a certain way, said Charlotte Head Coach/General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff. “He plays with speed and quickness…so basically it’s a rhythm thing that he needs to have right now.”
Knight is still adjusting from his prolonged layoff and is slated to come off the bench despite starting 19 of the season’s first 21 games.
“We had a good practice,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s real simple. We’re transitioning back into a different lineup. And we’ve got to get it organized. There’s going to be a situation where some guys won’t be happy with it, but there are two things we expect is professionalism and to be good teammates.”
Bickerstaff indicated that the starting lineup against Houston (Felton, Matt Carroll, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec) would likely be the starters against the Bulls on Wednesday. The third-year Charlotte coach, who has used 16 different starting lineups, hopes this group will provide a sense of consistency.
“Some of the things we were doing with Gerald, we’ve got to make adjustments because teams have locked in on it,” Bickerstaff said. “So we’re going to have to do things with more motion and quickness to get him the ball. It’s an ongoing process where you just have to make changes. It’s a transition period.”
Sean May practiced on Monday, but limped through some agility drills. May was expected to play at Houston but reported additional knee soreness, so the Bobcats held him out as a precautionary measure. There is no timetable for his return.
“I don’t know whether it’s best to hold him until after (the All-Star break),” Bickerstaff confessed. “He certainly wants to play.”
May’s knee will be reevaluated by team trainer Joe Sharpe to determine if Monday’s practice triggered more soreness. He could play on Wednesday and is listed as questionable.
Derek Anderson, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter on February 3, went through light workouts and is questionable against Chicago on Wednesday. Like May’s knee, Anderson’s ankle will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
KNIGHT READY TO RETURN
Knight has missed the Bobcats last 24 games after suffering a right rectus abdominis muscle tear late in December. He had surgery to repair the tear on December 29 and hasn’t played since.
“I’m definitely anxious. It’s been a lot of weeks in the making, so I’m ready to play,” Knight said after Friday’s shootaround. “I’m not going to be in there for heavy minutes, because I still have to get in shape somewhat. I don’t want to be a detriment in any way, so I’ll get out there and probably play some short stints but I’m ready to go.”
Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he will work Knight into the rotation slowly and see how he reacts in short bursts of play.
“He wants to go and has been cleared, so they told us to try and play him in five-minute stretches,” Bickerstaff said. “So we had 14 bodies out there today – which we didn’t know what to do with.”
While there may have been 14 bodies at practice, only 12 will be available against Portland. Sean May will rest his knee another day, while Derek Anderson (ankle) and Othella Harrington (knee) are still out as well.
“Sean will not go tonight,” Bickerstaff said after shootaround. “He’ll try to go tomorrow night (in Houston), because we don’t want him to go in back-to-back games (coming back from the injury).”
BOBCATS CLOSE TO GETTING HEALTHY
Brevin Knight practiced for the second time in three days, but his status remains questionable. He was a late scratch in Wednesday’s 92-83 loss to the Sixers because of conditioning issues.
“There is a possibility that he could go,” said Charlotte General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff. “We had a good practice today. We have a shootaround tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”
Sean May also returned to practice after missing 11 of the last 13 contests because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
“Sean had a workout today, but I’m not sure,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what the impact is (and) how he responds to the work.”
Two perennial starters were held out on Thursday. Neither Raymond Felton nor Derek Anderson practiced. Felton rested a lingering ankle injury that caused him to miss his only two games of the season. There is also some concern because he banged his knee with a Sixers player on Wednesday in Philadelphia. Anderson is likely doubtful because of an ankle sprain he tweaked during the first quarter of a win on February 3 against Golden State.
Bickerstaff was quick to praise his core of players that helped to keep Charlotte competitive while so many players were out with injuries.
“What I told the guys today is that sometimes I get a little upset at them,” Bickerstaff said. “But this group really kept us from being buried. And it’s been seven or eight guys when we had these (other) guys out and I think we forget that… We just want to let them know we appreciate what they’ve done because we’ve been in tough situations with that road trip and these kids stepped up. Now the cavalry is on the other side and we’ve just got to collectively see if we can make a nice little run.”
BOBCATS EARNING NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Charlotte's recent success has caught the attention of the national media as of late, particularly this week, as USA Today and ESPN are both raving about the Bobcats in recent articles:
On Monday USA Today professional basketball columnist David Dupree named the Bobcats his Team of the Week after wins in Denver and against New York and Golden State in Charlotte.
Also on Monday, ESPN.com's Marc Stein gave Charlotte it's highest ranking ever in his weekly power rankings. The Bobcats check in at No. 17, ahead of teams like the Nets, Nuggets and Magic.
HANGING WITH THE CHILI PEPPERS
Okafor arrived to the concert a little early and had the chance to meet up with lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bass player and avid NBA and Lakers fan Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith.
“It was cool to meet Flea, Anthony and all of them. They were pretty cool guys,” Okafor said. “They’ve done a lot and accomplished a lot with their music, and they still seemed pretty down to earth. I really enjoyed just talking with them.”
The Chili Peppers were so impressed after meeting Okafor that they dedicated their second song of the night – Dani California – to him. For as Flea said, “This one goes out to Emeka Okafor. Not only is he a great basketball player, he’s also a really nice guy.”
“That caught me offguard a little bit, but it was nice of them to do that,” Okafor said. “I’ve been a big Chili Peppers fan for a while, so that was a cool thing to do.”
While May didn’t make it in time to meet the guys before the concert, he was in attendance at the show and met up with the band members afterwards.
“It was a great show,” May said. “Those guys appeal to so many different generations. My realtor – I don’t know how old she is, but she’s older than me and she was here. I’m not sure how long they’ve been together, but it was amazing to learn that Flea and Anthony have known each other since they were 14 or 15 years old, and they’re well into their 40s now. They have a great thing going.”
May was also surprised to learn what a big basketball fan Flea was.
“It was cool because they came onstage, and Flea noticed us and said hello to us right away,” he said. “I would have never suspected him to know our names and stuff, and his wife probably knew more about basketball than he did. She knew everything about the draft and was talking about college ball – it was crazy. They’re really good people.”
Adam Morrison was also expected to be at the concert but a prior engagement prevented him from attending, drawing some good-natured ribbing from the Chili Peppers bassist.
“This next one goes out to the rest of the Bobcats,” Flea said before their encore, “even Adam (Morrison), who didn’t show up tonight.”
“It was cool that they gave us some recognition,” May said. “I know (Flea) is a big Lakers fan, so that had to be tough for him. They gave Adam a little bit of a hard time for not coming, but it was all in fun.”
Make sure to read Flea’s blog on the evening’s events on NBA.com.
FELTON OUT, WALLACE RETURNS IN ATLANTA
Wallace will play, but will not start. The game will be his first appearance in eight games since suffering a separated shoulder on December 30 while diving for a loose ball and having Jeff Foster land on him in Indiana. The 6-7 small forward began practicing Tuesday, and his minutes will be dependant on how sore the shoulder feels. Wallace’s shooting range is fine, but his pain is caused primarily by tightness following a workout.
Felton has been battling a nagging ankle injury for about a week, but continued to fight through it before the pain elevated. The second-year point guard led Charlotte with 18 points on Wednesday.
“That ankle has been hurting him for three of four games,” said Charlotte Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff after the Bobcats 89-83 win over Philadelphia this past Saturday, which is two games removed.
Jeff McInnis will get his first start since joining the Bobcats six games ago. Sean May (sore knee) sat out Wednesday and is listed as questionable and not expected to go tonight.
MAY COULD MISS WEDNESDAY'S GAME
“You could really tell in the second half,” said Charlotte Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff following practice. “Sean is one of those guys that has to have everything (working). We’ll have to wait and see.”
Gerald Wallace went through a full practice for the first time since missing the past six games with a separated shoulder. Wallace, who admittedly was tired, hinted that the soreness after working out was what was causing him the most pain. Team doctors would determine Wednesday morning whether he will go against the Nets. The Bobcats are 3-3 without Wallace.
Melvin Ely also returned to practice after straining his right calf, causing him to miss three games. Ely’s 6-10 frame should add to the frontcourt depth possibly vacated by May.
ELY NOT MAKING ROAD TRIP
WALLACE NOT READY YET
Eight days later, Wallace has yet to return to practice and is not expected to be ready to go on Wednesday in Detroit.
“I don’t think he’s going to be ready Wednesday,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said after Monday’s practice. “They want him to go with us, but I don’t know whether he’s going to be able to go Wednesday. He’s getting better. I saw he had a little more motion (in his shoulder), but (Friday in New York) is being optimistic.
McINNIS GETTING HIS LEGS UNDER HIM
In his first game with Charlotte, McInnis saw 16 minutes of action in a 106-74 loss to the Magic and scored two points on two free throws while going 0-4 from the field and adding on assist.
Still, Bickerstaff has liked what he has seen from McInnis in less than a week with the Bobcats.
“He’s doing pretty good. He got some good work on Saturday with the offense and defense and got some good work here (in practice Monday),” Bickerstaff said. “It’s just like we said, it’s not anything that he hasn’t seen before offensively. I think the problem with Jeff is the same thing that Derek (Anderson) had when he came in – that they haven’t had NBA competition for about a year. He has to kind of re-acclimate his game to that.”
While McInnis was happy to jump right into the action with Charlotte, he quickly realized he needed to knock off some rust after having so much time off.
“It was good (to play Friday), but I’d have rather been ready for the minutes,” he said after Monday’s practice. “I was out there trying to find my way. I felt like a rookie out there with my body. My mind was thinking go, go, go, but my body wouldn’t let me. But I’ve been working these last couple days, and today I felt like myself again. I was running fast and my chest wasn’t getting burned out when I was running. I know the plays now, too, so that helps a lot. I know I’ll be a lot better on Wednesday in Detroit.
“This was probably my best practice (Monday). I feel good. I’ve been coming in every day, two times a day to get my legs under me – getting in the pool and doing court work. I think it’s starting to come back together, and this was my best day by far.”
ANSWER IS SIMPLE
“The bottom line is we have to shoot better than 29 percent – it’s real simple,” Bickerstaff said. “We were equal opportunity employees in that situation (Friday). Melvin (Ely) might have been 2-2, but other than that, I think Matt (Carroll) was 7-15. The rest – if you don’t shoot the ball any better than that, then you’ve got problems.”
The Pistons could actually be the perfect cure for what is ailing Charlotte. In two games against Detroit this season, the Bobcats are shooting 48.7 percent (75-154) from the field and have split the season series 1-1.
WALLACE OUT AT LEAST A WEEK
Wallace obtained both injuries at the 8:28 mark of the fourth quarter when he hit the floor hard while diving for a loose ball against Jeff Foster. The real damage was done when Foster landed with all his weight on Wallace, driving his shoulder into the floor in front of the Bobcats bench. Wallace did not return to action.
On the positive side, if Wallace was going to sustain an injury, now might be the best time, considering that after Monday's game against Minnesota, Charlotte will play just one game - at 7 p.m. Friday in Orlando - in the next eight days. The Bobcats next game after facing the Magic is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 10 in Detroit.
"(The schedule) helps," General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said in his pregame press conference. "This is five (games) in seven (days) the way this worked out. The holidays were of no significance because it went so quick. It does give (Wallace) a chance to heal with some time off. The thing we're concerned about is replacing that energy. There are different things that he does for us."
With Wallace out, Bickerstaff said there could be an increase in minutes for Sean May, who returned from a right ankle sprain on Saturday in Indiana, Matt Carroll, Adam Morrison and Walter Herrmann.
"Everybody should be ready," Bickerstaff said. "The bodies aren't the concern. The concern is who replaces the energy level and what he does for us."
NEW/OLD BALLS NOT AN ISSUE
Despite being the first team to go back to using the old balls, Bickerstaff has made a point not to make the transition an issue.
"We don't even mention (going back to the old balls)," Bickerstaff said. "I told the guys to put the balls on the rack, and we didn't even talk about the ball - period. We've interspersed them (in practice) as time has gone along, but have made no comments about the balls. Even when they wanted to make comments, we didn't respond."
Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan (38 points) and Ennis Whatley (21 assists) did that for the Bulls on Feb. 23, 1985, in a win against Golden State.
BOBCATS LOOKING AT OPTIONS
“The plan was not for Derek (Anderson) to have to play those kind of minutes,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said after Friday’s shootaround. “We expected him to be a utility guy who could fill in at two or three positions – the one, two and three. We’ll find out the results and the timeframe today in terms of what the projection is (for Knight) and then go from there. The problem is we have a roster of 15 (players) – that’s an obstacle.”
If Bickerstaff does not want to cut someone on the roster, the only other option would be to engineer a possible trade.
“We’re pursuing those things, looking into it and making calls,” he said. “What happens now is people figure out you’re at a disadvantage, but we won’t panic.”
MAY OUT AGAINST LAKERS
“It’s a little sore right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to go (Saturday in Indiana),” May said after shootaround. “The swelling has gone down, but it’s still real tender. I started off shootaround fine (Friday), but towards the end I started limping a little bit. I’m going to give it another day and hopefully it will calm things down.”
Charlotte heads to May’s home state of Indiana on Saturday to take on the Pacers, and May would like to be back in the lineup.
“It can be a plus and a minus (returning in Indiana),” he said. “I haven’t played in a week and a half, so I have to watch and make sure I’m not pressing. I just want to play, no matter where it’s at.
“It’s always good to go home and see family and friends, but my body is most important right now. I want to make sure I’m able to go, able to be effective and able to try and help my team win games. But yeah, going home is always a special time.”
BOBCATS INJURY REPORT
“The prognosis is that Brevin is going to go,” Bickerstaff said in his pregame press conference. “We’ll work him in with five minute segments and then sit him to let him keep it warm.
“It’s not only hard to play without Brevin, but with Sean (May) too because of what they bring to the table. Brevin can be that one guy who elevates everybody’s game because of decisions that he makes, because he can put you in the right place and make the right decisions for you.”
Getting Knight back could be a big boost to Charlotte’s offense, especially with May still sidelined with a sprained right ankle.
“Sean is getting better, but we’re not sure about the target date (of December 26 in Dallas),” Bickerstaff said. “The swelling is down and he shot some today. But it’s the confidence factor of cutting. That’s basketball. Everything is a change of direction. I think the last guy that just went straight down the court was Robert Parish.”
HOLLINS BACK WITH BOBCATS
Hollins was one of only three players in the D-League to average a double-double (12.2 points, 10.4 rebounds) in his six games there, while also turning away an average of 2.00 shots each contest.
“It was a good experience to go out there and get some playing time while learning from (Head) Coach (Sidney) Moncrief,” Hollins said after Tuesday’s practice. “Playing in games just gives you that experience that you can’t get out in practice. Getting to play in the games really helped out. It feels great to be back in Charlotte though – seeing my place again and just seeing the guys and how they react to me. This is my team here, and seeing how they reacted to me being back here definitely felt great.”
Hollins is hoping he’ll stick around for a while with the Bobcats, but acknowledged he is willing to do whatever the coaching staff feels is necessary for him to develop as best he can.
One thing is certain – the 7-0, 230-pound center would like to be around in February and is hoping to get a shot at competing in the slam dunk competition in Las Vegas this season.
“If they put me in the dunk contest, I would put on a show,” he said. “Put me in there and I’ll give everyone their money’s worth. I’m tired of that stigma that when big men dunk, it doesn’t look as good. I’m out to ruin that. There’s no question I’m creative, and I’m going to show you some power too.”
KNIGHT OUT ON WEDNESDAY IN NEW YORK
Following Tuesday's practice, Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff told media that Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sharpe had informed him that Knight would be able to play at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
MAY OUT 7-10 DAYS
"I felt pretty good about it Saturday when I went home, but Sunday it kind of blew up on me a bit," May said Monday. "I wasn’t able to put any weight on it when I came in today, but after doing some treatment and some stim(ulation) I can put weight on it and we took away one of the crutches. So it’s starting to get better day-to-day. Hopefully by (Tuesday) I’ll just be in a boot and a day after that I should be out of the boot.
"(Head Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) said 7-10 days initially, and when I came back today it was still the same amount of swelling. He just said we’ll see because sometimes you might have a lot of swelling but can still come back faster than you might with minimal swelling and the pain stays."
May had been playing the best basketball of his brief two-year career as of late, averaging 16.5 points on 57.1 percent shooting (48-84) from the field with 6.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his last eight games. May scored a career-best 32 points in a 99-89 win over Orlando on December 14 and had posted two of his five double-doubles this season in Charlotte’s past four games.
Read more of May’s reaction in Blog Squad 2.0.
KNIGHT NAMED SECOND-BEST IN STANFORD HISTORY
Coming in at No. 2 on the list was Bobcats guard Brevin Knight, who trailed only Mike Montgomery – his former coach with the Cardinal.
“I told people doing the article that I made Coach Montgomery,” Knight laughed. “I guess the head coach gets all the accolades though. But seriously, he’s very worthy of it. He’s been the backbone over there for years – before I was there and after I was there. I’m just happy to even be considered second.”
HOLLINS TO GET CHRISTMAS CALL-UP
Ryan Hollins, the Bobcats second round pick (50th overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft is making quite an impression with the Fort Worth Flyers of the NBA D-League.
The Flyers are currently tied with the Dakota Wizards at 6-1 overall thanks in large part to the 7-0, 230-pound rookie out of UCLA.
Heading into Saturday’s games, Hollins was one of only three players (Justin Williams, Bismark Wizards; Elton Brown, Colorado 14ers) in the league to average a double-double on the season. In five games played, Hollins ranks 39th in the D-League in scoring (12.2 points) and third in rebounding (10.4) while shooting 48.9 percent (23-47) from the field in 29.8 minutes.
“They really like him,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “We’re probably going to bring him back on Christmas with us. We’ll just move him in and out, but now it’s the holidays, so we’ll bring him back to spend some family time with us. We’ve talked to them already. He’s playing well and getting a lot of minutes in, but (we’ll bring him back) to keep his spirits up.”
Hollins did sprain his ankle late last week, but it is what Bobcats Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sharpe classified as a “minor ankle sprain.” Hollins has missed the Flyers last two games but is expected to be ready to go again as early as Tuesday.
The Bobcats have the option to send Hollins down to the D-League a total of three times. He was sent down the first time on November 22, and Bobcats fans should now expect to see Hollins be back in an orange and blue uniform on December 26 in Dallas.
Former Bobcats guard Kevin Burleson is also playing with Hollins in Fort Worth and was averaging 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists entering Saturday's game in Tulsa.
BOBCATS DENY REPORT ABOUT A.I.
At Monday's practice, Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff stated the team wouldn't "mortgage the future" in an attempt to obtain Allen Iverson.
However, the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Aldridge reported later in the day that the Bobcats and Sixers were close to getting a deal done. Following Tuesday's practice at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Bickerstaff was quick to dispel that rumor.
"That is the biggest crap I have ever seen," Bickerstaff said. "It didn’t even come into play. So there is no response to that. Our situation with (Sixers President) Billy King was that we will be happy to be a facilitator if there is anyway that we can. If it would benefit us some way, if we could help them, then we would be happy to be a facilitator. We thought we would put that out there to him."
However, Bickerstaff also acknowledged that no situation in which the Bobcats would play the role of facilitator in a multi-team deal has been presented to Charlotte.
STARTING LINEUP NOW WHAT BOBCATS ENVISIONED
Guard Brevin Knight will be back on the court and back in the starting lineup for the Bobcats on Wednesday in Cleveland. Charlotte will start Knight, Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec, with Adam Morrison and Sean May expected to contibute quality minutes off the bench.
"This is the lineup we thought and envisioned down in training camp," Bickerstaff said. "Now you have Adam, Sean and Matt, guys coming off the bench who can put the ball in the basket. That is pretty good."
Bickerstaff does not seem overly concerned with his rookie forward's shooting woes as of late. Despite going 4-34 from the field the last four games, Bickerstaff knows Morrison's shot will start falling again soon.
"He needs to relax, and it will come," he said. "The one problem he is having is that he knows he can shoot the basketball. Life is about enver taking anything for granted. Not that he has, but even when we have certain skills, we can’t take them for granted. We have to always work on them - enhance them. There are different obstacles to try to prevent us from doing the things that we do best, we have to find a way to circumvent it."
PRICE TOO HIGH FOR IVERSON?
Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff is a smart man.
He knows the price tag on a one-time NBA MVP (2001) who has played in seven NBA All-Star Games, taken his team to the NBA Finals, won four scoring titles, averaged 28.0 points and 6.1 assists in his 10-year NBA career and is currently leading the league with an average of 31.2 points doesn’t come cheap.
For now, it is a price Bickerstaff isn’t willing to pay in an effort to acquire disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson.
“We are not interested in mortgaging the future,” Bickerstaff said after Monday’s practice. “We have to keep perspective. Some things aren’t going right, and during every season there is a lull that you have, so you fight out of it. And I say pros don’t panic. So we are having a tough time, we are in the beginning of the third year of an expansion team, so that is where we are and we all have to do a better job – players, coaches.
“We are pleased with our young players and we don’t want to part with any of them. You give one of your young guys player for one player and where are you? In the same place or really in trouble in terms of rebuilding – the time you have put into everything, you have lost it all… You can’t panic, patience is important in all of it.”
CARROLL AND KNIGHT OUT AGAINST ROCKETS
The Bobcats will be without the services of guards Brevin Knight and Matt Carroll on Friday night against the Rockets.
Knight is sidelined with a left knee strain, while Carroll will miss his second consecutive game with a right elbow strain.
With Knight out, Primoz Brezec will move into Charlotte's starting lineup alongside Raymond Felton, Adam Morrison, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor.
Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff mentioned at Friday's shootaround that both Derek Anderson and Bernard Robinson could see some time at the point against Houston, but that Felton should expect to see a lot of minutes as the Bobcats prepare for the third game of their four-game homestand.
FELTON DOUBTFUL, WALLACE A GO
There is a good chance the Bobcats will be without guard Raymond Felton when they tip off at 7 p.m. in Washington on News 14. Felton is doubtful after missing yesterday's practice and this monring's shootaround with back spasms, but was scheduled for a massage on Friday afternoon with the hopes his back might loosen up and allow him to play.
While Felton's status is in doubt, Charlotte will still have Gerald Wallace in the starting lineup. G-Force missed the majority of the second half in Atlanta on Wednesday with a hip pointer and was sidelined in yesterday's practice, but will be ready to take the court tonight.
Jake Voskuhl (sprained ankle) will also be back in the Bobcats lineup.
BOBCATS ENJOY A NIGHT OUT
The entire Bobcats team took in the spirit of the nation's capital on Thursday night.
Sean May, Matt Carroll, Walter Herrmann, Jake Voskuhl, the coaching staff, majority owner Bob Johnson and team president Fred Whitfield joined Emeka Okafor at the launch event for his One Million African Lives Initiative at the International Spy Museum.
Okafor explained how $15 million is necessary to make 10 million blood testing kits available throughout Africa to help save one million lives. Okafor is the first member of his family to be born outside of Nigeria and his parents regularly return to their home country. Okafor himself has visited Nigeria several times.
Following that event the entire team met up at Johnson's three-week old restaurant in Washington -- Posh. The players enjoyed visiting Johnson's supper club and feasting on chicken and seafood pasta. The restaurant has quickly become a weekly stop for several Washington Redskins players, including Clinton Portis.
DEREK ANDERSON HAPPY TO BE WITH BOBCATS
Charlotte's newest addition, veteran guard Derek Anderson, is in New Jersey and hopes to see his first action with the Bobcats tonight.
"This is a team that needs to grow as a team and utilize every weapon they have," Anderson said after Tuesday's shootaround. "Now they have another option in me. Charlotte is one of those teams where I can be used as a veteran to help out.
"This was a better situation than the other offers I had. I wanted to find the best fit for me. It's a matter of using my skills to help the team out."
In Anderson, General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff knows not only did the Bobcats add another veteran presence both on and off the court, but brought in a player who can help Charlotte out all over the court.
"Derek is a guy who can play the 1, 2 or 3," he said. "That versatility was definitely a factor so he can spell the guys at the point and also do some scoring. He can take some pressure off our young wings."
BREZEC BACK IN STARTING LINEUP
For the first time this season, center Primoz Brezec will be back in the Bobcats starting lineup when they take the court against the Nets tonight. Brezec will replace Raymond Felton in the starting lineup, giving the Bobcats a starting lineup of Brevin Knight, Adam Morrison, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Brezec. Bickerstaff removed Felton from the starting five in what he described as a minor discipline issue, and the decision is expected to be temporary.
VOSKUHL OUT AGAINST NETS
Reserve center Jake Voskuhl will miss his first game of the 2006-07 season tonight in New Jersey due to a sprained right ankle. Voskuhl is averaging 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.4 minutes through 13 games this season.
KNIGHT, ANDERSON OUT AGAINST BOSTON
Bobcats guard Brevin Knight (lower left calf strain) and guard/forward Alan Anderson (back) will both miss Wednesday's game against Boston due to injuries.
With Knight out of the starting lineup, both Adam Morrison and Gerald Wallace slide up a spot, and Sean May will make his fifth start of the season. May is averaging 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.25 blocks in his four starts this season.
Matt Carroll is also expected to make his return to Charlotte's lineup. He sat out Monday's game against Dallas after dislocating his finger on Saturday in Orlando.
HOLLINS SENT TO D-LEAGUE
The Bobcats assigned center Ryan Hollins to their NBA Development League affiliate Fort Worth Flyers prior to Wednesday's game against the Celtics.
The 7-0, 230-pound center was drafted by Charlotte with the 50th overall selection in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft and has not appeared in a regular season game with the Bobcats this season.
“Ryan is a terrific athlete who needs a chance to play and develop,” Bobcats General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “Getting game experience is critical for Ryan and sending him to Fort Worth will provide him that opportunity.”
Hollins averaged 7.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.88 blocks (ninth best in the Pac-10) in 21.5 minutes as a senior at UCLA. In four seasons with the Bruins, he averaged 5.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and connected on .575 from the field and finished his collegiate career as the fourth all-time leading shot-blocker in school history with 101 blocks behind Jelani McCoy, Milwaukee Bucks center Dan Gadzuric and Charles O’Bannon.
Hollins will be coached in Fort Worth by former NBA All-Star Sidney Moncrief and joined on the court by Kevin Burleson, who spent the 2005-06 season with Charlotte before being waived prior to the start of the 2006-07 season.
KNIGHT , CARROLL GOOD TO GO
Bobcats guards Brevin Knight and Matt Carroll both participated in Monday's shootaround prior to their game against Dallas at 7 p.m. and will both play against the Mavs.
"I'm a full go," Knight said. "I'm going to go out there, and the pain will be very minimal - if any. We're going to play it by ear and just continue to work on it."
Knight originally injured his left knee in San Antonio when he ran into Manu Ginobili. While the knee was sore in the game, he fought through it as the Bobcats finished out the overtime win.
"On the days in between (Wednesday and Saturday) it didn't respond well on our practice days, so we just wanted to let it calm down totally," Knight said. "It's still early in the year, so I didn't want to be out there limping in the beginning of the game, but now I feel pretty good."
Carroll dislocated his finger in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss in Orlando, but returned to action and is ready to go again tonight.
KNIGHT BACK AT PRACTICE
Both Brevin Knight and Matt Carroll were back at practice for the Bobcats on Sunday and are expected to be ready to go on Monday at 7 p.m. against the Dallas Mavericks at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
Knight (knee swelling) and Carroll (dislocated finger) are both listed as probable on the Bobcats injury report.
If Knight and Carroll are both able to play, it would be the first time this season that Charlotte would have a completely healthy lineup.
FELTON MIGHT BE OUT TWO GAMES
Raymond Felton may be out of tonight’s lineup with bruised ribs, but don’t expect to see the Bobcats second-year guard sidelined for long. After all, Felton has shown in the past that he wants to be on the court no matter what his condition and has no problems playing hurt.
While Bobcats fans have to be impressed by Felton’s dedication and passion for the game, they can also be thankful that General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff and Head Athletic Trainer Joe Sharpe are there to keep Felton in check when it may be best to rest an injury.
“If it was up to me, I am playing,” Felton said. “The way Joe is talking, it is going to be Sunday too, but I am trying to make it one (game) and do whatever I can to get back. No later then Tuesday -- I will definitely be back for Tuesday's game (at New Orleans/Oklahoma City).”
MORRISON STARTS, ANDERSON TO GET MINUTES
With Felton sidelined, Bickerstaff said rookie Adam Morrison will move into the starting lineup alongside Brevin Knight, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Jake Voskuhl. Alan Anderson will also be activated and should expect to see minutes in Felton’s absence, as Bickerstaff is still looking to solidify the Bobcats rotation.
“Alan is back -- the rotation other then six or seven guys, there has been no emergence,” he said. “That is what we are looking for, somebody to step up and solidify a part of the rotation. So from that point on, when you get to 8, 9, 10 you are looking.”
Anderson is looking forward to getting on the court after battling foot and back injuries and being inactive in Charlotte’s first four games this season.
“I have been back to normal since around Monday. The arch is feeling good,” he said. “When (playing time) is there, I am going to take advantage of it. You never know how much you are going to play -- like last year. So when I get the opportunity, I am going to make the best of it.”
Felton (ribs), Primoz Brezec (exhaustion) and Ryan Hollins will be inactive for tonight’s contest.
JB BICKERSTAFF SUSPENDED TWO GAMES
Bobcats assistant coach John-Blair Bickerstaff has been suspended without pay for two games for driving while impaired, in violation of the law of the State of North Carolina, the NBA announced today.
Bickerstaff will miss the Bobcats upcoming home games against the the Sonics tonight and Nuggets on Sunday.
FELTON TO MISS FRIDAY'S GAME
Raymond Felton will miss the Bobcats game on Friday against Seattle at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, as the MRI he had on Thursday revealed he had bruised ribs.
Felton left Wednesday’s 110-108 overtime loss in Boston in the third quarter with a back injury and did not return. He did not practice on Thursday.
With Felton unable to go against the Sonics, Adam Morrison, Matt Carroll or Bernard Robinson could step into the starting lineup alongside Brevin Knight, and General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said Robinson would move into the role of backup point guard as well.
“I would be comfortable in that situation,” Robinson said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve been out here doing it for a couple of weeks now, so I know the offense better. I’ll be alright if called upon. I’m sure they’re going to have to help me out a little bit, though.
“From watching Brevin and Ray, I know I would be able to do it exactly the same way they can do it, but I think I would be able to get the team into the offense and calm the team down.”
At 6-6 and 210 pounds, Robinson would also prove to be a difficult matchup for Charlotte’s opponents at the point.
“I have the height to see over my defender, and I think we would try to use that to our advantage as far as me being able to see what’s going on out there on the floor,” he said. “It also would probably work to our advantage on the defensive end, as I would probably be able to smother my man defensively and make things difficult for him.”
BREZEC DOING SOME RUNNING
While Felton was absent from Thursday’s practice, center Primoz Brezec was seen for the second-straight practice day running his teammates at the end of practice.
“Primoz is doing just a little bit,” Bickerstaff said. “He’ll do a drill where he can rest and that’s it. Nothing has changed.”
Brezec has been sidelined with exhaustion since November 1 and was expected to miss at least two weeks while recovering.
G-FORCE GOOD TO GO
Bobcats fans can breathe easy, as Gerald Wallace was back at practice on Thursday after taking a hard fall in Wednesday’s season opener against the Pacers that sidelined him for the second half of the contest.
“That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said of Wallace’s return to practice. “I guess they don’t call him the ‘rubber band man’ for nothing.”
After going to the locker room following the foul by Danny Granger with 3:28 remaining in the second quarter, Wallace knew he was in bad shape, but not as bad as many in the stands feared.
“Most of my pain was mainly just soreness,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “My back was real sore from where I landed on it, I had headache I got some Tylenol for that, my neck was a little sore -- those are things I am used to playing with, I am used to playing sore and used to playing with my body banged up.
“I haven’t slept though. It was kind of hard for me to sleep last night with my body hurting and sore and everything. I just tried to stay busy watching TV, watching movies, doing laundry and cleaning my room -- the usual house chores.”
When Wallace came in to practice Thursday morning, while the coaching staff and his teammates might have been a bit surprised he was ready to go, they weren’t about to keep him off the court.
“They never talked to me about it. I came in this morning and (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe (Sharpe) asked me how I felt and I told him basically just sore,” Wallace said. “I think their main focus was how my head was feeling. They just wanted to make sure I didn’t have a concussion or brain damage or anything. They said as long as that was fine, I was good to go.”
G-Force doesn’t seem to hold any animosity towards Granger for the takedown either. He acknowledged that he didn’t think there was anything underhanded about the play, and that Granger just caught him by surprise when he thought he was going in alone for the dunk.
“I told Brevin (Knight) last night that if I would have known (Granger) was there, I would have went up stronger” Wallace said. “I thought I was by myself and didn’t actually think anyone was close to me. Thinking that, I went up lackadaisical for an easy comfortable dunk and the slightest bump just knocked me off balance. When he hit me, I was so shocked that there was someone else there that by the time I realized I was in the air off balance, I was already on the floor.”
It appears Wallace will be ready to go as the Bobcats head to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies at 8 p.m. Friday on News 14. After all, as Wallace said, it was just “another typical hard fall.”
MORRISON THIRD STRAIGHT COVER BOY
Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) announced this week Adam Morrison has been selected the new face of NCAA March Madness 07, scheduled for release January 16, 2007 under the EA SPORTS brand.
“It is a great honor to be chosen to represent this game,” Morrison said. “I am huge video game fan myself, so it’s cool to be on the cover of one.”
Morrison is the third straight Bobcats player to be featured on the cover of an NCAA March Madness video game, joining current teammates Raymond Felton (2006) and Emeka Okafor (2005) as EA SPORTS cover athletes on the No. 1 selling college basketball videogame.
“He’s got some big shoes to fill, but I think he is going to be alright,” Felton said after Thursday’s practice. “He had a great game last night for his debut. It will be a process for him, but I think he will be okay -- he is learning each and every day, and I think he is going to do some of the same things Emeka and I did in our rookie seasons.”
The Bobcats have waived guard Kevin Burleson, and the roster now stands at 15 players heading into Opening Night on Wednesday, November 1 against Indiana at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.
"This is probably one of the most difficult decisions because of the two human beings that were involved," Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said after Monday's practice. "Kevin Burleson is just a class, class act. So it was a very difficult situation. The final decision was based on, here is a young man that is really really gifted -- and we are talking about Alan (Anderson) -- and we have to play it out and see what happens."
Burleson appeared in all eight preseason games with Charlotte and averaged 3.0 points, 2.0 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 16.4 minutes. In his rookie season with the team, Burleson made 39 appearances with one start and averaged 1.8 points and 1.2 assists.
He scored a career-high 11 points on November 12, 2005 at Miami, where he produced three steals and three assists in 12 minutes, while also connecting on a career-high 3-4 shots from the three-point line.
Burleson originally joined the Bobcats as a free agent on August 31, 2005.
BOBCATS WAIVE CONROY AND SMITH
The Bobcats requested waivers on guard Will Conroy and forward Donta Smith on Friday, October 20. The Bobcats roster now stands at 16 players.
Conroy appeared in five preseason games with the Bobcats and averaged 0.4 points and 1.0 rebounds in eight minutes. Smith saw limited action in four preseason games and averaged 0.8 points and 0.5 rebounds.
KNIGHT HEALING; HERRMANN OUT
Bobcats veteran point guard Brevin Knight is getting closer to returning to the court. He’s been sidelined with a right ankle sprain since the opening minutes of Charlotte’s first preaseason game, but is hoping to be back sometime this week.
“He thinks maybe he’ll be ready on Thursday,” Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said in his pregame press conference on Monday. “He’s walking around a little more, so that’s a good sign.”
While Knight might soon be back in Charlotte’s lineup, fans should not expect to see Walter Herrmann take the court this week.
“Herrmann is out. I think he’s talking about 7-10 days,” Bickerstaff said. “We just found out he’s been playing on a (strained right foot). He borrowed Brevin’s boot, so he’s in the boot now.”
It may be a much-needed break for the Argentinean forward. Since coming to the Bobcats, Herrmann has shot 0-9 from the field, including 0-6 from three-point range, and scored just one point in the first two preseason games.
“I think it’s a good thing, because he gets time off,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s just like Primoz in the World Championships – they spend all that time, so it’s good for them to get some time off. Herrmann came right over here after that.
“The part that he’s not doing is the least of my concerns, and that’s shooting and missing. That’s something I know the guy can do because I’ve watched it consistently. We just have to embrace him and tell him to keep firing it.”
EMPHASIS TO BE ON GAME DECORUM THIS SEASON
The NBA is constantly evolving and trying to enhance its product, and it’s not just the tools of the trade that have changed a bit this season.
The introduction of a new basketball has overshadowed another change heading into the 2006-07 season that could dramatically effect the game, as there are certain things NBA referees will be focusing on more intently this season.
Game decorum tops the list of what referees will be concentrating on this season. Gone are the days of players trying to show up referees on the court or following refs down the court complaining about a call. That’s not to say referees won’t let certain things slide that might happen in the heat of the moment, but the onus is now on the players and coaches to rein in their emotions, and the refs not to let things get out of hand.
Bobcats General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff understands the new focus will be something that could hurt teams if they don’t adhere to it.
“It's something we have to do,” he said. “I understand what it's about, and it doesn't look good (what has been done in the past), it's just a constant barrage of officials up and down.”
Bickerstaff has stressed in the past that his players need to not take each call personally, and will continue to do so this season.
“I know from personal situations that one thing that is really important is that you can't focus on two things at once,” Bickerstaff said. “You need to keep your focus on what it's about and that's the game. When you get distracted, it doesn't work.”
The new emphasis on game decorum is already something that has been discussed in the Bobcats locker room, and Bickerstaff and his players understand it’s not going to be an excessive crackdown that is going to result in multiple technical fouls being whistled throughout every contest.
“At some point you are going to get up on the wrong side of the bed,” Bickerstaff said. “We should all be allowed that -- it's the consistent barrage I think that's what they are about.”
Game decorum is not the only thing that NBA refs will be trying to address more closely this season. There will also be added emphasis on traveling and carrying violations, offensive and defensive three seconds violations, and not inhibiting a player’s freedom of movement.
BOBCATS VISIT REEDS JEWELERS
The Charlotte Bobcats team visited Reeds Jewelers, the presenting sponsor of training camp, on Sunday before taking part in the intrasquad scrimmage on the campus of UNC-Wilmington.
All players and coaches received gift certificates and bracelets, and they wandered the store for about an hour. Almost everyone made a purchase, whether for themselves or someone else.
"I bought a watch for my wife as a late anniversary present," guard Matt Carroll said. "It was a neat idea to have the team visit the store. We liked looking at all the jewelry and watches. The people at Reeds were very nice, and we enjoyed the experience."
There were drinks and snacks available while they browsed the store, and the players had the opportunity to mingle with the special guests that were invited to the event. They appreciated the one-on-one help that the Reeds employees provided and intend to visit the Reeds locations in Charlotte for additional purchases at a later date.
"As a Wilmington-based company, we were excited that the Bobcats were coming back to the area for training camp," said Alan Zimmer, President and CEO of Reeds. "We are proud of our affiliation with the Bobcats, and we hope to have more opportunities like this in the future."
- lady cats