By Matt Rochinski
February 1, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. ROCKETS
Ramon Sessions vs. James Harden
Reserve guard Ramon Sessions was on a tear in January, averaging 15.9 points on 41.1 percent shooting from the field and 88.9 percent shooting from the free-throw line, while dishing out 3.9 assists, bringing down 3.1 rebounds and swiping 1.00 steal. Sessions broke the 20-point plateau four times in 14 games last month while averaging 28.2 minutes off the bench. The Cats need Sessions to stay hot as they head to Houston if they want to match the Rockets firepower in the backcourt, led by James Harden… With Charlotte going to a smaller lineup as of late with Kemba Walker, Sessions, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson all on the floor together, Sessions will get his chance to slow Harden defensively. Harden currently ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (25.9 points) and eighth in steals (1.85) while also adding 5.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds each contest. Harden has scored 20+ points in six-straight games, starting with a 29-point performance in Charlotte on January 21… The key for this one could be if Sessions can put up strong numbers offensively and help hold Harden to under 20 points on the defensive end.
KEY MATCHUP vs. HEAT
Gerald Henderson vs. LeBron James
Things don’t get any easier for the Cats on their five-game road trip, as they match up with LeBron James and the defending champion Heat in Miami on Monday. Gerald Henderson will more than likely draw the defensive matchup against James, but the Cats need him to get things done on the offensive end as well. If Hendo gets things going offensively and makes James work on the defensive end, it could be a benefit for Charlotte, because tiring James defensively could limit his offensive looks. Hendo is averaging 12.5 points for the Cats on the offensive end and is capable of catching fire from the field as he did in back-to-back games on January 18-19 in Orlando (17 points, 8-for-11 shooting) and against Sacramento (15 points, 7-for-15 shooting)… It’s no secret how effective James can be, as he had six 30+point performances in 13 January games and was held under 20 points just once. Among NBA leaders, James currently ranks fourth in scoring (26.5), 10th in assists (7.1), 11th in field goal percentage (0.548), 13th in steals (1.67) and 24th in rebounds (8.3). He’s also second in the league with two triple-doubles and ninth with 21 double-doubles.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (11-34)
The Bobcats opened their current five-game road trip with losses in Chicago and San Antonio but were competitive in both contests. The Cats won two games away from Time Warner Cable Arena® in January and with seven games on the road in February look to improve on their 5-16 record outside of Charlotte… One of two Cats Rising Star selections, Kemba Walker, continues to lead Charlotte and continued to improve on his game as January came to a close. In his last five games, Walker is averaging 21.0 points, 5.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.40 steals… Fellow Rising Star selection, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, needs to help shut down the Rockets and Heat defensively while also getting his offense back on track. MKG started January strong with double-digit scoring performances in four of the Cats first six games but hasn’t hit double figures since January 14 in Boston. Offense is not necessarily key to MKG’s game as he often makes an impact in other ways, averaging 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.00 block and 0.8 of a steal.
SCOUTING THE ROCKETS (25-23)
Since snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 100-94 win on January 21 in Charlotte, the Rockets have got back on track with wins in four of their last six games… While James Harden (25.9 points) carries the load for Houston, it also has tremendous balance for a second, third and even fourth scoring option with Chandler Parsons (14.2), Jeremy Lin (12.2), Patrick Patterson (10.9), Carlos Delfino (10.8) and Omer Asik (10.1) all averaging double figures. That production has Houston ranked second in the NBA in scoring (105.0 points)… As good as they’ve been offensively, the Rockets give up points defensively, where teams are averaging 102.7 points against them – the fourth worst in the league.
SCOUTING THE HEAT (29-13 as of 2/1/13)
After winning the NBA Championship last season, the Heat seemed poised to make another run in 2012-13. They entered Friday with the best overall record in the Eastern Conference, as well as the best record in the East on their home court (18-3) … As expected, LeBron James (26.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.67 steals) and Dwyane Wade (20.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.39 steals) carry the load for Miami, accounting for 46.0 percent of the offense… Veteran Ray Allen has been a solid addition for the Heat as well, posting 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 25.7 minutes as Miami’s primary reserve.
The Bobcats play at 8 p.m. on Saturday in Houston before heading to Miami for a 7:30 tip on Monday. Join us at the Carolina Ale House on Monday for the next stop on the Bobcats Watch Party tour. You can also catch both games on Fox SportsSouth or listen on WFNZ. Follow the live in-game chats by downloading the Bobcats app on your smartphone or by going to bobcat.com.
Chat Live vs. Heat
Watch Party Schedule