By David Walters
January 31, 2012
Gerald Henderson vs. Kobe Bryant
Henderson (15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals) has missed a few games lately due to a sore lower back but the Bobcats will have their leading scorer back in action against the Lakers… Hendo is one of the team’s best defenders and often draws the assignment against the opposing team’s best wing player… In this case, that player is the league's top scorer, Kobe Bryant (30.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals)… Bryant has cooled off recently after a string of 40+ point games but is still playing as good as any player in the league right now… The Bobcats will have their hands full trying to slow Bryant, but having Henderson’s athleticism and defense back in the lineup gives them a good chance..
Tyrus Thomas vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
This matchup features two players who were traded for each other in the 2006 NBA Draft… Thomas (7.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) has played well for the Bobcats lately, particularly in his last three games where he has averaged 11.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks… Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge (22.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists) leads the Blazers and has emerged as force around the basket with an array of post moves and his improved mid-range jump shot… Thomas’ defense could go a long way in helping the Bobcats get past the Blazers if he can contain Aldridge and keep him from having a big game.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (3-18)
The Bobcats come into this West Coast swing on a season-high eight-game losing streak after dropping a close game to the Wizards on Saturday… Charlotte has been hampered by injuries lately but will have DJ White (9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds) and recently activated guard Reggie Williams, who plans on making his Bobcats debut during this trip… Rookie Kemba Walker (12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals) is coming off a great game after recording his first career triple-double with 20 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in a career-high 43 minutes against the Wizards on Saturday… Byron Mullens (11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds) also got back on track Saturday, scoring a career-high 23 points… Boris Diaw recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists against the Wizards as the team’s primary playmaker, and guard Matt Carroll has found his shot and has averaged 13.6 points in his last three games… The Bobcats have historically matched up well with the Lakers and have won eight of their last 11 meetings… This will be the Bobcats only meetings against the Lakers and Blazers, as neither team makes a trip to Charlotte this season due to the shortened schedule.
SCOUTING THE LAKERS (12-9)
The Lakers have gotten off to a slow start this season under the new regime of Coach Mike Brown and haven’t scored over 100 points in their last 11 games… Although center Andrew Bynum (16.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks) is having a career season, the Lakers seem to be reverting back to the days where they needed Kobe to put the team on his back and, due to age and the myriad of injuries that Bryant has played with, that could drop the Lakers back into the middle of the pack in a loaded Western Conference… The Lakers still have talented power forward Pau Gasol (16.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists) down low, but after their big three, there is a steep decline in production for Los Angeles… Matt Barnes (7.3 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Derek Fisher (5.4 points, 4.1 assists) round out the starting lineup for the Lakers, who have been tough to beat at home with a 10-2 record at the Staples Center.
SCOUTING THE BLAZERS (12-8 as of 1/30)
The Blazers came into this season with high expectations but have also had their ups and downs… The Blazers have two former Bobcats in their starting lineup in the energetic Gerald Wallace (13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) and point guard Raymond Felton (10.4 points, 6.7 rebounds)… Shooting guard Wesley Matthews (13.6 points, 3.2 rebounds) is a strong defender, and sixth man Jamal Crawford (13.1 points, 3.6 assists) is instant offense off the bench among the league’s best reserves… Veteran Center Marcus Camby (10.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) is still an intimidating presence down low and has averaged 19.3 rebounds per game in his last three outings; Charlotte will have to focus on him as they have had trouble with long, defensive-minded rebounders this season (i.e. Tyson Chandler)… The Blazers are also a tough out at home, sporting a Western Conference best 9-1 home record… Although the Blazers are penciled in as a contender in the West, they just lost a game to the Pistons, who rank as one of the worst teams in the league in most categories.
The Bobcats tipoff at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday against the Lakers before traveling to Portland to face the Blazers at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Catch all the action on SportSouth, listen to us on WFNZ and join us for the live chats on bobcats.com.
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