Keys to Beat 76ers, Blazers

By Matt Rochinski and Caroline Sikes
November 29, 2012

Kemba Walker vs. Jrue Holiday

Both point guards are leading their respective teams in points and assists. Walker has demonstrated his leadership ability, averaging 16.5 points and 5.6 assists to go along with 2.07 steals (sixth in NBA). Walker has shown an instinctive ability to score and isn’t afraid to have the ball in his hands late in the game… Jrue Holiday is putting up elite numbers early in the season and Walker will have the assignment to slow the 76ers star point guard. Holiday averages 18.5 points and 9.1 assists and currently ranks third in the NBA in assists, seventh in field goals made (107), and 10th in total points (278). Holiday has had problems holding on to the ball. He’s first in the league in turnovers, averaging 4.4… With Walker’s ability to swipe the ball from opponents, it will be interesting to see how many turnovers he forces Holiday to commit.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Nicolas Batum

Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has made the type of impact the Bobcats were hoping for on the offensive and defensive ends when they drafted him with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. MKG currently ranks sixth on the Cats with 11.0 points per contest but is second on the team in blocks (1.43) and offensive rebounds (2.0) and third in total rebounds (6.4) and steals (1.21). While MKG saw his string of five straight games scoring in double figures snapped on November 26 in Oklahoma City, look for him to get back on track heading into Charlotte’s three-game homestand. MKG is averaging 12.9 points, 7.8 rebounds (2.5 offensive), 1.8 blocks and 1.6 assists in eight games at Time Warner Cable Arena®, so some home cooking could be exactly what he needs… MKG and Nicolas Batum are comparable players, in that they are both freakishly athletic young players who find ways to contribute all over the court on both offense and defense. Batum entered the weekend ranked third on the Trail Blazers with 17.9 points to go with 5.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.73 steals and 1.07 blocks in 15 starts. Whoever is able to lock down the other player defensively could be the key to coming out with a win.

The Bobcats return home after playing their last three games on the road. The Cats were 1-2 during that span and shot 36.5 percent from the floor. They allowed opponents to shoot 42.7 percent, which is lower than the 44.3 percent they’ve allowed for the season…The Cats continue to get the job done from the free throw line where they are sixth in the league, shooting 78.6 percent… Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions lead the Cats in scoring, both averaging 16.5 points… After dropping 26 points against the Hawks, Ben Gordon is now third on the team with 13.5 points… Having two of the Cats three top scorers coming off the bench in Sessions and Gordon is a weapon most teams aren’t prepared to take on. Both guards have experience on their side to take over late in a game and also match up on defense with opponents scoring threats.

The 76ers have won their last two games as they travel to Charlotte on Friday. Philadelphia only allows opponents to score 87.4 points when they are the visiting team… Jrue Holiday (18.5 points), Thaddeus Young (14.0) and Evan Turner (13.5) account for 49.6 percent of the 76ers offense, so it will be crucial for the Bobcats defense to find a way to slow them… The 76ers also distribute the ball well, averaging 21.4 assists on 35.2 made field goals… After Philadelphia acquired Andrew Bynum from the Lakers in a four-team trade during the off-season, the 7-footer has been declared out indefinitely due to ongoing knee issues.

By the time the Blazers get to Charlotte, they will probably anxiously be awaiting a return to the West Coast. The Bobcats host Portland in the sixth game of their seven-game road trip that started off with losses in Brooklyn, Detroit and Washington before the Blazers head to Boston and Cleveland over the weekend… LaMarcus Aldridge is Portland’s anchor inside, putting up 20.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.21 blocks in 14 games. He’s got the ability to go off on any given night for the Blazers, as he’s already had 32- and 27-point games on the road so far in Detroit and Houston, respectively… Like MKG, rookie point guard Damian Lillard is making an early case for Rookie of the Year with 19.1 points, 6.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.40 steals. However, Lilard can be rattled, as evidenced by his team-leading 3.2 turnovers per contest. Look for Kemba Walker to make Lilard force the action and make bad decisions.

Make sure you come out and support the Bobcats as they return home to play the 76ers on November 30 at 7 p.m. and take on Portland at 7 p.m. Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena®. The first 1,500 kids will receive a free Ben Gordon poster on Friday. If you can’t make it out, catch the games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. You can also go to or download the Bobcats app on your smartphone to follow the live in-game chats.

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