By Caroline Sikes
February 21, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. BULLS
Byron Mullens vs. Carlos Boozer
Since returning from an ankle injury, Byron Mullens has been white-hot offensively and a much-needed answer for the Bobcats frontcourt. In the eight games he’s played after coming back, Mullens is averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds, including an 18-rebound effort against the Celtics, setting a new career high. After starting off so hot, there was some concern from Mullens that the All-Star break might cool him off, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. In the two games the Bobcats have played during the second part of the season, Mullens has scored 20 and 15 points respectively, while grabbing 12 boards against the Magic for his eighth double-double of the season. Mullens will try to keep the streak alive when Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls come to town… After missing three games in early February (hamstring), Boozer seems to have returned to his normal pace as the month comes to a close. In the last five games, Boozer averages 15.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Despite missing three games, Boozer has scored in the double-figure range in 22 of the last 23 games… Mullens’ task will be to stop the Bulls second-leading scorer, while taking advantage of his size and shooting ability.
KEY MATCHUP vs. NUGGETS
Gerald Henderson vs. Andre Iguodala
Since being named Co-Captain, Gerald Henderson has stepped into a leadership role on this young Bobcats team and has not disappointed. Henderson is the Cats third-leading scorer, averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He has elevated his game even more in the last nine games, scoring in double figures in each contest during February. Henderson scored a season-high 24 points and tied his season-high 10 rebounds against the Magic on February 19 and will need to bring this all-around intensity when he takes on Andre Iguodala and the Denver Nuggets… On February 10, Iguodala left the game in the third quarter due to a strain and missed the Nuggets’ final two games before the break. He returned in their last game against the Celtics and played 29 minutes despite missing all seven field-goal attempts and only scoring one point. This performance is the exception, rather than the rule for Iguodala. The team’s third leading scorer averages 13.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.55 steals… Henderson’s task will be to not allow Iguodala to jump back into his groove on the offensive end.
The Bobcats have found recent success in wins over the Celtics and the Magic and look to build on this momentum while defending their home court against the Bulls and Nuggets… While Byron Mullens has stepped in and played well in the post, the Cats are still led by guard play. Kemba Walker leads the team in scoring, assists and steals with 17.4 points, 5.6 assists and 1.85 steals. Ramon Sessions comes off the bench for the Cats averaging 15.0 points, 3.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds. Sharpshooter Ben Gordon also averages double figures with 12.4 points, including 40.5 percent from 3-point territory… The big man, Bismack Biyombo, has provided Byron Mullens with some competition on the boards. Biyombo averages 7.2 rebounds (2.4 offensive boards) while adding 1.79 blocks, good enough for 11th in the league.
SCOUTING THE BULLS (31-22 as of 2/21)
With the Bulls currently ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference and trying to secure a spot in the playoffs, much discussion has surrounded Derrick Rose and his imminent return. There have been talks of Rose returning after the All-Star break, which makes it possible for him to return by the time they take on the Bobcats. The Bulls will face the Miami Heat before traveling to Charlotte, which may be a noteworthy game for Rose to make his season debut. Rose, however, doesn’t seem to be rushing back to play and is taking his time to make sure his knee is ready. In his continued absence, Nate Robinson has stepped into the lead point guard role, averaging 11.9 points, 4.1 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.11 steals. Luol Deng continues to be the driving force for the Bulls with averages of= 16.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steal.
SCOUTING THE NUGGETS (34-21 as of 2/21)
After dropping their last three games before the All-Star break, the Nuggets turned things around by beating the Celtics on February 19, avenging a triple-overtime loss just nine days before. The Nuggets will have to square off against an improving Wizards team before taking on the Bobcats… Danilo Gallinari, who averages 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists, has led the Nuggets offensively this season. He missed the final two games before break due to an illness, but came back strong with a 26-point performance against the Celtics. Ty Lawson has also been productive for the Nuggets in his fourth season in the NBA. The UNC product contributes 16.0 points, 7.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals, while scoring 26-plus in his last four games.
Make sure you come out to support your Cats as they take on the Bulls at 7 p.m. on February 22 and the Nuggets at 7 p.m. on February 23, with both games at Time Warner Cable Arena®. If you can’t make it out, catch the games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Follow the live in-game chat on bobcats.com or download the Bobcats app on your smartphone.
Chat Live vs. Nuggets