By Matt Rochinski and Caroline Sikes
March 5, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. NETS
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Gerald Wallace
While many rookies begin to struggle against the “rookie wall” as the calendar turns to March, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist seems to have been re-energized by the All-Star break and is playing some of his best basketball of the season. MKG has scored in double-digits in five of seven games out of the break and is averaging 9.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He’s coming off his fourth double-double of the season after scoring 17 points and bringing down 10 rebounds on Saturday in Portland. MKG isn’t necessarily called upon to carry the Cats offensively, but as an aggressive rebounder, Charlotte fans would like to see these double-doubles become the norm… As is the case on most nights, Kidd-Gilchrist will draw one of the toughest defensive matchups when the Nets come to town against former Bobcat Gerald Wallace. Like MKG, Wallace isn’t a primary scoring option for Brooklyn but is relied on to put pressure on the opponent all over the court. Wallace is averaging 8.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.30 steals for the Nets and, like MKG, his defense can often be the catalyst to get Brooklyn going on the offensive end… This high-energy matchup between MKG and Wallace could be the key to getting the Cats a victory.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (13-47)
Although their record may not be indicative, the Bobcats have made significant strides in the right direction this season. The Cats rank sixth in the league in blocks with 6.2 and are led by Bismack Biyombo with 1.71 blocks (11th in NBA)… The Cats also have been taking care of the ball well and only average 14.0 turnovers, which is fifth least in the league… While Ramon Sessions averages 4.8 free throws (eighth in the league), the Bobcats are living at the charity stripe, coming in at second in the NBA, averaging 19.1 makes… Kemba Walker who contributes 17.3 points, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals (fourth in NBA), has led this young team all season. In his reserve role, Sessions continues supply energy off the bench with 14.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds… As a team that has struggled to protect the paint at times, the Cats turned things around in their last game against the Trail Blazers. Charlotte outrebounded Portland, 44-41, including 21 offensive boards leading to 22 second-chance points and outscored them in the paint, 60-50. The Bobcats will need to bring this same energy in the post when they face off against the Nets.
SCOUTING THE NETS (34-26)
The Nets travel to Charlotte having lost four of their last five games… The recent Brooklyn transplants have been led by Deron Williams as of late. In the last five games, Williams averages 22.0 points, 6.6 assists and 1.4 steals, including a 33-point performance in a win over the Hornets… Joe Johnson, who contributes 16.8 points and 3.6 assists on the season, missed three games at the end of February due to a heel injury. Since returning in the past two games, Johnson has scored 11 points in each contest, significantly lower than his season total… Center Brook Lopez continues to lead the team offensively, averaging 18.8 points along with 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks (seventh in the NBA)… As a team, the Nets have asserted themselves as a defensive threat by only allowing teams 94.9 points, good enough for fifth in the league… On the other end, the Nets haven’t been known for their ball movement this season as they third-to-last in the league in assists (20.1).
The Bobcats tip off against the Nets at 7 p.m. on March 6 at Time Warner Cable Arena®. Make sure you come out to support your Cats. If you can’t make it, watch the game on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Join fellow Bobcats fans by going to the live in-game chat at bobcats.com or by downloading the Bobcats app on your smartphone.