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HORNETS VS. BOBCATS
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
December 1, 2010

Led by veteran NBA head coach Larry Brown a star guard for the citys New Orleans Buccaneers ABA team back in the 1960s the Charlotte Bobcats visit the Hornets in Wednesdays interconference matchup. The Bobcats started 2010-11 sluggishly, going 1-6 in their first seven games, but put together a subsequent stretch of four wins in six outings, including beating Toronto, Washington, Minnesota and 2010 playoff qualifier Phoenix.

Wednesdays meeting is the first of two head-to-head encounters between the Hornets and Bobcats this season. The clubs will face off for a second time over a two-month period on Saturday, Jan. 15, in North Carolina.

Charlotte reached the NBA postseason for the first time in franchise history in 2010. The Bobcats hopes of returning to the playoffs in consecutive years are spearheaded by the talented wing tandem of shooting guard Stephen Jackson and small forward Gerald Wallace, a first-time All-Star last season. Charlotte also boasts a pair of players with significant local connections, including New Orleans native D.J. Augustin (a graduate of Brother Martin High School) and LSU product Tyrus Thomas, a Baton Rouge native.

After backing up starting point guard Raymond Felton in previous years, Augustin took over the first-string role this summer when Felton signed a multi-year free-agent contract with the New York Knicks. Thomas has been one of the Bobcats most important backups during the early portion of the season.

Along with Thomas, the Bobcats have two other players who played in the SEC during their college days, Wallace (Alabama) and center Nazr Mohammed (Kentucky).



INTRIGUING MATCH-UP


Small forward, Trevor Ariza vs. Gerald Wallace
Few opposing defensive players can match the 6-foot-7 Wallaces unique blend of size, wingspan, athleticism and leaping ability, but the 6-foot-8 Ariza is as well-equipped as anyone. Wallace uses that combination to rank among the NBAs leaders in rebounds and blocked shots, while also serving as one of Charlottes primary scoring threats year in and year out. Ariza and the New Orleans team defense will try to keep a body on Wallace, keeping him away from attacking the offensive boards, where hes often able to thrive. Ariza has been an anchor for a vastly-improved Hornets defense that held its first 10 opponents under 100 points.



HORNETS.COM SCOUTING REPORT
A closer look at the Charlotte Bobcats:


D.J. Augustin


Stephen Jackson

GUARDS
On a Bobcats team with several Louisiana and Gulf Coast connections, Bobcats third-year point guard D.J. Augustin is the player most closely tied to the New Orleans area. Augustin, who graduated from New Orleans Brother Martin High School before starring at the University of Texas, always has a sizeable cheering section in the New Orleans Arena when Charlotte comes to town. Hes made himself right at home on the Hornets home floor: In two previous appearances, Augustin has gone a combined 8-for-9 from three-point range. During the second month of his rookie season, he tallied 28 points in New Orleans, one of the best games of his NBA career (as of late November, his highest single-game offensive output as a pro was 29 points).

Shooting guard Stephen Jackson is Charlottes go-to scorer, a versatile wing who can post up, slash to the basket or drill three-pointers. The Texas native first gained acclaim around the NBA in 2003, when he was a starter for the champion San Antonio Spurs. He later was a centerpiece for the Golden State Warriors during their historic upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Jackson helped the Warriors become the first eighth-seeded team in league annals to defeat a No. 1 seed in a best-of-seven series. True to his track record, in 2009-10 Jackson was the leading scorer for a Bobcats squad that qualified for the NBA playoffs for the first time since joining the league in 2004-05.

The career of backup point guard Shaun Livingston has frequently been derailed by injuries, causing him to miss the entire 2007-08 NBA season, as well as large chunks of several others. A big point guard at 6-foot-7, Livingston has been a reliable performer early in 2010-11, shooting over 50 percent from the field.

Third-string point guard Sherron Collins is in his rookie season after a successful career at the University of Kansas. In the Jayhawks programs storied history, Collins accumulated more victories than any other player.

Matt Carrolls specialty is spot-up shooting, although he has been used only sporadically early in the season.

FORWARDS
A first-time All-Star last season, small forward Gerald Wallace contributes in countless ways at both ends of the floor for the Bobcats. The Alabama native is Charlottes second-leading scorer and its most athletic player. One of the NBAs most aggressive players, Wallace has earned the nickname Crash for how frequently he ends up on the floor as a result of relentless hustle and drives to the basket. Hes a fearless driver who is capable of highlight-reel dunks on a regular basis. Hes also an outstanding shot-blocker and rebounder, based on his above-average athleticism, leaping ability and timing.

A former lottery pick from LSU, Tyrus Thomas appears to have found an NBA home in Charlotte after beginning his pro career with the Chicago Bulls. Thomas is a high-flying energy guy who is difficult to keep off the backboards on both ends of the floor.

Like teammates Jackson and Wallace, one of power forward Boris Diaws best attributes is his versatility and ability to help the Bobcats win games in several categories. A former NBA Sixth Man of the Year with Phoenix in 2005-06 (the Hornets David West finished as a runner-up that season), the native of France has been a starter for Charlotte since arriving in a trade during the 2008-09 season. Diaw may be Charlottes most skilled passer, often finding teammates with pinpoint feeds while stationed away from the basket.

In his second NBA season, Xavier (Ohio) product Derrick Brown has capitalized on an increased role, after appearing in 57 games as a rookie.

Defensive-minded Dominic McGuire signed with the Bobcats as a free agent after a combined three prior seasons with Washington and Sacramento.

A Charlotte first-round pick in 2009, small forward Gerald Henderson is trying to cement a permanent spot in the rotation. The Duke product played in 43 games last season.

CENTERS
Charlottes starting center position has been manned in past seasons by current Hornets starter Emeka Okafor, as well as former Hornets big man Tyson Chandler, who was traded by the Bobcats to the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2010. The job is now held by Nazr Mohammed, who has done some stellar work early in 2010-11, including racking up 22 points and 20 rebounds in a Nov. 13 game against the Utah Jazz.

Kwame Brown was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, but has never lived up to his billing as a potential star in the league, instead becoming a role player who has started roughly 40 percent of his games over a 10-year career. Interestingly, although Brown did not come close to meeting expectations after being drafted by Michael Jordan in 01 when the NBA legend was an executive with the Washington Wizards, Jordan now the owner of the Bobcats chose to sign Brown as a free agent this summer.

DeSagana Diop brings rebounding and shot-blocking to the Charlotte lineup. The former Cleveland lottery pick was a starter for the Dallas Mavericks team that reached the 2006 NBA Finals.

Players the Bobcats want shooting free throws in a close game
Name Career FT percentage (through Nov. 29)
D.J. Augustin 85.6
NOLA native nearly shot 90 percent as rookie in 2008-09.
Matt Carroll 84.9
Seldom-used guard is in his second stint with Bobcats.
Stephen Jackson 79.9
Teams best scorer made 39 of first 42 FTs this season.
If the Bobcats need a three-pointer, three of their best options are
Name Career 3-pt percentage (through Nov. 29)
D.J. Augustin 40.9
Third-year pro drained five treys Oct. 30 at Milwaukee.
Matt Carroll 39.4
Connected on career-best 111 threes in 2006-07.
Stephen Jackson 34.2
Off to best start of his career from beyond the arc.




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