Archive for the ‘Charlotte Bobcats’ Category

Jerryd Bayless

If you watch a lot of NBA action, you know that the ability to play smart, well-executed basketball at the end of games can be worth from 5 to 10 wins over the course of a season. Since the Raptors are a young team, it shouldn’t be surprising that this has been a problem for them this season, and it was certainly what caused them to lose last night in Charlotte.

While Jerryd Bayless had his second straight strong performance as a starting point guard, he followed 34 minutes of electrifying play with a disastrous final minute. His questionable decision-making and careless ball-handling you’ll see in this clip killed the Raptors’ chances of pulling out a close win. I’ve also included Andrea Bargnani’s costly turnover after a key offensive rebound when he should have taken a second to gather himself before attempting the pass to reset the offence.

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Kent Smith/Getty Images

Yup, that's Nazr Mohammed having his way with the Raptors

This was a game the Raptors should have lost; playing against a better team (in my opinion) on the road. It’s not the loss in general that should frustrate Raptors fans. It’s the way the game was lost that should trouble fans.

Both teams had reason to come into this game hyped up. The Raptors were coming off of the biggest comeback in franchise history, while the Bobcats were coming off of a “pep-talk” from owner Michael Jordan after being decimated by the Celtics.

The first few minutes looked bad for the Raps, as Charlotte jumped out to an 8-2 lead and looked unstoppable through about six possessions. Jerryd Bayless settled the Raptors down, and Toronto actually cruised for much of the first half, opening up a 12-point lead at one point on agressive offence and tight defence.

However, any chance for the Raptors to take a comfortable lead into the break was squashed by their own doing. The Raps committed a nasty eight turnovers in the second quarter, and the Bobcats put together a nice run to the end the half, cutting the Raptors’ lead to just six.

The third quarter was more of the same for Toronto, as turnovers and some poor decisions on the offensive end had the score all even after three.

And then came the fourth, where both teams exchanged one-possession leads through the first six minutes, until the Bobcats took the lead for good. The Raptors sealed their own fate, as they committed 18 turnovers (most of them foolish and unforced), settled for some horrible looks and went just 11-of-21 from the free-throw line.

Another punch in the gut for the Raptors: Stephen Jackson fouled out in the fourth, and in the end, it was Tyrus Thomas who made the big buckets for the Bobcats.

As we get to the point-making part of this post, there are a few guys to single out. Andrea Bargnani was awful tonight. He missed open looks, looked disinterested and threw the ball away in the final minute after making his first hustle play of the night (an offensive rebound).

Jerryd Bayless was solid for most of the ball game, but tried to do too much late in the fourth, and committed some costly turnovers. Leandro Barbosa had a rough shooting night, and it has to be said, that for as many clutch shots as the Brazilian Blur makes, he takes as many questionable ones.

Sonny Weems continues his slow transformation into Jamario Moon (a guy who forgot what got him here in the first place). He’s taking shots that disrupt the team’s offence and that should force him to the bench, and isn’t playing with any energy on the other end. Case in point, a limping Gerald Wallace blew by Sonny with ease tonight. And is there anything more frustrating right now than Sonny Weems ruining every Raptors fast-break by pulling up for a jump-shot?

Ah yes, there is something more frustrating, that Sonny Weems is still being rewarded with playing time (given 36 minutes in Charlotte). Which brings me to my next point, Jay Triano is “coaching” miserably right now. There’s no punishment for guys like Weems when they are awful for two straight weeks, but then a guy like Julian Wright, who plays his butt off, is given only three minutes tonight because he made a couple of early mistakes.

In the NBA, coaches should be evaluated mainly on how they manage their rotations, their play-calling out of timeouts and the effort they get out of players. Jay Triano gets a one out of three this season (effort). The Raptors’ play-calling out of timeouts is truly laughable, and Jay’s rotation management may be even worse.

I’m not a Triano “hater,” and I’ve given him credit when credit is due, but as of late, he’s been brutal.

There were a few bright spots for the Raptors in Charlotte. Ed Davis was very good in 25 minutes of hard-fought basketball. He defended well, came down with some nice boards and chipped in six points. Amir Johnson was even better, picking up a double-double in 36 minutes. DeMar DeRozan had a decent ball game, as the youngster attacked the rim and knocked down most of his open jumpers en route to 14 points. He also threw down a vicious jam that should easily find its place on highlight reels.

To summarize after all that, I thought being an inferior ball club would do the Raptors in tonight, but it turned out turnovers, free throws and coaching were their downfalls, and that’s a sad way to lose a basketball game.

Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson -36 Min, 12 Pts, 5-9 FG, 2-4 FT, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

Bobcats Player of the Game: Nazr Mohammed – 19 Min, 18 Pts, 8-11 FG, 2-5 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 28 Min, 12 Pts, 4-14 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 3-5 FT, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO

Michael Jordan and Stephen Jackson

Any time two first overall draft picks meet in an NBA game, it’s almost always a time for excitement. Considering that the two players involved tonight are Andrea Bargnani and Kwame Brown, this is not one of those times.

At 8-15, the Bobcats are only one win behind the Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings, but the two teams should enter this game with very different levels of confidence. Charlotte lost 93-62 to the Celtics on Saturday and didn’t score more than 16 points in any quarter, while Toronto came from 25 points behind for a semi-inspirational 120-116 win over the Pistons on the same day.

As you might expect from a bad team coached by Larry Brown, they’re decent defensively but they tend to have trouble making buckets. The Raptors’ porous defence might be just what they need to snap out of their recent funk — I’m pretty sure M.J. could suit up and drop 20 on this team.

Injury report

Toronto: Jose Calderon didn’t travel with the team, so Jerryd Bayless gets another start at point guard.

Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas is expected to play tonight in spite of a quadriceps injury.

Five questions

1. Can the Raptors break their five-game streak of giving up at least 113 points to their opponents? Charlotte has topped that figure in just two of their 23 games this season (against Phoenix and Minnesota).

2. If Bayless has another strong night similar to his 31-point, 7-assist, 5-rebound performance against Detroit, will there be another point guard controversy on the Raptors?

3. Is Andrea Bargnani becoming a playmaking center? After just 30 assists in his first 21 games this season, he has 11 assists in his last three games.

4. Does anyone know who holds the NBA record for the most different teams played on by a first overall pick? The Bobcats are Kwame Brown’s fifth team.

5. Would you be willing to bet money that Larry Brown will make it through the season in Charlotte without “leaving to spend more time with his family”? I wouldn’t.

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Charlotte: D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Nazr Mohammed

Your pregame song for tonight is “Broke Ass Holiday” by One Block Radius. Take it from me, you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy the holiday season.

Stephen Jackson

Nice ink, Stephen. That makes Brock Lesnar's sword tattoo look wimpy in comparison.

The Bobcats and Raptors are both 1-6 going into this game, which means the loser will have sole possession of last place in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors’ poor start isn’t particularly surprising but I didn’t expect the Bobcats to be this bad. To be fair, five of their six losses were by 10 points or less and their last two losses were by a combined seven points to the Magic and Spurs. So while they probably aren’t going to match their 44-win total from last season, they’re probably not as bad as their record suggests.

The biggest difference between this season’s and last season’s Bobcats is their defence — they had the top Defensive Rating in the NBA last season with 102.8 points allowed per 100 possessions while they’re 19th so far this season with a 107.6 D-Rating. The loss of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton from last year’s squad probably has something to do with that, at least that’s what coach Larry Brown alludes to when he said, “We caused more turnovers (last season) simply because of quickness.”

As I pointed out in my recap of the Raptors’ loss to the Warriors, Jay Triano might be coaching for his job this game because a loss tonight could be easily followed by a string of losses in the subsequent road games against the Magic, Heat, Wizards and 76ers. If I was an anthropomorphic clipboard, I’d probably find a nice closet to hide in at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

Injury report

Toronto: Leandro Barbosa will miss tonight with a shoulder strain but Jarrett Jack and Sonny Weems are expected to play through their injuries.

Charlotte: Nobody significant, although Kwame Brown is out indefinitely until they determine why his hands persistently smell like cabbage.

Five questions

1. Can Andrea Bargnani bounce back from his worst game of this young season?

2. Why doesn’t Larry Brown give Tyrus Thomas more playing time? Even though his per-36-minute averages for points, rebounds and steals lead the team, he’s averaging just 21.6 minutes per game.

3. If the Bobcats keep losing, how long do you give Larry Brown before he “retires” due to “health reasons”?

4. Did you know that DeSagana Diop is the only one out of 133 active players with over 1,000 career personal fouls who has more fouls (1,152) than points (1,125)?

5. Do you think Stephen Jackson got annoyed when he learned that Marquis Daniels got a gun-related tattoo more messed-up than his?

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Liveblog: James Borbath on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Charlotte: D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Nazr Mohammed

Your pregame song is “Mince Meat” by Danger Doom because whichever team loses this game is, well… you know.