Preview & Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

Kurt —  January 27, 2009

Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles Lakers

Records: Lakers 35-8 (1st in West) Bobcats 18-26 (11h in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.0 (1st in league) Bobcats 103.1 (27th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (5th in league) Bobcats 105.1 (7th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Emeka Okafor.

On the Road Again: After tonight’s game the Lakers head for the six-game “Grammys” road trip (yes, the most meaningless award show of them all will fill Staples for a while). It’s a road trip that includes games against Boston and Cleveland. It all is the start of the toughest couple months in the Lakers schedule. With this trip, it’s a good thing to have Jordan Farmar back, who looked sharp in his return. Sometimes you learn things being forced to just watch, we’ll see if that’s the case here.

Speaking of Boston — this is the worst idea ever. EVER. I refuse to run the photo, but whatever NBA exec thought that a good St. Patrick’s Day selling point was a Lakers shirt in Celtics green — with a shamrock on the sleeve — firing is not good enough. I’m not a fan of extraordinary rendition, of going Jack Bauer on people, but this may be the exception. This could have come from the good people at Adidas, I don’t know. But somebody really didn’t think this through.

Way Off Topic, But StillI think this is a pretty good idea — shouldn’t Moses Malone’s jersey be retired in Philly?

The Bobcats Coming in: The Bobcats come into Staples with lots of old “friends” of the Lakers — Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to start. And while those two have had to adjust from the high-flying style of last year’s Suns to the grind it out style of Larry Brown they seem to be doing it very well — both had 18 points in the loss to Indiana a couple nights ago.

This team really has the feel of a Larry Brown-coached team (and not just because he openly covets everyone not on his roster). The Bobcats play hard, and particularly on the defensive end. They grind you down with a slow offensive style. And they are getting better — they are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

The key has been the much-better play of PG Raymond Felton — a 43% (eFG%) shooter on the season he is hitting 50% in the last 10 games, He has always gotten teammates involved (about 7 assists per game) but when he is scoring and not just dishing the ball the Bobcats are harder to defend. Basically, they run him off a ton of pick-and-rolls, nothing fancy but it works when he is on his game. And lately he has been on his game.

For a much more in depth look at the Bobcat guards, check out Queen City Hoops, which breaks it down in way, way more detail.

Keys to game This team is not going to be a pushover. The Bobcats have beaten Boston, New Orleans and Utah already this season. They will play hard, they will not just melt away, and they have some matchups that could frustrate the Lakers. Yes, LA should win, but don’t bet on a blowout.

Tempo is going to be key — the Lakers play at the fifth fastest pace in the league and average six or seven more possessions a game than the Bobcats (27th fastest). If the Bobcats are getting their way, the game does not have many possessions, they grind out a defensive win. It’s very Larry Brown of them. The Lakers, especially the reserves with Farmar back at the helm, need to blow past this team and get some easy buckets in transition, if they do it will be hard for the offensively-challenged Bobcats to catch up.

While the Bobcats do play good defense, their one weakness is on the boards — they allow opponents to grab 27.7% of their missed shots, which is in the bottom 10 in the league. The Lakers, with their long front line, should be able to exploit this and get some put backs and second chances.

The Lakers need to defend the pick-and-roll well, one of the keys to their offense is Felton getting into the lane. We know how quick PGs can give the Lakers fits, but LA can do a good job defending this (see Parker, Tony). If Felton is getting into the lane the Lakers will have issues.

The other tough match up is Gerald Wallace (who is a tough match up for anyone, he is good). I tend to think of Wallace as a stronger better version of Trevor Ariza, they have a somewhat similar game. One thing the Bobcats do is get him the ball in the post, but that may not work with long guys like Walton and Ariza on him. Wallace is a beast in the post or slashing into the lane but shoots just 36.6% on his jumpers — they key is getting him to shoot those and not layups.

If the Lakers can get a lead in this one they should be able to hold it, but to get that they will need to run the offense and hit the open man — the Bobcats love to block shots and leave their man to do it. There is space against them to score, but you have to be smart.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start and it is Fox Sports here in LA and NBA TV nationwide. Hey, NBA fans, why would you vote to watch this game instead of San Antonio and Utah?

250 responses to Preview & Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

  1. Ugh…it’s only going to get harder after this on the road.


    I just don’t understand it!!!

  3. Horrible game for the Lakers. You know though, they didnt play that well against the Spurs either, Spurs just played bad. Not surprising, Lakers got outhustled and deserved to lose.

  4. Hard to search for positives in this game, but one thing had to be Bynum’s growth. This kid is stepping up. He’s a force on the offensive side and a force on the defensive side. I just wish the Lakers would actually give him the ball more instead of relying on their 3s.

  5. Lakers were outplayed by the Bobcats! nuff said….allow 56 pts in the paint?? come on!! You can’t expect to win if you’re gonna allow that…

  6. Speaking of bynum’s growth, did anyone else notice grey hairs? Is kareem stressing him out a little too much?

  7. Horrible game for the Lakers. Give the bobcats credit, they outhustled the Lakers and deserved to win. I think there is no doubt this team is lacking some toughness, we dont seem to win close games.

  8. Thanks Wagner!…i’ll be here all day….and don’t forget to tip your waitress!….night all

  9. Key to beat Lakers:

    Get Kobe in foul trouble!

  10. Other positive: we won’t see them in the playoffs, but maybe in like 3 years.

  11. Another positive: the Bobcats have no fans to come in here and gloat.

  12. Adventures in the Inaccuracy of the Plus/Minus Statistic: Part Deux

    Pau Gasol +7
    Andrew Bynum -10

    With that in mind, here’s the difference in the game

    Assists, LA 19, CHA 31
    Rebounds LA 42 CHA 53

    What does this mean? Well they got easier baskets then us, they cleaned up their defensive rebounds (and offensive rebounding is perhaps our teams greatest strength), our top scorer fouled out, and our 2nd top scorer had a terrible game.

    I have a feeling this game we really missed having Ariza and Jordan at 100%.

  13. Damn people, suddenly the Lakers can’t win a close game? Um, not that long ago wasn’t everybody complaining that the Lakers kept winning close games and weren’t blowing everyone out?

    And, every time the Lakers lose somebody is going to fall back on the toughness card. Some teams are just matchup problems for you, and out hustle you, and that has nothing to do with toughness.

  14. and they say this team would be “good” if kobe was not on the team. seriously this team doesnt amount to much without kobe.

  15. 204- I loved the way Drew played too. His moves, as exelhdvr has pointed out all season, are looking more and more instinctual, and less mechanical. Great sign for the future.

    Also, hope Trevor is o.k., Juawan has old skool elbows and sets old skool screens.

    Phil outthought himself tonight. I know bringing in Farmar wasn’t a crazy idea, but I’d left Luke in and try to let him feed Pau and Drew. Spot up Fish and Sasha on the weakside for the ball reversal, but hey, it could’ve worked with Jordan. My only thing is, in clutch situations, Pau should be in over LO, no matter how bad Pau is playing. Pau has earned that right, and LO was not doing anything special to warrant time over Pau.

  16. A bad shooting night by Pau was more or less cancelled out by the Bobcats’ free throws.

    I think this team is just well equipped to deal with our Lakers, especially now, with Raja irking Kobe (first foul-out this season), and Diaw who is difficult to stop if he has all aspects of his game going.

    Anyway, it’s amazing to realize that Kobe with 3 fingers is better than the next person on our bench.

  17. This game shouldn’t have even been as close as it was. The Bobcats outplayed us. However this is what the’ve been doing lately. In their last 15 games they’ve beaten us, Boston, Portland, Phoenix, and Detroit. And they lost to the Spurs by 2. I’m not making excuses, I’m just making the point that they’re playing well and we didn’t step up to match their effort for the entire game. We made two big pushes in the entire game but *that* is not enough against an NBA team that is playing well. Not against any team.

  18. bynums stats tonight are impressive though. 6 blocks most of them in OT, good growing game i suppose.
    we got outrebounded too much this game but kobe just makes things run during crunch time. it’s alright though not a bad loss (Even if a loss is still a loss)

    hey the bobcats beat the celts too

  19. wow, wallace is on his way to the hospital with a possible collapse lung. that’s bad. wish him the best.

  20. The Machine needs some re-calibration. Either that or someone needs to push emergency stop button so that he won’t just keep jacking up shots like no tomorrow.

    This lost might also be karma I guess. I feel bad for Gerald Wallace. Damn he sounded painful.

  21. Forget the supposed ‘lack of toughness’ (yawn), forget Kobe fouling out, forget the Bobcats’ improvement over the last several games – this team obviously has some sort of hex over the Lakers. No matter how bad they are or how good the Lakers are, they always cause headaches and often win. It’s absolutely baffling. Raymond Felton in particular seems to start channeling Isiah Thomas whenever he faces the Lake Show.

  22. Well, I think this answers the question of how to beat the Lakers. Deny Kobe and Gasol early, get them tired, force other guys to make key shots out of position. Keep them away from their sweet spots.

    Run an offense that forces the Lakers to switch until they break down. Keep up the pressure. Feed the hot hand.

    Derek Fisher played a heroic game–making key baskets and a remarkable full court pass to Gasol. Andrew proved that he was for real. Sasha was a disaster in the end. Under pressure at the end, Lamar was Lamar and Luke was Luke.

    Vladamir was inspired for the short time he was in.

    The Bobcats ran Brown’s plan to perfection and exceeded the Laker’s intensity.

  23. Yeah, this loss doesn’t sting that much that I would have thought, seeing as how good the Bobcats are playing lately.

    And we’re still in the single digits in the loss column, and only a full game behind for the best record in the league.

    While it was a bit disappointing how the Lakers played tonight, I don’t think this is enough to warrant any major alarm. I’ll start panicking when we pull off a 10 game losing streak for a 38-19 record =p

  24. It just seemed like the ball was not bouncing our way tonight. Like PJ said, it was just the luck of the dice. Bynum, nice game tonight for him indeed.

    You can’t win them all.

  25. oh and i find it kind of ironic the final scores are exactly the same as the kings vs cavs final scores.
    except we got the shorter end of the stick

  26. And also.. I hope Gerald Wallace is alright. Collapsed lung? Sounds fatal.. or painful at the very least *knock on wood* D:

  27. 213. Thank you Kurt. It’s amazing the kind of hyperbole that gets used after a loss. I count 10 games that were decided by 5 or less points. The Lakers won 6 of them. Not that bad people.

  28. I think we need a tribute piece for Sasha, Lamar, Vlad and Luke.

    That post for Fisher worked wonders.

  29. 176 &179 If you were referring to Luke throwing a
    bad inbound pass, the fault was Lamars. He drove for
    the basket and then stopped. Once you start you must
    continue. Luke’s mistake was trusting him.

  30. Kurt,

    Indiana- 117-118 L, Washington 106-104 W, New York 116-114 W, Miami 87-89 L, Orlando 103-106 L, Indiana 121-119 W, Miami 108-105 W, San Antonio 111-112 L.

    In games decided by less than 5 points, the Lakers are only 4-4….that is not a sign of a championship team. The great teams should usually come through in the tough games. And mostof those wins are against bad opponents, which really dont mean nothing.

    Lakers to me do not play good defense down the stretch too often. The color commentator for the Lakers said it, how many times do two guys try to stop penetration, leaving the shooter for the wide open 3? I am sick of seeing it. Things like that needs to stop. You got a 3 point lead, dont give up a wide open 3!

    All I am saying is, the Lakers got to get tougher, and a lot of that is mental, not just physical. Talent is not the issue, and scoring is almost never the issue besides tonight. A lack of toughness is there. I am not doubting this team, I believe they will improve and start to pull these wins out more, I am just saying its not all there yet.

  31. The Lakers loss tonight will be more painful after Bynum gets suspended for a few games. The slow-mo replays of his idiotic hit on Wallace, plus the news that Wallace is hospitalize, is going to cost us.

  32. Get well Wallace . Great game for drew tonight, his post moves are looking more polished. I expect to see him fed more and more in the post as his teammates trust him. Did everyone see how many shots he altered? Hes too long and strong. The kids a monster!!!!

  33. 231- What were you watching? Bynum’s foul was not purposeful in the least. If you watch the replay, he didn’t thrust his elbow into Wallace at all. It was more a matter of Wallace running into his elbow at a high velocity and unfortunately, just hitting him in the wrong spot. I will be shocked if a suspension results.

  34. Bynum did not intend to knock a guy out, but he did not go after the ball either. I watched that a few times and he was late getting there, turned sideways and I think was trying to foul. Not to have it end up like that, but he was not giving up the layup.

  35. 212 Zephid: what was the inaccuracy of the +\- part one?

    Also it’s toigh to blame Luke for that inbound play, maybe he missed a pass to Sasha but nobody else was getting open and Sasha would have been forced into a hero shot-a fadeaway corner three as the buzzer sounded. Not what we want to see.

    Otherwise I am also very pleased withandrew again tonight.

    For those of you defending pau with regards to softness, I am not taking any sides but he obviously did not play well tonight…instead of going through the softness argument let’s take it from a different angle: what causes pau to have bad nights? I hope it’s just the classic fact that everyone has bad nights, but is there a common trend? How did defenses play him last year in the playofs and what worked and what didn’t? I can’t analyze it myself but it would be interesting.

  36. Ah, the latest installment in the riveting series, “X is not the sign of a championship-caliber team… just because I, some random fan, say so!” How… riveting.

  37. 224. You can’t win them all… unless, apparently, you are the Bobcats playing an OT game with the Lakers.

  38. It aint just me guys, Phil Jackson himself said in an interview that the Lakers are not playing at the same level as Boston or Cleveland, so why I might be some random fan, Phil Jackson is the coach who knows his team better than anyone, right now, the lakers are not a championship team, they got too many holes.

  39. Joe, there are two sides to that. What did you expect Phil Jackson to say, that this team is championship ready? Even if they were he wouldn’t say that, he didn’t say that about his greatest Bulls teams. This is a young team and he is trying to keep a fire under them, and the Cavs and Celtics allow him to do that.

  40. 238- Phil Jackson loves to play mind games with his teams. I would take many things he says with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s true, but for Phil’s purposes, it’s most likely a way to motivate his team to rise to that higher level more often. They are clearly capable of that as evidenced by their impressive wins over Boston and Cleveland.

  41. How people use one game to immediately say, “OMG, this isn’t a championship team!” is astounding. It’s one game. We were outhustled, and we deserved to lose. If we had ended up beating them, it would have been because the Bobcats choked at the line. We’re bound to lose close games down the stretch during the season; there will inevitably be games like this in which we’re outworked.

    On a more positive note, Bynum is showing major improvement. I think I’m agreeing with the correlation between posts here analyzing players and their play perking up. Fish hitting that clutch three to send us to OT was indicative enough. Posts on Sasha, Vlad, Ariza, and Walton are probably warranted 😉

  42. So, with time winding down in the first OT, and up by 3 points against the Bobcats, why are we not fouling as they bring it up?

    We shoot free throws better, and it burns up that precious time.

    Another one of those simple things that you rarely see coaches do. Is there some kind of code, or am I missing something here?

  43. As a Bobcats fan, the homerism on this blog is ridiculous. The foul by Bynum was extremely excessive and the sign of a budding DIRTY PLAYER. I sure hope the NBA suspends Bynum to teach him a lesson that thuggery is NOT part of basketball and anyways why is Bynum so timid against someone his own size – say a Kendrink Perkins??

  44. The foul on Wallace is one of those things where our reactions depend a lot on the consequences. If the guy hadn’t been injured no one would even be thinking about suspensions, or even calling it a flagrant. Bynum is a big guy with long strong arms. When he has momentum, and you have momentum in a different direction, colliding with him is going to hurt and is likely to know people over.

    I hope Wallace gets better, bruised ribs and collapsed lung both sounds very painful. But suspension? Save that for players who intentionally injure others.

  45. The Dude Abides January 28, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Ugh. I have no idea why Phil took out Drew with two minutes left in OT and a 5-pt lead. At the very least, after Kobe fouled out with 40 seconds left and a 3-pt lead, why not bring back Drew to guard the paint so Pau and his 75-inch wingspan can guard Diaw at the 3-pt line? Drew was dominant down low at both ends, especially in OT. That bad personnel decision cost us a win, and perhaps will cost us Drew for a game because of Wallace’s injury. I’m sorry, but putting Luke Walton in for a crucial defensive possession instead of Andrew Bynum is coaching malpractice. Or is this another of Phil’s “big picture” in-game decisions?

  46. Hey Kurt,

    The reason that I complained about the Lakers winning close games was that they are essentially toss ups. I think someone pointed out that the Lakers are 6-4 in games decided by 5 points or less. Isn’t this why people like Hollinger are constantly reminding us that point differential is a better predictor of future success than the actual record of a team? If you win a bunch of close games eventually you will regress back to the mean. Kobe appears to be a huge advantage in these cases but he has lost some games with his last second shots too. Even if he were to shoot an insanely good 50% on buzzer beating threes, that translates to a .500 record.

  47. Bynum was going for the steal. I think he expected gwallace to take another dribble before jumping for the lay-in

  48. The Boo Birds really come out after a loss.

    I am very encouraged by the recent play of Bynum. He seems to be very active on both ends of the court. I do not know what switch was flipped for him to be showing this kind of energy, but we should get them to glue it to the on position.

    And I wonder if Bynum’s improved play is having an effect on Gasol.

  49. Last night was just a bad game for Kobe to foul out. Besides Bynum, Kobe was the only player that had any sort of consistent offense going. When he fouled out, all we needed was one basket or even one trip to the foul line to seal the game and we could not get it. And the fact is that even though Bynum has come on lately, we are not accustomed to featuring him on offense. So while he may have been our best option down the stretch, we are not used to force feeding him (like we are Gasol) and I don’t think we were conscientious enough of him on offense or intent on getting him the ball. By the time we really went to him on the block for buckets, it was too late. We were already down by 5 (or 7?) and even though he got a 3pt. play, it was of non consequence.

    We can make excuses about the game or come up with faulty reasoning about it, but the fact is we lost. It happens. I was mad last night and really frustrated when watching Boris Diaw due his Bernard King impression, but it happens. These guys get paid money to play this game too. Some can claim that this loss is indicative of something greater, but I don’t agree with that in the slightest. If you really believe that, were you on these boards saying the same thing on Deceber 26th? How about last Tuesday morning when Lebron had just left with a loss? The fact still remains we’ve lost 9 times. NINE(!) in 45 games. If anything can be taken away from a game like this it’s that we lose once (or twice) every 5-10 games and this was the loss. Now let’s go on the road and win some games. I have a feeling that we’ll be ready.