Preview and Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

Darius Soriano —  January 31, 2012

Records: Lakers 12-9 (7th in West), Bobcats 3-18 (Last in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.1 (15th in NBA), Bobcats 95.8 (29th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.4 (12th in NBA), Bobcats 108.4 (27th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Bobcats: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas, Boris Diaw, DeSagana Diop
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Blake (out), Derrick Caracter (out); Bobcats: D.J. Augustin (out), Corey Maggette (out)

The Lakers Coming in: The trade rumors are starting to swirl again, this time linking the Lakers to Ramon Sessions from the Cavs. My two cents on Sessions as a player: he’s young, operates well in the P&R, is a pass first player, but isn’t averse to looking for his own shot should it be one that he has confidence in. His jumper is streaky at best and downright bad at its worst, creating a ceiling for how effective he could be running certain types of offenses (like the Triangle, for example).  In a way, he reminds me of an undersized Andre Miller and that’s not such a bad prototype to follow. Where Miller has an advantage is in his size and how that translates into shots for himself and others from the post, a strength he uses even as he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Sessions doesn’t have that luxury, but his youth and athleticism serve him well in place of that size. All that said, Sessions be the best PG on the Lakers if he were acquired today, tomorrow, next week, etc, etc. If the Lakers can actually acquire him, he’d be good get simply because the things he does well are things this team needs and the things he doesn’t this team already lacks, so no additional harm done. Do I think a deal happens? No, I don’t. At least not yet; not until the Lakers figure out if they can get their hands on an impact player. Because until that’s clarified, I think all the Lakers’ assets remain on lock down.

The Bobcats Coming in: The ‘Cats have lost 8 in a row and 9 of 10. But those are the types of streaks that happen when a team’s only won 3 games all year. To really explain how good a team this is right now all you need to know is that the Wizards are routinely thought of as the worst team in the league due to disfunction and ill-fitting parts…but that Wiz team just knocked off the Bobcats twice in the past week.

Some of the Cats’ struggles are based off injuries. Starting PG, D.J. Augustin is hurt and he’s their best player. Corey Maggette is hurt and he (along with Augustin) is their most natural scorer. Having both these guys out goes a long way in explaining why this team has only cracked 80 points once in their past 4 games. But the main issue is that the Bobcats simply lack talent. Kemba Walker is promising rookie, but he’s a rookie. Their other lottery pick, Bismack Biyombo, is a project big man that flashes elite defensive ability but substandard offensive skills when attempting moves that don’t involve dunking while wide open. Gerald Henderson is a nice defensive player with an improving offensive game but he’d likely be a 6th – 8th man on a good team. The rest of their roster is a hodge podge of former lottery picks that haven’t panned out and fringe role players that would be the 10-12 men on most rosters.

Coach Paul Silas gets these guys to play hard, but the talent deficiency and injury issues are simply too much.

Bobcats Blogs: Queen City Hoops does a great job of giving you all the info you’d need on the ‘Cats. That said, also check out Rufus on Fire for more excellent coverage. Both are really good sites.

Keys to game: Despite the damning critique I wrote above, this game offers an interesting test case of sorts. Since the Bobcats came into the league 7 years ago as an expansion team, they’ve actually beat the Lakers 8 out of the 14 times they’ve played. That winning record represents the only series advantage this franchise has over any other team in the league. Whatever you want to credit (or blame) this record on doesn’t matter, the fact is the Lakers have struggled with this them over the years.

So, while I think this should be a win, that doesn’t really matter as history has proven the Lakers should win most of these match ups and haven’t done it.

This game, then, will go beyond the X’s and O’s. It will come down to smarts and effort. The Lakers must stick to their strengths by pounding the ball inside, attacking at every opportunity, and not settling for outside jumpers. They’re facing the 27th best D in the league and their attack should reflect that by moving the ball quickly and to their best players to take advantage this group. This will take commitment, though, and that goes back to playing smart, focused basketball. This Laker team can’t afford to be complacent because that attitude will get them beat, even by a team that no one thinks should beat them.

That focus will need to be extended to their defensive effort as well. As we’ve discussed the Lakers’ D has fallen off lately, struggling to execute their principles of contesting every shot and controlling their defensive backboards. Tonight, the Cats’ may not have a lot of talent, but they will bring a couple of sets that have burned the Lakers’ defense lately and players that fit a prototype to do damage. Kemba Walker is a speedy, attacking PG that will look for his own shot all over the floor. He will run the P&R and look to turn the corner to get into the paint and hit floaters or pull up for his jumper should his man get caught on his back. 

When Walker’s not looking for his own shot in the P&R, he can run a pick and pop with Boris Diaw who is more than comfortable stepping out beyond the three point line and hurting a defense. All season the Lakers have struggled with their rotations to a big man that can stretch the floor (think Al Harrington or Ryan Anderson) and tonight they’ll need to be better to contain this action. Diaw will shoot the long ball and if guys rotate to him out of control, he’ll put the ball on the floor and look to create for his teammates. There’s a savviness to his game that must be respected and the Lakers would be smart to do so.

The other key to the game will be controlling the backboards. The ‘Cats will start a fairly big front line with both Tyrus Thomas and Diaw joining Diop in the frontcourt. Thomas is athletic and will need to be marked consistently because he will attack the glass (think of the way that Beasley and Randolph hurt the Lakers in the T’Wolves game). Diaw will also use his wide base to create space and disrupt the Lakers’ defensive rebounding. The key for the Lakers will be to attack the ball and secure it before trying to get up court.

If the Lakers stick to their game plan and give energy, they should win this game. Lets hope they do so as a loss to this team would be a pretty big step backwards.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time on Fox Sports. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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50 responses to Preview and Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

  1. Lakers get back to the stengy defense from earlier this year. Bold prediction is Bynum and Gasol each score 30.

  2. As long as Charlotte has not re-acquired Gerald Wallace, we should be ok. This is clealry the kind of game, before a long road trip, where getting some rest for the starters would seem to be within reach….

  3. Game: Agree with Funky, but let’s make sure we get the W : ) Clippers: Many of the posts are about the Clips – what up with that? Big Picture: After my 24 hour hiatus, I am willing to take a fresh new look at things, so could someone please give me some optimism?

  4. I really hate when the Lakers play the Bobcats, there’s just no upside. Lakers should easily beat this team…and they so rarely do. As far as the Laker Bigs combining for 60 points (30 each, no less), except for their last game (Gasol 28, Bynum 21) these guys never score 20 or more points each in the same game.

    Here’s hoping the Lakers can defeat the Bobcats tonight easily enough to allow Gasol & Kobe to play no more than 34 minutes each & allow a little light for Walton.

  5. Darius: Elsewhere, you mentioned Ryan Anderson as a potential add on to a D12 deal. None of the other 4 mentioned him, and I have seen no talk of that. Can you elaborate?

  6. Lakers really need a win tonight before they start their Grammy Road Trip. Since the 2007-8 season they are 22-8 on this road trip but that was under Phil Jackson. The Lakers have not been a good road team this season. Perhaps this will change that as we get a better picture of where the Lakers stand in the Western Conference after this road trip.

    Would like to see Kobe and Gasol’s minutes in the mid 30’s tonight in an easy Lakers win.

  7. I co-sign with the idea of a win that involves the bigs using their advantage down low, minutes in the low 30s for Kobe, Pau & Drew, and avoiding injuries before the road trip.

    In past seasons we’d probably call this a trap game, but given recent performances, it’s just a game against a team with a poorer record than ours that we need to beat. Here’s hoping that happens.

  8. The Lakers have lost a few easy games to the ‘cats as you say. They certainly should win, but things haven’t gone according to the line too often against this team. We’ve played terribly against them several times in the last few years. We should get it to our bigs inside off some overmanned ‘cats but we’ll see. How much longer is Blake expected to be out?

  9. Interesting take by Ding on MWP starting and a sense of consistency for the Lakers.

  10. BIgCitySid that’s why it’s a bold prediction very unlikely but possible. Lakers should feed Andrew early and often to build on his last game give him some confidence. Drew should make it his job to not give up off. rebounds that hurt us last game.

    Mike Brown had a ten man rotation last game let’s see if he stays with it.

  11. I think the Lakers have a chance if winning tonight. Unless Metta shoots 30 times!

  12. I’ve decided that I’m not going to take regular season games seriously, since the Lakers never do. :)

  13. Kobe looks as if he’s gunning for 40 or tryin’ to put this Bobcats team out of their misery early .. I’m hoping he achieves both.

  14. any links to see the game?

  15. I love watching Kobe, but I always wonder why Phil never or Mike Brown doesn’t seem to ever take him out when he’s being too aggressive. 11 shot attempts in the first quarter is a bit much.

  16. Reminder: KB only needs 93 to pass Shaq. Getting it tonight is possible the way he is starting : )

  17. Kobe is a third through the season, I think he has made his mind up – to go for his 2nd MVP – Love it

  18. 15. i was wondering about Kobe’s MVP chances, i think he is defo at the mo but we cant lose too many more games compared with the Heat or Lebron will probably win

  19. Wow – that half was a thing of beauty – Kobe can take my mind off our bigger issues

  20. 15. i was wondering about Kobe’s MVP chances, i think he is defo second at the mo but we cant lose too many more games compared with the Heat or Lebron will probably win

  21. What can we really take from this game? The Bobcats are terrible.

  22. James: LeBronze is one of the few guys who would lose the popularity game to Kobes. Anyway we watch and chant MVP MVP MVP : )

  23. Great first half by the Lakers. Kobe, Gasol and Bynum all getting good looks and scoring, combined 19-33 and 46 points. Goudelock providing scoring off the bench with 7 points. Only negative was the Bobcats 10 ORB.

    Very efficient offense in the first half for the Lakers. Hopefully Kobe and Gasol will not play in the 4th quarter.

  24. @Rudy, I thought the same thing against the Bucks and…

    I’ll be happy to just take the win from this game.

  25. Kobe only needs 3766 points to move past Jordan.

  26. Come on guys – stay positive – else we will start talking about the reality of our world and worse yet – what can be done about it : )

  27. Thank you @ Simonoid and Glove

  28. Ron Artest us the worst player I have seen in 10 years. What genius signed him to a 4 year contract?

  29. Please remove Metta Worst.

  30. Mike Brown must be really good ay half time speeches. Can you spell”tune em out”.

  31. We need at least one more shot creator so very badly.

  32. After that quarter, and with a 15 point lead, how long does Kobe sit in the 4th? Count me as one who’s hoping he sits for the first 5, the rest somehow extend the lead to 20 (or at least maintain it at 15), and he just ices up for the remainder of the evening…

  33. Goudelock splash

  34. Goudsplash! I like it

  35. Everything we wanted: A “W”; Kobe is at 27 minutes, AB with a double double

  36. i have no idea why Brown thinks Metta is better than Barnes

  37. @James

    Brown experiments too much. He benched Goudelock despite the fact that the rookie was a gunner from the start. He benched McBob for no reason. Brown is too much of a perfectionist. One mistake and you’re benched.

  38. I nominate Coach Brown for play of the game for not playing Kobe Bryant in the 4th quarter.

  39. I’m thinking with Goudelock providing what we need off the bench the FO will not push to get Session or Arenas.

  40. Bench came through big time. Kobe 27 minutes Pau 28 minutes is what really matters. Drew had good consecutive nights. Goudelock is our secret weapon

  41. Head scratcher of the night – Kobe 2-11 on three pointers. One assist. Weird stuff.

    Would love to see the others keep hitting those threes.

    Darius’ first paragraph about the Bobcats coming in was spot on. I feel bad for them.

  42. Lakers are getting better offensively. 3s were bound to go down at some point. Mike Brown used the same rotation as last game. Now let’s see if we can grow as a team on the road

  43. @Kevin..its no longer a secret because you already mention it. :)
    Goudelock really change the dynamics of this game. Timely dribble penetration with kick-out open up the shooters.

  44. Goudelock is the lakers 4th best player right now and it’s not even close, that’s how we’ll he’s playing. When a late 2nd round pick is a vital piece to a championship contending team, I don’t know if that makes Kupchak a great GM or a vastly overrated one

  45. “Darius’ first paragraph about the Bobcats coming in was spot on. I feel bad for them.”
    —-

    I don’t feel bad for them. Michael Jordan is a cheapskate and he deserves the team he has.

  46. Personally, since we’ve waited this long I would love to see what the Clippers do with Mo Williams. He’s a better shooter than Sessions and is a better overall point guard. He would be the best case scenario because he would fit into the TPE. In additon, we could package Caracter and give the Clippers the extra big the covet. A draft pick in the 20’s would be worthwhile for Mo too. Other than Deron Williams, Mo Williams is ideal.