Remember when the Nets forgot how to score against the Bobcats? That was, what, 14 losses ago? Anyway, the Bobcats are playing better since early November, and Queen City Hoop’s Brett Hainline is here for our next edition of Bloggers Talk.
NAS: The last time these two teams met, it was one of the uglier games of basketball in the NBA this season. Do you expect Charlotte to keep it ugly on their end for round two?
The Bobcats will do their best to keep it ugly. Even since adding Stephen Jackson, they are still slightly below average on offense (104.0 offensive efficiency since Jax joined, league average of 105.5 for the year). So, despite the uptick, they are still not good, let alone mediocre. The Bobcats have begun to win by being aggressive on both ends of the court, which means turnovers, fouls, and strong rebounding – which can all make for some ugly basketball.
NAS: In what ways has Charlotte been able to improve on the offensive end recently?
The improvement has been built around two things: The Bobcats are starting to realize they can’t make threes and they are doing a slightly better job of protecting the ball. Before the trade for Jax, the Bobcats were attempting over a fifth of their shots from 3-point range, nearly 22% – that is down to 19% since the trade. Not a huge difference, but when you are shooting them at just a 28.4% clip, it matters. Down more significantly are the turnovers – in the last games, the Bobcats have turned the ball over on just 15.6% of possessions, compared to 19.6% prior – that works out to over 3 fewer wasted offensive opportunities per game, which is huge when a team struggles to score like the Cats.
NAS: What is wrong with DJ Augustin?
Confidence issues – D.J. has been second guessing himself all season, passing up open looks, careless turnovers, and generally playing tight. He is struggling to become the point guard that Larry Brown requires – and of course having so much competition for minutes this year probably has not done anything to help. Between Raymond, Flip, and now Stephen Jackson being available to act as a nominal point guard, D.J. has been relegated to a lesser role and he seems to be having a difficult time knowing how to respond.
NAS: Gerald Wallace got headlines for his performance against LeBron James and the Cavs recently. Is this the best you’ve seen Wallace play as a Bobcat?
Despite the ugly night against the Celtics the last time, I would still have to say yes. Prior to that game, Gerald had 6 straight double-doubles, averaging 20 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while shooting over 51% from the floor. That’s just incredible from the small forward spot (with some minutes at the 4, but still). He got slowed by foul trouble against Boston (and by Larry Brown’s antiquated notion of how to handle it) but Gerald has still been playing a very high level – his increased focus on rebounding this season has helped the Bobcats exceed expectations defensively – they were expected to be good, but so far they have been great.