March 07, 2014
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford: Pulling Kemba Walker off Kyrie Irving defensively would be "a complete insult"
I asked Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford in the pre-game media availability if he’d consider guarding Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter with a bigger player, as the Bobcats did last season under then-coach Mike Dunlap
I got a better answer than I ever anticipated.
Clifford said he’s told point guard Kemba Walker “you should consider it a complete insult” if he’s ever pulled off the other team’s point guard for defensive reasons.
“I don’t see any reason we should ever have to take him off the other team’s point guard.” Clifford said.
March 05, 2014
Charlotte Bobcats' Steve Clifford: LeBron's 61 wasn't MKG's and Tolliver's fault
Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford stuck up for his small forwards Wednesday morning, saying any criticism Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Tolliver are taking, based on LeBron James’ 61-point game, is unjustified.
Clifford said at shootaround that MKG and Tolliver did precisely what was asked of them: Defend against James’s drives and passes first. But James had an incredible night from 3-point range (8-of-10) that couldn’t be anticipated or stopped.
“Consider the greatness of the player and the sequence of what happened,” Clifford said of James’ 22-of-33 shooting night. “He was in the pick-and-roll most of the time, which is where most of his baskets happened. As the ball was released, if you stopped (the video) and said, ‘Can we live with that shot?’ you’d realize MKG and Tolliver did a good job.
“If there’s somebody who could be blamed for that, then blame me. We did change our coverages somewhat (as the game transpired). You could have flat-out doubled him, but then they would have scored 150. (Kidd-Gilchrist and Tolliver) taking heat for that? No. That’s a coaching decision.”
Clifford has coached extensively against league MVP James from his days as an Orlando Magic assistant, including a playoff series. It’s always been Clifford’s view that James wants to be double-teamed because he’s so adept at finding open teammates.
“There are many aspects to his greatness,” Clifford said. “The first thing is his ability to get to the basket and finish. I believe, and you can look this up, something like 53 to 54 percent of his makes are at the rim. Going into our game he was 69 percent (shooting at the rim). That’s a thing not many other guys – maybe nobody else – can do; scoring that many of his points at the basket at that percentage. And that doesn’t count how many times he gets fouled.
“The second part is they have 3-point shooting all around him and their corner-3 shooting is through the roof. Because of his incredible passing ability, every time he comes off the pick-and-roll and you commit two guys, he looks first at the roll man for the dunk or then he hits the weak-side corner – which is the biggest part of their 3-point shooting.”
Clifford added that for the season, James was shooting 34 percent from above the break (essentially the key area), so his 8-of-10 night from 3-point range couldn’t reasonably be expected.
“He’s a phenomenal player who had a phenomenal night,” Clifford concluded. “I just don’t want people saying it was the players’ fault. They actually did a good job.”
March 04, 2014
Comparing schedules for the Bobcats, Hawks, Pistons and Cavs in race for last 2 Eastern Conference playoff spots
As of Monday night the Charlotte Bobcats were still in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but now they’re just percentage points ahead of the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks.
The Bobcats are now three games behind the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets and 6 ½ games ahead of the tenth-place New York Knicks. So this is sizing up as a four-team race for the last two playoff spots between the Bobcats, Hawks, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Comparing those four teams’ remaining schedules:
Bobcats: 12 home games/10 road games. Remaining games against teams with .500 or better records: 11 (Indiana, Memphis, Washington 3 times, Minnesota, Brooklyn twice, Portland, Houston, Chicago)
Hawks: 13 home games/11 road games. Remaining games against teams with .500 or better records: 13 (Portland twice, Golden State, LA Clippers, Toronto twice, Phoenix, Minnesota, Washington, Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn, Miami)
Pistons: 8 home games/13 road games. Remaining games against teams with .500 or better records: 12 (Chicago twice, Minnesota, Toronto twice, Indiana twice, Phoenix, Clippers, Miami, Brooklyn, Oklahoma City)
Cavs: 11 home games/10 road games. Remaining games against teams with .500 or better records: 11 (San Antonio#, Phoenix, Golden State, LA Clippers, Miami, Oklahoma City, Houston, Toronto, Brooklyn twice, Indiana)
March 02, 2014
Bobcats signing D-League center Justin Hamilton to a 10-day contract
The Charlotte Bobcats will fill their newly created roster opening by signing center Justin Hamilton to a 10-day contract, two NBA sources confirmed Sunday.
The Bobcats’ interest in Hamilton was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Hamilton is 7-foot and 260 pounds. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 9.2 rebounds this season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA’s Development League.
The Bobcats created a roster spot when they waived veteran shooting guard Ben Gordon Sunday. The Bobcats have some need for another big man after Jeff Adrien was included in the trade to Milwaukee for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour.
The Bobcats are still waiting on reserve center Brendan Haywood to recover from a foot stress-fracture. Haywood has yet to play a regular-season game this season.
Hamilton played college ball at Iowa State and Louisiana State. He was a 2012 second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers.
His draft rights were traded to the Miami Heat. Hamilton was in Miami’s training camp in 2013, but was cut before the regular season.
Bobcats waive Ben Gordon hours after buyout deadline expires
In a move that seemed inevitable, the Charlotte Bobcats waived little-used veteran shooting guard Ben Gordon Sunday, hours after the deadline for him to be on another team’s playoff roster.
The Bobcats and Gordon had discussed a possible buyout that would have saved the team some portion of Gordon’s $13.2 million salary and granted Gordon his freedom. That would have had to happen by Saturday for Gordon to qualify for another team’s playoff roster.
Once that deadline passed there wasn’t much sense in keeping Gordon on the roster. He hardly ever played either for Bobcats coach Steve Clifford or his predecessor, Mike Dunlap. A variety of other guards including Ramon Sessions, Jeff Taylor and the recently-acquired Gary Neal, all played in front of Gordon in his 1 ½ seasons with the team.
Gordon’s contract expires after this season. The team looked into using that expiring deal at the trade deadline, but no appropriate option materialized.
Gordon came to the Bobcats in June of 2012 in a trade from the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons took back Corey Maggette. Essentially the Bobcats accepted Gordon’s 2013-14 salary in return for a future first-round pick with limited protection.
If the Pistons’ pick is outside the top eight in June, the Bobcats get it. If the Bobcats don’t get the pick in 2014, they get it in 2015 so long as it’s not the No. 1 overall pick.
February 27, 2014
The night a $5 bettor apparently would have gotten on the Vegas "Black Book"
This has to be the story everyone tells his grandchildren. Tonight I was asked if I’m a card-counter.
I’m not. Let me explain:
I’m in Las Vegas for a couple of days before I fill in for Jim Utter on the NASCAR beat. After watching the Clippers game over dinner, I found my low-limit casino to play blackjack. I hit a bunch of times. Apparently too many times. Twenty-four times in a row, and that draws attention even low-stakes.
When I colored up, a security guy gently, but firmly, asked who I was. I asked why. He told me I had quite a run of luck at the end of a 5-deck stack.
I chuckled. I showed him my ID. Asked him a simple question: “If I was a card-counter, why would I be playing at a $3 minimum table?
He explained to me that since the movie “21,” there are card-counting teams constantly training members in low-limit games. I was shocked and flattered I was targeted to be the “Big Player.”
February 25, 2014
Ex-Charlotte Bobcat Raymond Felton arrested in Manhattan on gun charges
Former Charlotte Bobcats point guard Raymond Felton was arrested in Manhattan on felony gun charges overnight, according to various New York media reports.
Police told the Associated Press this morning the charges stem from the gun not being registered in New York State. Felton was arrested hours after his current team, the New York Knicks, lost a home game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Felton was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor during an arrest on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The New York Times quoted a law enforcement source as saying the gun was turned into a precinct house by Felton's wife, Ariane Raymondo-Felton. Felton has publicly acknowledged the couple is divorcing.
The Times story indicates Felton might have threatened his wife with the firearm.
New York State has particularly stringent gun laws. Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was sentenced to two years incarceration for accidentally discharging a weapon at a Manhattan nightclub.
Felton, who played for North Carolina, was drafted fifth overall by the Bobcats in 2005. He played for the Bobcats through the 2009-10 season before leaving in free-agency.
February 24, 2014
Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker East player of the week
The Charlotte Bobcats got some league-wide praise for their four-game winning streak when point guard Kemba Walker was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week Monday.
Walker averaged 22.5 points, 8.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds for the applicable four games. The Bobcats won four games in five nights, beating the Detroit Pistons (twice), New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. The Bobcats were the only team in the NBA to go 4-0 last week.
Among the highlights for Walker, he totaled a career-high 16 assists in the home game against the Pistons and scored 31 points against the Grizzlies.
The last Bobcat to win a player of the week award was Stephen Jackson in January 2010. In franchise history, Gerald Wallace won it four times, Jason Richardson twice and Jackson once.
February 21, 2014
By the numbers: No longer accurate to call Charlotte Bobcats offensively inept
Back at the start of the Charlotte Bobcats’ season, this team was easily defined: Excellent defense dragging along a pretty bad offense.
That’s no longer so accurate, as far as bad offense.
Compare the numbers between the first 38 games of the season and the last 17. Huge difference:
First 38 Last 17
Record: 15-23 10-7
PPG 93 100.5
FG% 42.5% 47.2%
3-pt% 33.9% 38.7%
Assists/game 19.4 25.1
So ask yourself what happened roughly 17 games ago: Two things – Al Jefferson got truly healthy after hobbling around on a severely sprained ankle. And coach Steve Clifford decided to rely more heavily on his starters, tightening the rotation. Now they truly play inside-out through Jefferson in the post, and it’s proven to be very effective.
February 20, 2014
Charlotte Bobcats acquire Ridnour, Neal from Bucks for Sessions, Adrien
The Charlotte Bobcats made a trade-deadline deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, acquiring guards Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.
The deal should improve the Bobcats’ long-range shooting, as they continue to pursue a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. From the Bucks’ side, a struggling team acquires two expiring contracts, avoiding the $3.25 million Neal is owed next season.
The Bobcats are giving up primarily Sessions, their backup point guard. He has a special talent for getting to the foul line and was particularly popular in the locker room for his professional attitude. Adrien was a deep reserve, whose salary was thrown in to balance the deal financially.
Ridnour averages 5.7 points and 3.4 assists this season. He can play either guard spot.
Neal left the San Antonio Spurs for the Bucks in free-agency, and struggled to fit into his new setting. He shoots 36 percent from 3-point range, and range shooting has been a big problem this season for the Bobcats, who are trying to hold off the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks for one of the last playoff spots in the East.