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January 31, 2009

Some thoughts, post-Nuggets game

•  Nuggets coach George Karl was adamant pre-game that the Bobcats would be making a mistake trading Raymond Felton, regardless of Felton’s upcoming free-agency. You can write that off as Tar Heel taking up for Tar Heel, but Felton’s numbers have been pretty striking on this road trip.

 The traditional knock on Felton is that he’s not a real point guard. But in the four road games (Indiana, LA Lakers, Portland and Denver) he’s totaled 38 assists and seven turnovers, a ratio of 5.4-to-1. That’s a turnover for every 23 minutes played.

•  I figured the steady minutes Adam Morrison would get as Gerald Wallace’s fill-in as a starter would have to boost Morrison’s confidence. No evidence of that yet.

 In 43 minutes against the Blazers and Nuggets, Morrison has a foul for every point he’s scored (nine). He’s shooting 4-of-11 in that span.

 Coach Larry Brown said before the Blazers game that Morrison shows all the signs of a player who’s lost his confidence. Asked to elaborate, Brown said Morrison doesn’t play in games like he does in practice.

 Brown has been scrimmaging non-starters (which Morrison was until Wallace was hurt) in 4-on-4 games at practice. I’ve watched those games and Morrison is feisty, loud and attacking offensively. He argues with coaches about fouls called and banters with Juwan Howard about how he’s being guarded.

 Then he’s inserted in games, and Morrison seems to sink back into that shell of self-doubt. He passes up open shots and looks self-conscious and indecisive on defense.

•  Brown received his eighth technical foul of the season versus the Nuggets. That ties him with Karl for second-most among NBA coaches, behind 12 for the Los Angeles Clippers’ Mike Dunleavy.

 I’ve noticed Brown’s techs are more calculated than hot-tempered. When he sees one of his players is about to be T’d up (Raja Bell, for instance), he’ll intercede quickly enough to draw the ref’s whistle instead.

 It’s telling that Brown has that many T’s but no ejections. He knows how hard to push without being banished to the locker room.

 Not that Brown can’t afford it, but under NBA rules, he’s been fined $9,500 for those Ts so far.

•  Wallace told Brown he didn’t want Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum suspended for the foul that hospitalized Wallace with a collapsed lung and broken rib. So Wallace apparently thought the flagrant foul-1 assessed was sufficient.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 31, 2009 at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

January 30, 2009

Wallace out of hospital, must remain in L.A.

Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace has been released from a Los Angeles hospital, but will stay in the L.A. area at least until Monday, after suffering a collapsed lung and broken rib in a collision with Lakers center Andrew Bynum Tuesday.

Wallace’s lung injury has healed, the Bobcats say, but he still must get clearance from a cardio-thoracic surgeon before flying. The earliest that could happen is during a Monday examination.

The Bobcats haven’t set a timeline for when Wallace might play again, although coach Larry Brown said Wednesday he doesn’t anticipate Wallace returning “anytime soon.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on January 30, 2009 at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

January 29, 2009

NBA upgrades Bynum's foul

The foul that sent Gerald Wallace to a Los Angeles hospital has been upgraded by the NBA to the more-serious Flagrant 2 designation.

That means Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum should have been ejected for his hip-check and thrown elbow in Tuesday’s Charlotte Bobcats victory.

Wallace suffered a collapsed lung and broken rib and could miss a couple of weeks. The incident happened with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Wallace had to be helped from the court, and the Bobcats ultimately won the game in double-overtime.

Flagrant-2 fouls, described by the league as "unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent’’ are fairly rare

only six such penalties have been assessed this season.

Bynum already committed a Flagrant-1 in December against the Sacramento Kings. Under a points-penalty system established by the NBA (1 point for a Flagrant-1, 2 for a Flagrant-2), Bynum will be automatically suspended for a game, should he exceed five points this season.

Wallace spent Thursday night in the hopsital, his third night there, so the earliest he could be released is Friday morning.

- Rick Bonnell

Posted by Observer Sports on January 29, 2009 at 06:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Diaw to play more small forward

Diaw Boris Diaw is a classic hybrid forward, somewhat in the mold of Antawn Jamison. He’s a bit small for a power forward, but he can out-quick most of them. He’s not as quick as most small forwards, but he can physically overpower most of them.

So now that Bobcats coach Larry Brown needs Diaw to play more small forward in Gerald Wallace’s absence, Brown will tweak the offense a bit. Since it’s harder for Diaw to beat small forwards off the dribble, Brown will install more post-ups and pick-and-roll plays for Diaw.

That approach would feature Diaw’s strength advantage over most 3’s and open some jump-shooting and passing opportunities in the pick-and-roll.

******


Starting in Wallace’s spot didn’t do much for Adam Morrison Wednesday in Portland. Playing 27 minutes – most he’s played since Dec. 10 – Morrison was 2-of-6 from the field, reflective of a shaky and reluctant shooter.

Brown says Morrison shows the classic signs of a player who’s lost his confidence.

 “He passes up shots,’’ Brown said. “He doesn’t play like he plays in practice.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on January 29, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

January 28, 2009

Augustin to miss another week to 10 days

The injury situation just got a bit worse: After saying he doesn’t expect Gerald Wallace back “anytime soon,’’ coach Larry Brown added pre-game that point guard D.J. Augustin is no longer viable to return Friday versus the Denver Nuggets.

          A specialist in Los Angeles examined Augustin and advised that he rest the injury another week to 10 days. Augustin will miss his eighth straight game with the injury tonight when the Bobcats play the Portland Trail Blazers.

          The previous plan was for Augustin to test the injury in practice in Denver Thursday, and if that went well, for him to be activated versus the Nuggets.

          Augustin being out means continued minutes for rookie point guard Sean Singletary, who hasn’t played particularly well of late. Brown said Boris Diaw might play point occasionally, Brown said, but Diaw will already be spreading himself around. With Wallace (broken rib, collapsed lung) out, Diaw will be playing minutes at both power and small forward.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 28, 2009 at 08:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Bobcats plan to sign Cartier Martin

Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins just confirmed what I’d been hearing; the plan is to sign Cartier Martin, a 6-7 small forward currently playing in the NBA’s development league, to a 10-day contract Thursday.

          Martin played at Kansas State and has put up good numbers in the D-league, averaging 20.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Iowa Energy.

          The Bobcats need insurance at small forward, because it’s still uncertain how long Gerald Wallace will be out with a collapsed lung and a broken rib, following a collision with Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

          Wallace will be hospitalized in Los Angeles at least until late Thursday, and figures to miss a week or more of games after that.

          The Bobcats have an open roster spot, due to the two-for-one trade that exchanged Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins to Dallas for Gana Diop.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 28, 2009 at 07:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Wallace has collapsed lung, broken rib

By RICK BONNELL

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

LOS ANGELES - Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace suffered a collapsed left lung and a broken rib in a collision with Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum in the Bobcats' 117-110 double-overtime victory Wednesday night.

According to the team, Wallace lost 30-40 percent of the capacity in his left lung. He also suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth rib on his left side.

Doctors at Centinela Hospital inserted a tube in Wallace's lung to help restore functional capacity. Wallace will spend at least Wednesday night in the hospital. Doctors do not anticipate releasing him before late Thursday. At that time, the Bobcats will be better prepared to decide whether Wallace would join the team on its current West Coast trip or return directly to Charlotte.

Bynum was called for a Flagrant 1 foul on the play in which Wallace was driving the lane in the fourth quarter. Bynum threw a hip-check and struck Wallace's rib cage with his right elbow.

The Bobcats will play the Bobcats tonight in Portland. It was unclear who coach Larry Brown would start in Wallace's place.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 28, 2009 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

Bynum foul on Wallace was dirty

Bynum

After 21 years of covering the NBA, I think I know the difference between rugged and dirty.

What Andrew Bynum did to Gerald Wallace Tuesday was dirty.

Bynum, a gigantic athlete for the Los Angeles Lakers, threw a blatant elbw and hip-check to keep Wallace from reaching the basket in the fourth quarter. I get it that every play in that quarter mattered – it did go to overtime, after all – but there were many things Bynum could have done to avert Wallace dunking. Most of them would not have involved Wallace going to the hospital.

 Hopefully, this was about youthful indiscretion, not malicious intent. Because as talented as Bynum is, I’d hate to think his destiny is to end up a hockey goon.

Watch the video

Posted by Observer staff on January 28, 2009 at 06:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (79)

January 27, 2009

'Incredibly athletic' Bobcats? Kobe's wrong

Kobe400pforblog

I got a chuckle Tuesday, reading Kobe Bryant’s explanation in the Los Angeles Times for why the Charlotte Bobcats have beaten the Lakers four of the last five times.

Bryant called the Bobcats “incredibly athletic.’’

I suspect the Bobcats would find it incredible that Bryant singled them out for athleticism. While Gerald Wallace is off the board as an athlete and point guards Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin are up there, the Bobcats collectively are a little deficient on the athleticism scale.

That was one of coach Larry Brown’s concerns in training camp and Brown isn’t the first person to note that.

Think about it: Center Emeka Okafor succeeds because he overcomes a lack of athleticism, relative to a Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard. He doesn’t jump high (a factor in his shot being blocked so much), but he’s savvy and strong enough to grab all those rebounds, reject some shots and find the rim for a dunk.

Two players who played roles in various victories over the Lakers – Derek Anderson and Jared Dudley – would tell you they’re non-athletes. But they’re such smart basketball players, they get the job done.

And the trades didn’t change this much. Raja Bell is a strong defender because he’s rugged and anticipates opponents’ moves, not because of some explosive athleticism. Boris Diaw is an athlete, but I’d grade him more skilled that purely athletic.

Bryant’s other description of the Bobcats as an “aggressive bunch’’ is probably the more accurate one. This team typically competes against the NBA’s best – they were the only one to win road games over both the Lakers and Celtics last season -- and that pluck stretches back all the way to the first season.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 27, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

January 26, 2009

Reading between the roster lines

Some sense of how the wind is blowing on Bobcats personnel going forward:

-- I would place the odds of Raymond Felton being dealt by the Feb. 19 trade deadline at 30 percent. I would have said 50 percent a month ago.

Not saying Felton can’t be traded, but I sense management is sufficiently impressed with his performance that they’re willing to let this play out to free agency in July, rather than move him for whatever they can get now.

-- Don’t be surprised if you see more of Boris Diaw as a small forward. The Bobcats aren’t getting what they want from Adam Morrison as Gerald Wallace’s backup and the additions of Gana Diop and Juwan Howard give coach Larry Brown more options inside.

I see Diaw continuing to start as the power forward but also alternating with Wallace at the small forward during the second half. Diaw is a hybrid of several positions already; before trading him, the Suns thought Diaw’s best position was small forward.

-- If the Bobcats fill their open 15th roster spot, it will be with a veteran point guard or small forward.

There’s a good chance D.J. Augustin (abdominal strain) will be back Friday vs. the Denver Nuggets. Augustin was pulling a weighted sled across the gym floor Monday, so he’s close. That offers some stability, but there still might be need for a veteran third point guard.

If the Bobcats add a veteran point, rookie Sean Singletary could do a stint in the developmental league.

-- Not that this is a revelation, but if the Bobcats make one more deal, it’s almost certain to involve Morrison, Nazr Mohammed or Sean May.

Despite not playing, May would have some value as an expiring contract. It’s more problematic trading contracts for Mohammed (two seasons left totaling about $13.2 million) or Morrison (next season at about $5.2 million).

Posted by rbonnell on January 26, 2009 at 11:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

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