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February 06, 2010

A loss that raised questions

 Some post-mortem on a home loss Saturday:

-- There's no shame in losing to the New Orleans Hornets.  But the pattern of this loss was troubling because it broke with the identity this team has established.

The Bobcats count on two things; they play excellent half-court defense and they show up for home games. There are games when they appear to be not that good defensively, but almost always that's about their turnover problem at the other end. Turnovers lead to easy transition baskets that skew their defensive statistics.

Saturday wasn't about that. They stunk in half-court defense, particularly in the second half, to an extent they haven't all season. They made Darren Collison look like Steve Nash in his prime. That reflects on point guards Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin, but it also reflects on how horribly the others helped and rotated Saturday.

Gerald Wallace is both wise and frank. He told me recently the Bobcats aren't so much a collection of good individual defenders as they are a really good team defense. I'd disagree with him somewhat (and I mean there are strong individual defenders), but I see his point: This team doesn't have a Bruce Bowen or a Ron Artest. When they're elite defensively, it's because of how they work together.

They didn't work together Saturday. And when something is such an obvious strength on an otherwise unremarkable team, you better fix whatever was wrong.

-- So what do you do about the center position? Nazr Mohammed has had two fine games lately, just as Tyson Chandler is coming back. Nazr is on a roll offensively, but he's limited defensively, particularly in the pick-and-roll. Chandler could be (emphasize "could be'') a better option defensively since he's a better athlete.

There should be some way to work Chandler into the mix without marginalizing Mohammed. But don't go to that bench-Boris Diaw thing. You would not like the result of a steady diet of Mohammed-Chandler playing together.

-- The Bobcats are one roster move away from clinching a playoff spot. The logical thing to do is find a way to turn D.J. Augustin into a power forward. They have too many point guards and too few power forwards. You can get by with Flip Murray and Acie Law behind Raymond Felton. Time to look seriously at this option.

Posted by Observer Sports on February 6, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

Comments

D.J. transforming into a PF would be fantastic. I think he's a good PG that's worth a good PF. Tyson and Naz should get equal minutes and an occasional dose of the duo would be great. I'm curious to know who our real options are at PF? The Cleveland game will be interesting with yet another roster change.

Posted by: Altheus | Feb 7, 2010 12:09:25 AM

Excellent points, Rick.

The Bobcats lost this game because they stopped playing hard in the second half, they seemed to take the Paul-less Hornets for granted - while the Hornets came out with great energy after half-time. It wasn't "selfishness"; in offense, the Bobcats had 29 assists, which is great, it's better than most teams on any given night, and it doesn't leave much room to talk about selfishness. But, it was lack of effort, as Stephen Jackson said, and this showed up in the worst way in the lack of help defense that Gerald mentioned.

Even before Chandler's was sidelined, Nazr was our best center. It's true that Chandler's athleticism gives him an edge over Nazr in defense, but that doesn't come to full fruition unless he's healthy; when Chandler is playing with lingering effects of his injuries, his defense suffers too, and isn't as great as to make up for his lack of offensive skills. Anyway, I don't mind him starting at center again, as long as Nazr is keeping his minutes. Also, there are match-ups that justify having Nazr at 5 and Chandler at 4 for some minutes. One good thing about Chandler's return will be putting an end to the ridiculous improvisation of playing Diaw as a makeshift "center", surrounded by guards and small forwards, in the fourth quarter. It's not good for our inside playing and for rebounding, it was detrimental in many games (including against the Hornets) and I'll be happy to see it vanishing.

DJ had one of his best games last night. Still, if the management can trade him for a good back-up PF, that would help the team. I was hoping for such a move for several months, let's see if they can pull it...

Posted by: Sandy | Feb 7, 2010 12:36:51 AM

Awful, uninspired 2nd half. But it is just one game, so let's try to move on...

Isn't bringing Chandler off the bench the logical thing to do? As long as Nazr stays on a roll it makes sense for him to start, and with Tyson playing sub minutes he'd be less likely to suffer another setback.

Said this before, how about DJ straight up for Jordan Hill of the knicks? Both kinda underachieving, both might need a change of scenery. I'm guessing NY would want the cats to take J. Jeffries contract too though.

Posted by: David | Feb 7, 2010 12:41:54 AM

I know fans are not in a mood to find "positives" after this lousy loss, but still, Diaw deserves a few good words. Although he didn't shoot well at all, he was, again, in an active mood. He attacked the basket and led the team in free throws (6), also led the team in rebounds (8), and dished 6 assists (equal to Jax, 1 less than Raymond). If he played like this in L.A., the Bobcats would've won!

Gerald was slowed by his hamstring trouble. His game depends a lot on athleticism, and that wasn't quite there last night. I appreciate a lot Gerald's effort to do his best even under these circumstances. But the decision to play him 45 minutes when he's not really healthy worries me - seeing this in the perspective of 33 games left in the regular season plus, hopefully, the play-offs. What worries me is that, unless he gets some rest now, he won't be in his best shape when it's most important - in March and April. Take Brandon Roy as an example; he injured his hamstring, then played again, then aggravated his injury, and now he has to be sidelined (for longer time than if they had been cautious with him after he was first injured).

Posted by: Sandy | Feb 7, 2010 1:01:12 AM

Raymond played like he was stuck in quicksand, and I keep wishing every game Diaw plays for the Bobcats is his last. Flip - work on your free-throws, you killed us down the stretch.

Where the hell was Nazr in the second half?? He was tearing it up in the first half, then couldn't get off the bench! Come on coach.

Posted by: Truth | Feb 7, 2010 1:15:31 AM

One problem which has been re occuring every night for a while is that no matter how well nazr is playing when the 4th quarter starts larry benches him to go with the small line up. Flip murray has played every minute of every 4th quarter in almost all games lately, while nazr sits in crunch time and even when we get stops the opponent gets offensive rebounds. You cant win games down the stretch when you give opponent 2nd and 3rd oppurtunities. and flip whos in there for offensive spark losses way more of these games for the team then helps them win. Last night he found a new way by missing 4 free throws in a row down the stretch.

Posted by: mike | Feb 7, 2010 1:27:25 AM

Brandon bass unhappy at orlando - dj for bass - theres courtney lee's old position for DJ..case closed

Posted by: Brett Johnson | Feb 7, 2010 2:35:17 AM

Orlando has 3 PGs and don't have room for a 4th. Jay Will, Jameer, Anthony Johnson...of course they want DJ

Posted by: No Brett | Feb 7, 2010 2:53:26 AM

Bobcats should not trade DJ. DJ is still in his second year and although he isn't have a season like last year, his potential is still there. He is young and he's a hell of a shooter. The bobcats cannot give up any young players beside Acie Law to trade for a PF. I think the only players they can and should trade are Law and Diop. Everyone seems to be hating on Gerald Henderson, but what if Wallace or Jackson get hurt on the long term? Stephen Graham and Flip Murray themselves cannot fill that void.

Posted by: Junnoe | Feb 7, 2010 4:40:55 AM

This problem can go back to the offseason where Coach Brown said something like, "Oh no we'll be fine at the 4! We'll have the 6'8'' Diaw in there for 35ish minutes then we go with either the 6'8'' rookie Brown or the 6'11'' foreign SG (Radmonovich) for the rest." Anybody who thought that wasn't going to be the issue of the season for this team is blind.

As I said then, they should have bucked up the extra mil and signed Hakim Warrick rather than Flip Murray.

And trading DJ is fine if you're satisfied with overpaying for Felton and settling for below average and sloppy PG play for however long they sign him.

Posted by: Nick | Feb 7, 2010 4:56:49 AM

I would explore trading Diop, Murray,Diaw, or Chandler if you somehow could, before Augustin. That said, if he's part of a package that includes acquiring a bonafide PF, you probably have to pull the trigger.

Posted by: Ari | Feb 7, 2010 6:24:29 AM

Watching the game, I kept asking 'why are the two sparkplugs tonight, Nazr and DJ sitting on the bench when obviously Diaw and Flip were way off. And UPS..where was he...nobody was going for loose balls or rebounding.

Posted by: eduardo | Feb 7, 2010 9:12:57 AM

Nick:
When exactly in the summer did Coach Brown say they'd be fine at the 4 without help? Because I never heard him say anything like that. He always knew this would be a concern and never said anything contradictory to that.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Feb 7, 2010 10:02:13 AM

HAHA...the bcats are a .500 team for the first time ever,and you are complaining and expecting a home win.Look at the games they won and should have lost...that's the nba!!!! Even with paul out,collison is the hottest player right now,and n.o. won an "upset" road game just like the bcats went to clev and won.Don't you know that the nba is the only sport where a star player can be out and the team ACTUALLY PLAYS BETTER? Duh!!!

Posted by: NealBFormey | Feb 7, 2010 11:22:31 AM

We lost this game by playing a lousy 2nd half. Chandler will help when he comes back because Diop just isn't going to make it. As far as a trade I could see loosing Dj for a vet backup like Anthony Johnson from Orlando or Steve Blake froom Portland but we have to be getting a solid pf not just a live body. Portland seems to want to get rid of Blake and Outlaw would be perfect for Diop. They don't need scoring they need a big banger which is where Diop can help. They only have Pryz for one more year at 6mil. With this trade it allows us to send Dj out for a solid pf and have Outlaw to rest Jax and Crash after the All Star Break with better production than Graham even thou he played well last night

Posted by: mrtarheel | Feb 7, 2010 12:37:43 PM

i laugh at the idiocracy that is the idea of trading augustin right now. if he had been handed the reigns to the team, he'd look like derrick rose yet because he's asked to play a role, he looks like a role player. especially given that felton isn't signed past this season...i'd hang on to him for sheer insurance. we should be fine depth wise when chandler returns but to trade the guy that is unquestionably the best shooter on the team and a big piece of the future is nuts.

DJ and Nazr were unstoppable offensively. They kept us in the game and put us up at halftime and were completely forgotten down the stretch.

Posted by: charlottean | Feb 7, 2010 12:57:11 PM

DJ being on the level of Rose is laughable. DJ can be great offensively, as a shooter, but he's a defensive liability. He's not strong enough. Bigger guards easily out-muscle him and speedy guards continuously blow by him (see Tyreke Evans). Felton is a respectable PG who has both speed and strength. Our offense really changes when Felton comes out. Even though he's considered a combo guard, Ray is a better true PG than DJ. DJ reminds me of an undersized SG. With scorers on the floor, I'd almost rather have Acie Law out there for his defense than DJ. DJ does not belong as a starter on a defensive team. He'd thrive a lot better on a Mike Dantoni like team who thrives on constant offense. Like PHX or New York, DJ's best defense is a good offense.

Posted by: EricH | Feb 7, 2010 1:58:14 PM

please dont trade dj for jared jeffries

Posted by: tmack | Feb 7, 2010 3:21:05 PM

I'll just add a few points to EricH's comment, with whom I fully agree.
Is DJ out best shooter? Yes, in some games, but not on a consistent basis.
The point guard's most important job is to run the offense and to create for others. Being a scorer is an additional quality which matters too, but, it's not the main one. DJ averages this season 2.3 apg in 18 mpg.
Beyond the numbers, just by watching the games, Felton is our only point guard whom I can trust to run this team as the starter. I wouldn't say he's great, but I say he's doing a good, solid, job at it. DJ just isn't there. Also, by watching Acie Law in the very few minutes he had the opportunity to play, I saw leadership qualities and a readiness to run the team that I don't think DJ has. Just my impression, based on very limited playing time for Acie. (Of course, there is the defense issue too, on which I don't need to add anything).

Posted by: Sandy | Feb 7, 2010 3:30:10 PM

Another thought on DJ being an undersized SG. Does anyone see the fact that DJ plays his best when he's on the court WITH Ray? When both are on the floor, Ray usually runs the point with DJ playing off the ball, which his skill set is better suited. I feel that attributes to his better rookie season when we ran that lineup more often. I think DJ has a lot to offer. Just not to the bobcats. I'll say it again. I think he'd thrive in a high octane offensive system where defense isn't priority. With our slower tempo, we lose leads with DJ in the game unless he's paired with Felton.

Posted by: EricH | Feb 7, 2010 4:04:48 PM

the derrick rose comparison: chicago gave derrick rose the reigns to the team and said run it. we didn't do that with DJ. if chicago had drafted DJ, they'd receive the same results if not better. the points they lost as result of his lack of size, they would have gained in his literally twice as good 3 point shooting, not to mention free throws. both bring in the same number of steals. both have similar PER's or did last year anyway and you have to figure that a player like rose getting steady starters minutes only helps his stats rather than losing several games to poor minutes as DJ does often. the notion that DJ blows leads that raymond builds up is ludicrous and backed up by nothing. Look up +/- stats on raymond felton, dj augustin and throw in derrick rose while you're at it. and don't confuse that for me saying a +/- determines a players individual quality because it can be a very misleading stat for guys that happen to be on the court while the other teammates got hot or whatever. the point is that DJ isn't blowing leads raymond built up.

a lotta you guys are confused.

Posted by: charlottean | Feb 7, 2010 9:40:18 PM

Put the DJ kool-aid away charlottean. The Rose comparisons are embarassing. Give me one reason (JUST ONE) why Augustin would make this team better as a starter. He's a poor defender and a shooter that has lost his touch this year. Even FELTON is shooting a better % from 3, and their FT shooting is dead even.

I like the guy as a player, and he's slowly playing better lately, but long term he is NOT the soluttion for this team and if you can trade him for a guy that's willing to mix it up inside and grab some boards then I think you have to pull the trigger.

Posted by: David | Feb 7, 2010 11:32:44 PM

Look at the bright side. I remember the "old days" in Charlotte when we had a 5'3" point guard who the coach and GM was scared to sit. Those teams with Zo and LJ could have gone far.

Raymond Felton is servicable at best and you could probably get something for DJ if you market him.

Posted by: Ed | Feb 8, 2010 12:59:16 AM

Trade DJ for a backup and let Flip....Flip....Flip....FLip and Law.....Law.....Law run the point is a big big big Friggin joke Bonnell just like your opinions.DJ is the future

Posted by: RufusDufus | Feb 8, 2010 2:36:48 AM

I was very surprised at how awful we were on defense. I say Law should get some meaningful playing time before we go thinking about trading DJ. If Law were that good, he wouldn't have been traded so many times. But, I'd still like to see if he could at least shoot better than DJ (although I suspect there are several trained monkeys that could shoot better than DJ right now).

Posted by: J | Feb 8, 2010 9:22:39 AM

Charlottean, I watch every game. I was at the NOLA game (hideous jerseys btw. Looked like three teams on the court). DJ simply is NOT as effective as Ray with this team. Ball movement is terrible with DJ with the excception of the occasional heads up play. You argue that his 3 pt shooting makes up for the rest of his struggles, yet we are talking about a PG. That would be a valid argument if we were talking about a SG, but a PG has to be able to run the team regardless of shooting ability. See Rajon Rondo. Not a great shooter (especially from outside), but can run the heck out of that Celtics team and he plays great D. On this team, I'd take Felton over DJ any day.... and we don't need to find out if Law can shoot, we need to find out if he can run the offense, and hold his own on D.

Posted by: EricH | Feb 8, 2010 10:13:49 AM

I agree with the fact that DJ could be serviceable for a high octane offensive team, but the Bobcats are not that. If we look at who those teams are, we'd be looking at New York and PHX. Maybe we could package DJ and Diaw for Stoudemire? Or DJ/Diaw for David Lee?

Posted by: JL99 | Feb 8, 2010 12:37:28 PM

Correction: Instead of David Lee, maybe Al Harrington?

Posted by: JL99 | Feb 8, 2010 12:41:36 PM

not once have i said DJ should start over felton. but i find it hilarious how all summer everyone was crying they should let felton go and start DJ and now its trade DJ. i said all summer they should keep felton AND DJ. there's room in the rotation and DJ will grow back into favor with brown and earn those minutes and become jason terry'esque off the bench for us like he was last year.

and david there's no koolaid over here, run back the tape of the 2 head to head matchups last year. DJ ate that dude up.

Posted by: charlottean | Feb 8, 2010 1:12:24 PM

Hey Bonnell, I was surprised to see you call me out, but rightfully so... I will not run and hide when someone calls me out when I'm wrong.

My post more or less was to express the attitude of the organization going into the season... That is clearly how they felt, as roster moves express how management feels about a team. I also do remember him making statements(and tried to find em) assuring the strength of the 4 and giving his word of confidence regarding the position (as any coach would do for his team). I guess I shouldn't have named Brown and instead said "the roster moves indicate the attitude of:"

Posted by: Nick | Feb 9, 2010 1:24:12 AM

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