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March 11, 2010

Why they're on a 4-game win streak

Some thoughts on a four-game winning streak:

-- This doesn't happen if Gerald Wallace doesn't speak up and that's not easy. Calling out your teammates takes courage. It's not like getting on some messaage board as "Bobfan225'' and griping about Stephen Jackson's shot selection or Raymond Felton missing late free throws.

A week ago, Wallace slipped out of the locker room without talking to the media. I can't remember him doing that before. The next day, he didn't speak with my Observer colleague, Ron Green Jr., covering practice.

I knew that meant Gerald had a lot on his mind. So after they were blown out by the Celtics, I waited until other reporters had left the locker room, and asked what was really on his mind. And he laid out his teammates about how they'd renounced what won them nine games in 10. More importantly, I found out later, anything he said to me he'd already said directly to his teammates.

It's not easy scolding co-workers, even if it's totally appropriate.

 Earlier in the season, Tyson Chandler got bent out of shape when Wallace acknowledged that Chandler and Boris Diaw weren't doing their jobs. Chandler called what Wallace did "B.S.'' but that was Chandler being new to Wallace, rather than Wallace doing something wrong. There's nothing selfish or manipulative in Wallace's nature. He's just trying to do the right thing. You can either emulate that or fight it.

-- D.J. Augustin looked scared. I suspect he's never been critiqued before and he didn't know how to react. Some of you assumed, based on Larry Brown's history, that he was shredding whatever confidence Augustin had left, ruining a lottery pick.

Not so much. Brown, who is more collaborative than he used to be, asked Augustin if he was responsible for this horrible slump. Augustin said no, and after a terrible road trip, he's being assertive again. He's finding his shot and contributing.

Here's the issue: Augustin is a scoring point guard who isn't a sure bet to score efficiently. Raymond Felton, for whatever his flaws, is a better feeder and defender. Augustin, through no fault of his own, (he's a little guy, and will always be a little guy) will never be a superior defender, particularly in pick-and-roll. Augustin is a quality backup. I'd love for him to prove me wrong and be a legit starter.

-- Michael Jordan is a trader. He's not a drafter. Sometimes you have to accept people's strengths, and that's the deal: The same guy who looks like a fool for drafting Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison looks pretty damn smart for trading next-to-nothing for Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas.

-- All you fools who made fun of me for writing it would be a huge mistake for the Bobcats to sign Allen Iverson (you know who you are; I can look up the responses) can send me your heart-felt apologies soon as possible.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 11, 2010 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

Comments

I don't believe I ever made fun of you, Rick, but I must admit I was one of the guys who favored the Iverson signing. Part of it was probably just a bit of nostalgia for the Brown and Iverson days in Philly, but unfortunately, it does appear that Iverson is done. I would still be kind of neat to see him on a LB team one more time, but it appears Iverson may have run out of chances. His skills have diminished too no doubt, but if he really got his head on straight, albeit a big if, he could be a better option of the bench than a guy like Flip Murray, at least in my opinion. Still, not sure if he would ever accept that role, as he seems too stubborn to accept any role other than as a starter. In any event, very impressed with the 4 game streak and the way the Cats have worked themselves right back into a playoff spot. The Wallace comments could have been the impetus no doubt, as I think it's gutsy to call out teammates, but sometimes is the right thing to do, especially when you are a team leader like Wallace. Also helps that D.J. has found a bit of his scoring touch once again. I agree he is a scoring point guard, and thus he needs to score. I think he still has the ability to be a reliable scorer, but for whatever reason he has struggled most of his second season. Hopefully, one of these days, we can look back on this experience as a "sophomore slump."

Posted by: Ari | Mar 11, 2010 3:21:27 AM

After having watch Tyrus here in chicago for a couple of years, I'm glad to see someone use his talent. It appears that he has been a huge help in the bobcats run for the playoffs, an also appears to be one of your best players. I am a little surprised that he is'nt in the starting lineup with his play. Do you see him breaking the starting lineup this year or next?

Posted by: jimbo | Mar 11, 2010 3:39:59 AM

"All you fools who made fun of me..."

That's an odd way of addressing a group of people who are possibly Charlotte Observer subscribers or at minimum, readers of your blog... Seems a little strange to me, but if that's how you roll then you go with that.

Posted by: bobcatsplanet | Mar 11, 2010 6:21:50 AM

bobcatsplanet:
I was being playful.

Posted by: Rick Bonnell | Mar 11, 2010 7:23:07 AM

I think the difference is Diaw. In the 4 game win streak, he has been more involved, having the offense run through him. He is a bit of a defensive liability but they need his savy on offensive and his rebounds. When he's on, this team wins. He doesn't need to score as much as give his teamates good shots and to secure rebounds. Jack has been slumping a bit and Wallace and Felton are steady as she goes. DJ's shot is starting to fall mainly because he's taking it to the rim and forcing the defense to react. But Diaw makes this team go 'round and if he plays inspired, this team will go far.

Posted by: gradyhog | Mar 11, 2010 8:02:34 AM

Rick, right on! You're gettin' all bowed up and sticking the stuff back in the face relative to A.I.! Sounds like Gerald's rubbing off on you. :#)

Agree that DJ doing better is a good thing...also agree he'll always be a back-up due to his limitations, but he could be a great back-up who provides a dynamic "change of pace" look from that spot.

Dittos on MJ and trades. Maybe he needs to find a key consultant to help with the draft. This year may not matter if we lose our pick. That trade was horrible, and should be named the Ajinca Stinka.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 11, 2010 8:19:35 AM

Rick Bonnell:
no you weren't. you were being a prick and all high and mighty which is exactly the way it came off. dont make out like you were the only one saying that iversen would be a horrible fit here. like you are some be all and end all. dont slump to the levels of that idiot fowler who writes like that. you are better than that.

Posted by: the voice | Mar 11, 2010 8:20:04 AM

i have read hundreds of your articles rick, but i never heard you call anybody "fools" wow, rick did you have your coffee this morning, did you not get any special care from your siginifcant other last night, sound a little harsh coming from you, but i must say rick, i never wanted iverson on this team, he is not a team player and he could not handle wallace calling him out or even co existing with wallace and jax..keep winning bobcats, friday night is payback time for the clippers..let's make it 5 in a row..

Posted by: tim | Mar 11, 2010 8:52:55 AM

I think you're right about Jordan but the bad news is that's not the way to build a championship team. With the way the current CBA is structured you have to build through the draft capitalizing on the cheap talent during the rookie salary scale period.

That's one weakness for both Jordan and to be honest Larry Brown as well who struggle in talent evaluation. They also need to work on finding diamonds in the rough. Derrick Brown is a good start but I think second round picks in this draft will give you a high return because of the threat of a work stoppage after next season, increasing the odds many underclassmen will declare.

Finding those hidden gems will be key to this team improving

Posted by: QCSports | Mar 11, 2010 8:58:22 AM

Bobcats on a roll these days that is the only concerned i have. I think Tyrus is better than Diaw do to his ability but they could be a power forward tandem. Wallace is playing ball and Jackson is a go to guy that people have to trap and look for so he will not always score 30 pts. again. I think he is the most versatile player on the team. Represent the city and get that 6th or 7th spot. I think we have a team here that might upset the upper seeds. Look at the Tyrus trade and the chicago bulls slipping again.

Posted by: tbird | Mar 11, 2010 8:59:40 AM

Rick,

I shoot hoops with some guys and they are always jawin' "Get some of that, you fools!" It's just street talk...hoops talk. Surprising coming from a professorial writer, but interesting. Don't let the other posters try to twist it. It's just hard to project a smile and a wink through a post/email. I'm still not a believer. I think that these guys can beat any team any night, but can't on a consistent basis. LB can milk all the energy/talent one night and then they'll slip 2 or 3. How can you be excited about going to the playoffs when you know that they will win the first game by 30 and then lose the rest?

Posted by: Roger Whitmire | Mar 11, 2010 9:02:10 AM

okay roger,
How could you get excited. You obviously know whats going to happen in the playoffs, since the bobcats have been there before right? Good, because ill be sure to just get a ticket to that first game. Since they wont be winning anymore after that.

Posted by: cats | Mar 11, 2010 9:22:08 AM

Once again rick is off the mark!

Charles Barkley called out GERALD WALLACE on NATIONAL TV.....

He claimed Wallace only cared about making the ALL-STAR team.....Wallace started playing better after Barkley slammed him...


JUST THE FACTS ..... JUST THE FACTS ....

Posted by: Scott | Mar 11, 2010 10:03:34 AM

lmao u guys are sooo funny , love it and lets go bobcats

Posted by: geraldtoallstar10 | Mar 11, 2010 10:03:46 AM

lmao u guys are sooo funny , love it and lets go bobcats

Posted by: geraldtoallstar10 | Mar 11, 2010 10:03:47 AM

rick,
keep up the good work. i love you blog and it is obvious your remarks were intended as a joke. some people just are smart enough to figure that out.

Posted by: The Future | Mar 11, 2010 10:04:41 AM

Rick - to be a great GM in this league you have got to be able to both TRADE and DRAFT.

If you DRAFT you are taking considerable risks that don't always pan out. for every Kobe there is a Kwame (or an Adam). Hard to build a winning franchise on the draft alone.

If your TRADE you are paying top dollar for players who have proven abilities.

Given the salary (and luxury tax) cap implications, you really need a balanced portfolio of players: some getting their market value (veterans) and others getting the rookie scale. Balancing out both types of players creates a quality squad of 13-15 players that fits the salary guidelines.

If MJ continues to go the TRADE route, it'll be challenging to get quality without paying up for it. How is he going to re-sign Felton next year and stay under the luxury cap? That's the box they've gotten into by trading draft picks for quality players - the portfolio is unbalanced. (however i do like the short term results!)

Posted by: Bobfan1 | Mar 11, 2010 10:17:13 AM

I was one of the "fools" who wanted A.I. too. At the time we were a decent defensive team and an absolutely horrible offensive team. We could only muster 59 points against the Celtics for Chissakes! All I wanted was A.I.'s 17 ppg.

A lot of people predicted that Jax would be a locker room cancer and so far that hasn't happened. You can't always accurately predict future behavior based on past.

Posted by: apauldds | Mar 11, 2010 10:27:41 AM

For any of you posters complaining about Bonnell and his coverage of the Bobcats, at least he's knowledgeable about the team, the NBA and the coaches. Just be thankful they don't have the columnists trying to make up stuff to sell the paper.

And it's still funny to me that Chandler got upset about GW calling him on being slack. It is what it is. Just because GW is paid less than Chandler doesn't mean he's not the leader of the team.

And thank goodness again for Flip Murray (if Flip hadn't been on our roster when Iverson was offering his fire-sale, we might of had an even closer seat to his inevitable implosion).

Go Cats

Posted by: BlockParty | Mar 11, 2010 10:28:15 AM

Ari,

Nice to see Tyrus still has fans following him from Chicago. I have watched every game since the bobcats picked up Tyrus and i will tell you that he was definitely a missing piece. The biggest thing this trade did was give Diaw a kick in the pants. Diaw has been averaging close to a tripple double since the trade. I don't see Tyrus starting any time soon barring injury but he gets plenty of playing time as it is. I miss Flip Murray and hope we can sign him next season.

Posted by: nucat | Mar 11, 2010 10:34:30 AM

Rick,

The blog is great. Don't let these responses get to you. Remember, in the world of sports, every "fool" thinks that he knows exactly how to win a championship. Including me. Everyone has an opinion and some people just want to get on the blog to talk trash to whoever will read it.

That said, I initially thought that AI could be valuable to the Bobcats. I definitely did not foresee the complete meltdown that was to come.

Posted by: QC King | Mar 11, 2010 10:38:04 AM

Great article, great insight, and great "call-out." I'm loving this season and how the team is handling a lot of different things. While trying to avoid the negative posts I do have to ask . . . why was Wallace still in the game while we were up 15 with two minutes left?

Posted by: boomer7 | Mar 11, 2010 10:46:23 AM

Rick! I love you man, and thanks for calling out those guys who wanted AI! Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Jerzy Dudek | Mar 11, 2010 11:00:44 AM

Good explanation for the Bobcats' current winning streak, Rick, but is it a sufficient one? I'd certainly add to it canceling the game day shootarounds. The Bobcats were looking flat in games they lost in February and early March, they were not able to maintain a high level of energy throughout an entire game. Coach Brown was aware of the wear out, especially on the wing players, and his decision on these shootarounds - by leaving the players with more energy to be spent in the games - is paying dividends now.

This is not coming instead of your explanation, but it's adding to it. Playing as a team requires effort: running without the ball to the right spots in offense, fighting together for rebounds, switching and helping in defense, that's always harder than just doing your own thing as an individual player. I don't think the Cats suddenly became selfish and didn't want to carry out Coach's teachings about team work and effort; I think we were seeing wear out during their slump. Even missing open shots (which happened a lot) had to with tired legs.

I'm glad coach Brown found a simple recipe that improves the players' level of energy in the games.

Posted by: Sandy | Mar 11, 2010 11:17:05 AM

some people are just bored and want to whine & bitch about everything you say. Keep up the good work Rick, I check in on your blog numerous times a day hoping for updates on the Bobcats! It's so nice to finally have a good NBA to follow again ! (esp. with the way the Panthers, Hurricanes, and Tar Heels have played.) GO BOBCATS!

Posted by: tom P | Mar 11, 2010 11:29:10 AM

I thought Rick's joke was funny.

It's a blog, people. It's the irreverent version of the printed word. Get over it. And yourselves.

Posted by: BullCityDog | Mar 11, 2010 11:43:53 AM

Actually, I think the 4 game winning streak has to do with the play of the bench more so that Boris Diaw. Yes, Diaw has been more involved and active over the last two weeks, scoring more consistently and getting himself more involved in games. But, the bench has definitely provided a spark that the 'Cats need. Rather than just trying to maintain any lead, the bench has actually extended leads and gotten the team back in games (ala Miami when we were down 15 with the starters). The spark the bench provided has been instrumental during this run, and I believe that is why Larry Brown has kept Tyrus Thomas as the 6th man, instead of him being the starter, to provide that spark off the bench.

Our bench used to be the bottom of the league in production. Now, we have Tyson Chandler, Tyrus Thomas, and D.J Augustin producing much needed pts, rebs, and asts, it makes the game easier for the starting players.

Just imagine where we can go with this deep bench now and good play from Felton, Wallace AND Jax at the same time. Talk about a blowout.

Jax and Wallace (except last night) have been mediocre during this run, and if they improve their play (especially Jax's consistency), this team can go further than we all think.

Posted by: KYL | Mar 11, 2010 12:52:07 PM

Should the bobcats sign Rafer Alston, if he is not going back to the heat?

Posted by: Nick | Mar 11, 2010 12:55:32 PM

Don't pay attention to the haters, Rick. You are doing a good job and 99% of us readers appreciate it.

Posted by: G'boro Cats Fan | Mar 11, 2010 1:32:07 PM

Who cares, they are all thugs anyway.

Go STEELERS! and GO DIUKE!

Posted by: Kevin | Mar 11, 2010 1:34:48 PM

I was one of those who wrote they should pick up Iverson and I was wrong. Then again, Rick, I seem to remember you writing a blog about "passing on Stephen Jackson."

Posted by: HJ | Mar 11, 2010 3:19:17 PM

One more point: my argument was that they needed to take a risk to improve . I also threw out Zack Randolph and Stephen Jackson as those "risk" players. I became desperate and went to Iverson.

Posted by: HJ | Mar 11, 2010 3:20:40 PM

Rick, you know folks can go back and look at the other blogs where some of your "predictions" or "recommendations" were way off (see, not trading Brandan Wright pick, signing Verajao to the offer sheet, and Boykins pick up).

Posted by: LL | Mar 11, 2010 3:27:37 PM

I'm sick of comments bashing CO writers!!Why read their material?Furthermore; why open the CO paper or read on line.Go find another paper!!Mr.Rick Bonnell has been around for years; all the way back to the Hornets inception.I know he knows more than you bashers!He has first hand knowledge by being at the games & in the locker rooms.Go read the Penny Saver if you don't like his writing!!

By the way Rick; how far will Orangemen go in the Big Dance?

Posted by: panfan1 | Mar 11, 2010 4:02:14 PM

give 'em hell, rick!

Posted by: Bob-bob-bob Bob-bob-ra Anne | Mar 11, 2010 7:36:14 PM

Gerald is a very smart, multi-dimensional player. Its been fun watching him emerge over the last 6 years. Have you noticed how he's stopped complaining so much to the refs to set an example for the team? This guy is a leader and a winner. Love having him on our team - hope he retires as a Bobcat. Go Cats!

Posted by: jiff65 | Mar 11, 2010 8:33:25 PM

Rick,

I dont believe you have ever played ball a day in your life, and if you did it wasnt anything to write home about. DJ is doing a great job yes he has off nights, but so does everyone. D.J. size is not a limitation and he will not always be a back up. He has the potential to go really far in the NBA and the fact that everyone doubts him makes him the under dog.I like the under dogs. Felton is a adverage point guard nothing special, he should be someones back up. When you look at alot of point guards starting in the NBA right now they are not much bigger that DJ. So maybe you should write about something else instead of slamming this kid for his size. Cause i watched the last couple of games and if DJ hadnt contributed then we may have lost. i like him and I wish him the best GO CATS.

Posted by: Karen | Mar 13, 2010 2:38:03 PM

Bonnell is wrong so often (Do I really need to bring up examples?), that I'll give him credit for being right. Passing on Iverson was smart--only because we were able to get Jackson.

Posted by: RP | Mar 19, 2010 11:35:35 PM

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