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January 29, 2013

Video highlights: Chicago Bulls 93, Charlotte Bobcats 85

The Charlotte Bobcats were defeated by the Chicago Bulls, 93-85. Kemba Walker had 18 points and five assists in the loss for Charlotte. Ben Gordon scored 18 points off the bench.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 29, 2013 at 01:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

January 27, 2013

Video: Charlotte Bobcats edge Minnesota Timberwolves, 102-101

Gerald Henderson hit a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left and the Charlotte Bobcats ended a 16-game home losing streak by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 102-101. Kemba Walker had 25 points.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 27, 2013 at 12:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

January 23, 2013

Bobcats commission polls on possible nickname change to "Hornets''

By Rick Bonnell


            With the New Orleans Hornets announcing Thursday afternoon they’ll change their nickname to the Pelicans, the Charlotte Bobcats face this question:

            Would adopting “Hornets,’’ the nickname first associated with NBA basketball in Charlotte, drive up sales of game tickets and team merchandise?

            The Bobcats are already engaged in market research to find out. They’ve hired Harris Interactive, a nationally prominent polling company, to survey both current Bobcats customers and the general Charlotte sports market about a possible change.

            The Observer obtained a copy of the survey Harris emailed to various Bobcats season-ticket holders Wednesday. The electronic survey takes about 30 minutes to fill out, and asks all sorts of questions about the Bobcats, the Hornets and the general perception of what would sell more game tickets and team gear.

            One question, about halfway through Harris’ survey, is the crux of the issue:

    “If the Bobcats were to change their nickname to the ‘Hornets,’ would you attend more games than you currently do, attend fewer games, or attend about the same amount?’

    The Bobcats aren’t commenting on the situation in New Orleans, since the name change won’t become official until a Thursday afternoon news conference. However, an NBA source confirmed to the Observer Tuesday night that Hornets owner Tom Benson has been given permission to switch the nickname to the Pelicans, an iconic bird in the state of Louisiana.

    A grassroots effort called “Bring Back the Buzz’’ has lobbied for a name change from Bobcats to Hornets for over a year. Several hundred members of that group attended Saturday’s home loss to the Sacramento Kings.

    Sitting mostly in the upper deck, they wore Hornets teal-and-purple merchandise and occasionally chanted “Charlotte Hornets’’ during the game.

    That group was heartened when Benson, who also owns the NFL New Orleans Saints, said he wanted a nickname more associated with Louisiana.

    The Hornets name is seemingly now available. NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in April that if the Bobcats want the Hornets name, “it’s something we would clearly look at.’’ Silver added that a switch would be relatively simple since the league already owns all the trademarks.

Bobcats president Fred Whitfield told the Observer last month that a name change would cost the team at least $3 million to implement. Whitfield added that the team’s current stakeholders – season-ticket holders, sponsors and suite-holders – would have a big voice in any decision.

“Some of them have invested in us for nine years as Bobcats fans,’’ Whitfield said.

The issue isn’t just whether “Bobcats’’ or “Hornets’’ is more appealing to the Charlotte public. It’s whether a name change would actually drive sales of tickets, merchandise and general interest in this team.

Or as one item on the Bobcats’ survey posed, “When you think of the team nickname ‘Hornets,’ what comes to mind?’’

That is the $3 million question.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 23, 2013 at 06:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (158)

January 22, 2013

Memphis Grizzlies do salary dump, relieving pressure to trade Rudy Gay

    Looks like the “Where does Rudy Gay get traded?’’ speculation goes on hold, at least for a while.

            The Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly doing a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sending Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round pick to Cleveland in return for forward Jon Leuer.

            This has next to nothing to do with the players involved, but a ton to do with the salary exchange. The Grizzlies would lower their payroll by about $6 million, falling below the anticipated luxury-tax threshold this season.

            In doing so, the Grizzlies can forestall any need to move Gay or Zach Randolph to manage the future implications of luxury tax. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, repeat offenders against the tax will be heavily penalized financially. It’s tough for the Grizzlies to justify such an expense in a mid-size NBA market.

            The Bobcats seemed like one of the teams that would be interested in Gay. President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins told the Observer last week that the team is aggressively looking at trade opportunities.

            As Higgins put it, “I don’t think there’s any limits to what we’d try to do.’’

    The Grizzlies were seemingly in a bind. They’d like to hold together their core of Gay, Randolph, center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley. The growing payroll and luxury-tax complications set off wide-spread speculation they’d have to move a core player.

            Now the Grizzlies have seemingly kicked that can down the road, at least until after this season.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

January 15, 2013

Can Bobcats rebound from the night they didn't really rebound?

Some thoughts on a really bad night for the Charlotte Bobcats: a 103-76 home loss to the Indiana Pacers.

            --I started covering the NBA in 1988 and I can’t remember a team being outrebounded by 29. So much about rebounding is what happens before the ball comes off the rim or the glass – positioning, blocking out, following the ball’s flight. Didn’t see any of that from the home team.

            --When coach Mike Dunlap said his team does OK when it “rebounds by committee,’’ he’s right. But that means the five guards who play a lot grabbing more than their share of long boards. Those five – Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon, Jeff Taylor and Ramon Sessions – combined for six total rebounds in a collective 112 minutes.

            --The home losing streak is now at 13, which is no way to build an audience. Average margin of defeat in those 13 games is 9.9 points. The last home victory was Nov. 21` against the Toronto Raptors.

            Since then they’ve blown a couple of big leads at Time Warner Cable Arena (losing to Portland and New Orleans) and been blown out in a couple (losing by 30 to San Antonio and 27 by the Pacers).

            --Next home game is Saturday against a 14-24 Sacramento Kings team. But remember the Kings’ best player is center DeMarcus Cousins, who will create just the sort of low-post scoring and offensive rebounding problems the Pacers exploited Tuesday.

            --Dunlap was asked post-game if he needs the front office to find him some big-man help. Dunlap replied “I’ve stayed in my lane,’’ as in he coaches the players in the locker room and doesn’t publicly invoke his voice in player-personnel calls.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

January 13, 2013

Video: Charlotte Bobcats fall to Indiana Pacers, 96-88

Ben Gordon logged a game-high 21 points for Charlotte, but the struggling Bobcats couldn’t overcome the Indiana Pacers in Saturday night's 96-88 loss. Kemba Walker drained 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 13, 2013 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

January 12, 2013

Video: Toronto Raptors blow out Charlotte Bobcats

The Charlotte Bobcats were crushed by the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, 99-78. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ben Gordon each had 12 points. The Bobcats play the Indiana Pacers next.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 12, 2013 at 01:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 07, 2013

Video: Charlotte Bobcats top Detroit Pistons, 106-101, in OT

The Charlotte Bobcats won for just the second time in 21 games in a 108-101 overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons. Kemba Walker scored a team-high 20 points. Bismack Biyombo grabbed 17 rebounds.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 7, 2013 at 12:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

January 05, 2013

A postscript on Bobcats-Cavaliers

Some post-game thoughts on the Charlotte Bobcats’ 106-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers:

            --There are going to be 15 games this season when Ben Gordon (33 points) is white-hot and you just milk his scoring ability until he falls over. Tonight Gordon and Ramon Sessions (20 points 12-of-12 from the foul line) were both in that zone, which meant Kemba Walker didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

            --“Player development’’ is at the top of the agenda the front office gave coach Mike Dunlap, and appropriately so. That means when a decision is close, play the young guys over the old guys. But you sure weren’t going to sit Gordon when he was playing like this (11-of-20 from the field), so there really wasn’t any way to play Walker down the stretch without making your lineup ridiculously small.

            --The real problem in this game was the Bobcats committing 10 first-half turnovers. They started out this season very effective in protecting possession, but that’s eroded of late. They’ve committed 16 or more turnovers in three of their last five games. They’re just not good enough defensively to overcome handing the other team all those extra, high-quality scoring opportunities.

            --Tyrus Thomas did well in his first game back from a six-week layoff with a calf strain. In 12 ½ minutes Thomas had four points and four rebounds, and took a charge from Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter when Irving was burning every other Bobcat.

            --I heard some second-guessing of Dunlap’s decision to have Jeff Taylor guard Irving down the stretch. I thought it was a good decision. Taylor has quick, reliable feet and at 6-7 he’s long enough to be hard to launch jump shots over. It’s not like Irving’s game-winner was an easy attempt. Don’t see how anyone else on this team would have made it tougher.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 5, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Video: Charlotte Bobcats lose heartbreaker to Cleveland Cavaliers, 106-104

Ben Gordon scored 27 points and dished out four assists, but it wasn't enough to save the Bobcats in a 106-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Charlotte has lost 19 of its last 20 games.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on January 5, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)