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.
February 18, 2014
A Charlotte Bobcats trade for Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol unlikely
The Charlotte Bobcats have been in contact with the Los Angeles Lakers concerning veteran big man Pau Gasol, but a source familiar with the discussion downplayed the likelihood Gasol would end up a Bobcat by Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
Gasol makes over $19 million in this, the final season of his current contract. Superstar Kobe Bryant is hurt and the Lakers have fallen out of the Western Conference playoff race, so getting something for Gasol – like a first-round pick – is something the Lakers have explored.
While adding Gasol could give the Bobcats the short-term boost to make the playoffs, giving up a first-round pick would make Gasol more of a long-term investment. That’s where the Bobcats would have pause.
Gasol turns 34 in July and is playing his 15th NBA season. Is he a long-term fit for the Bobcats, particularly the way Steve Clifford coaches defense? Would Gasol, a Spaniard who has played in Los Angeles the past six seasons, be receptive to finishing out his career in Charlotte?
With those open questions, it’s unlikely the Bobcats would give up a significant first-round pick to acquire a veteran for the season’s last 30 or so games.
Bobcats management is working the phones hard, looking to make some sort of a deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. A big question between now and then will be whether teams pointed toward the draft lottery – “sellers,” so to speak – will reduce their asking prices to give up veteran players in trade.
February 04, 2014
Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford on the challenge guarding Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors
SAN FRANCISCO – The Charlotte Bobcats survived a 43-point game by Stephen Curry to win a December game against the Golden State Warriors 115-111.
That and a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers are the Bobcats’ best wins this season. At shootaround Tuesday morning, I asked coach Steve Clifford what he’ll do to try to contain Charlottean Curry tonight.
“What all the other 29 teams do – hope. Only so much you can do,” Clifford said.
“The problem with their team is they are so skilled. They have a bunch of other guys who can have big, big nights. It’s not like you can commit so much (defensive attention) to him.
Clifford noted that Curry makes 41 percent of his 3-pointers from above the key. That makes the Warriors exceptionally dangerous in the high pick-and-roll
“That’s how the game has changed. When I first got into the league 4-men were power players. So high pick-and-roll (defense) was a lot simpler,” Clifford said. “Now with new rules (no hand-checking) and (power forwards) shooting threes, if you commit two defenders to the ballhandler, you give up a wide-open shot. They do it more than other people. Their 4-man might be under the basket, up with the (ballhandler) or in the corner.
“The high pick-and-roll, with the great scorer and a guy who can really roll, is the hardest thing in the game to guard.”
February 03, 2014
Source: 76ers open to trading Evan Turner, Bobcats have some interest. No deal is imminent
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Philadelphia 76ers are open to trading forward Evan Turner and the Charlotte Bobcats have looked into acquiring him, an NBA source confirmed to the Observer Monday.
Turner, a 6-foot-7 forward, averages 18.1 points and six rebounds this season for the 76ers. He could potentially add the scoring punch the Bobcats need to reach the playoffs for only the second time in their decade-long history.
The question becomes what the Bobcats would be willing to offer, considering Turner would become a restricted free agent this summer. The team with his rights would have to make Turner a qualifying offer of about $8.7 million to restrict him.
The Bobcats have assets they could throw into trades. They could have as many as three first-round picks in what should be a rich 2014 draft – their own and picks potentially owed them by the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons.
However, the Bobcats might owe their own pick to the Chicago Bulls (to complete the Tyrus Thomas trade). The picks Detroit and Portland owe Charlotte have some protection; more than likely the Bobcat get Portland’s pick in June. It’s less likely they end up with Detroit’s.
As far as making a Turner trade work under the salary cap, the Bobcats have Ben Gordon’s expiring contract, worth $13.2 million in cap value this season.
Nothing about the Bobcats’ interest appears imminent to making a deal.