Charlotte Bobcats Status Check:
Home Record: 10-9
Last game: Won 96-82 vs. Grizzlies
Last 10 Games: 5-5
PPG: 93.2 (28th)
Opponents PPG: 96.9 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 101.9 (26th)
Defensive Rating: 105.9 (14th)
Pace: 90.9 (20th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .488 (18th)
Turnover Percentage: .164 (30th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .754 (6th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .274 (11th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .240 (9th)
Opp. eFG%: .496 (14th)
Opp. TO%: .138 (14th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .229 (14th)
Leading scorer: Stephen Jackson (18.8 PPG)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Bobcats Injury Report:
Gerald Wallace: Bone bruise left ankle (will play)
Nazr Mohammed: Bone bruise right knee (questionable)
DeSagana Diop: Ruptured right Achilles (out for the season)
Charlotte appears to be a hot team. Since Michael Jordan fired Larry Brown and replaced him with Paul Silas, the Bobcats have gone 5-2. What’s more, they’re on a season-best three-game winning streak, during which they’ve averaged 102.7 PPG. That may not sound impressive, but it’s nearly 10 PPG above their season average. And the Bobcats have scored 92 or fewer points 17 times this season, which includes games of 75, 73 and 62 points.
The ‘Cats are 2-15 in those games.
But, to be honest, their streak might be a bit of a mirage. First because of what I like to call the dead coach bounce. Second, look at the teams they’ve beaten during their “hot” streak: Detroit (12-25), Cleveland (8-30), Minnesota (9-30), Washington (10-26) and Memphis (17-21). And only their game against the Timberwolves was on the road.
Now they have to try and beat a team on the plus side of .500. How good have the Bulls been this season? According to STATS LLC: “Chicago (25-12) hasn’t started this well since the 1997-98 season, when the Bulls opened 26-11 on their way to finishing 62-20 and winning the last of their six titles.”
Of course, comparing any current Bulls squad to any of the Michael Jordan era title teams is tricky business.
Still, Derrick Rose has been playing out of his mind. Rose is currently 7th in both Total Points (876) and Points Per Game (24.3). He’s also 5th in Field Goals (324), 7th in Usage Percentage (31.0), 8th in Total Assists (292), 8th in Assists Per Game (8.1) and 10th in Assist Percentage (40.0). He’s also averaging 4.5 RPG and 1.1 SPG while shooting nearly 40 percent on threes and almost 80 percent from the line.
Speaking of “from the line,” Derrick has finally figured out how to draw fouls in the NBA. Rose has attempted 58 free throws over his last six games, including a career-high 19 attempts against the Celtics last Saturday.
Carlos Boozer has been playing pretty well too. Boozer is averaging a double-double (20.6 PPG and 0.1 RPG) and ranks 7th in Field Goal Percentage (55.9). In the 13 games the Bulls have played without Joakim Noah, Boozington has 10 double-doubles. In the last three games, Boozer has gone off for 31-13, 22-10 and 27-11 while shooting 35-for-51 from the field (68 percent).
Unfortunately, most of the scoring burden has been falling on Rose, Boozer and Luol Deng (17.8 PPG). In fact, poor Luol is averaging a career-high 39.1 MPG. He’s logged at least 40 minutes in 20 games and came within five seconds of making it 21 games. Deng has played 40+ minutes in four of the last five games. Given his injury history, this is more than a little troubling. Is James Johnson really bad enough to risk Lu’s health?
At any rate, all things being equal, I think the Bulls are the better team. Unfortunately, all things aren’t equal. Noah is still out of action and Gerald Wallace — who may be Charlotte’s best player — is set to return tonight. They’ve been facing bad teams, but the Bobcats have been playing inspired basketball. Plus they’re at home. And don’t forget the Bulls dropped back-to-back road games to the Nets (10-27) and Sixers (15-23) last week.
The Bobcats are dangerous. They can play defense and have streaky scorers. They’re amped up to be playing under a new coach. I think the Bulls should be able to win this one…but I don’t believe they will.