Time to Hunt some ‘Cats

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Published: December 28, 2007

GAME PREVIEW! 

Matchup: Hornets(18-10) @ Bobcats(10-16)
Opposing Blogger: Queen City Hoops  or Bobcats Bonfire

The Hornets roll into their old home in Charlotte tonight to see if they can put down some Bobcats before being forced to rush back home and defend New Orleans from some Cavalier invaders and their so-called King.

The unfortunate Cats were declawed from the start this season, with both Adam Morrison and Sean May going down before opening night with season-ending surgeries.  Now, some would say Morrison being out is a blessing, and Sean May has been injury prone in his first two years, but the Cats were already a really thin bunch.  Ripping out two tall guys hurts bad.  As a result, they've had a rough start.  A recent trade with Detroit to get Nazr Mohammed will help, since they gave up the Awful Primoz Brezec and Walter "I hate rebounding more than Primoz Brezec" Hermann, but even with the trade this team has a paper-thin frontcourt.

The Hornets come into this game with a thin front line as well.  Tyson Chandler and David West are great, but Hilton Armstrong may not play due to a sprained ankle, Ryan Bowen will not play due to the same, and Melvin Ely is out with a broken face.  That leaves Julian Wright, the 6-8 rookie beanpole, to back up both big man spots.  Not good.

On a side note, I refer to the Bobcats as the Unfortunate Bobcats all the time.  Look at their last drafts.  They got 2nd pick in the draft that produced Dwight Howard as the 1st pick.  They got the 5th pick in the draft that Paul went 4th in, and they got Adam Morrison 3rd in . . . well there's no excuse there.  Adam sucks and they could have had Brandon Roy or Tyrus Thomas.  Still, that's got to burn you up to miss on superstars two years in a row.

Positional Analysis
PG:
Raymond Felton vs. Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Ray is the forgotten man in that great 2004 point guard draft, going right behind Chris Paul at number 5.  He's been solid this season, averaging 15 points and 7 assists, but the knock on him out of college is that he couldn't shoot.  In his third year, he's posting his best shooting percentage yet, but he's still only knocking down 42% of his shots, 34% from 3-point range.  He has gotten up for games against Paul in the past, so I expect him to play well, but Paul is on a whole different level right now.

SG: Jason Richardson vs. Morris Peterson
Advantage: Bobcats
This isn't as big of an advantage as it should be.  Richardson's best offensive weapon is his three-point shot, which he's been hitting at a great 44.8%.  Still, he's slowed some since his high-flying days, and his dribbling skills are still suspect.  Peterson will either be hitting or not.  If he's hitting, he'll be about even with Richardson.  If he's not, he'll only play 19 minutes and it won't matter much.

SF: Gerald Wallace vs. Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Bobcats
Wallace is known as "Crash", and he is an energetic player highly dependent on his athleticism for his offense.  He's actually having a bit of a down year, but he's still effective and will be a tough cover for Peja.  If Peja played a little harder, I might still give him this edge, but he just doesn't do that much anymore besides shooting and refusing to finish fast breaks if he might receive contact.

PF: Emeka Okafor vs. David West
Advantage: Hornets
Emeka doesn't get enough shots in the Cat's guard-focused offense.  He's got a solid offensive post game, and if he got the ball more, I think the Bobcats stagnant offense would get a nice boost.  That said, even if he got more shots, I think West still has him. West's defense has gotten better this year, growing in conjunction with the size of his biceps(it's still impressive how big West is this year.  He's probably added 20 points of pure muscle.)  His offensive game will keep Okafar farther from the basket than he'd probably like, and West has a myriad of offensive moves to go to.  He has so many that at times he messes up because he can't decide which one to use.  I can live with that though.

C: Nazr Mohammed vs. Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
I love Tyson, but he does have some trouble holding on to the ball at times.  Tonight, he meets Nazr, who is a good defender, rebounder and dunker, but his ability to hold onto the ball makes Tyson look like Randy Moss. Tyson is an all around better version of Nazr, and his name doesn't sound like "Nazi" when pronounced correctly, so he's clearly got the advantage.

Bench
Advantage: Hornets
Here's the proof that the Bobcats are a thin team.  The Hornets, even missing Hilton Armstrong, Ryan Bowen, and Melvin Ely, have a stronger bench than the Bobcats.  Charlotte has one solid contributer in Matt Carroll, and the rest of their second unit is terrible.  Ryan Hollins is nearing serviceable, Jeff McInnis is awful, Derek Anderson old, and Jared Dudley is limited.  They have a hard time scoring and Wright, Butler, Jackson and Pargo's specialty is defense.  It'll be ugly offensively when the two teams have their second units in.

I think the Hornets have this one, even if the Bobcats are 9-7 at home.  Paul is playing at a crazy level right now, and the entire Hornets team is feeding off of it.

Hornets win 100-92.

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