Jefferson, Kidd-Gilchrist’s return spark Bobcats
After dropping eight of their last 10 games, the Charlotte Bobcats got a much-needed win Tuesday over the New York Knicks.
It’s the first time since Dec. 17 where the Bobcats held an opponent to fewer than 100 points in a victory.
Al Jefferson led all scorers with 35 points. Jefferson went 14-for-20 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Jefferson has struggled in his first season in Charlotte, largely due to an ankle injury he suffered in preseason. Jefferson re-aggravated the injury a few times during the beginning of the season which has limited his lift off his right ankle.
“I don’t have the lift off my right ankle,” he said. “I have to jump off my left ankle.”
Jefferson is shooting a career low 46 percent from the field this season. Jefferson said he will likely undergo surgery on his ankle in the offseason.
While Jefferson’s season-high in points was the biggest factor in the Bobcats win, the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to the starting lineup gave the team a boost defensively.
After missing the previous 19 games, Kidd-Gilchrist was matched against Carmelo Anthony for most of the night. Anthony was held to 20 points on 22 shots.
“I don’t take this game for granted,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I was having fun today – smiling and playing a little defense, too.”
The Bobcats went 7-12 without Kidd-Gilchrist, who’s been the Bobcats most valuable defender this season. According to 82games.com, the Bobcats are giving up seven and a half fewer points with Kidd-Gilchrist on the court.
“You could see the value of Gilchrist,” Coach Steve Clifford said. “Energy and intensity – those are skills. He’s just normally a competitor.”
The J.R. Smith Show Comes To Charlotte
Loud chants of “J.R. Smith” were heard in the fourth quarter at Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday night, but they were not obliged by Coach Mike Woodson.
“I’m not even commenting on J.R.,” Woodson said. “I just didn’t play him tonight. I didn’t play him.”
Smith was benched for the second time in four games as the Knicks five-game win streak was snapped. Recent have fueled what appears to be a broken relationship between Smith and Woodson.
Smith was suspended for the first five games of the season after failing a league drug test. Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA last week for untying sneakers of his opponents. Smith was benched for the Knicks next game.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “For that to be the trigger point for all of this to happen is ridiculous.”
Smith was also fined $25,000 by the NBA for a threatening tweet at Pistons guard Brandon Jennings.
Smith signed a three-year, $17 million contract with the Knicks in the offseason. According to a report by ESPN’s Chris Broussard last summer, the Bobcats had brief interest in Smith’s services before deciding to re-sign Gerald Henderson.
The Knicks have explored trade scenarios, but it’s difficult to imagine many teams having interest with Smith’s distractions this season. Smith hinted that his future with the Knicks could be short-lived.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Smith said. “Take it every day, day by day and figure out what I can do to help the team. If I’m not helping the team, there’s no point in me being here.”
According to Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, Smith was seen packing his suitcase following the game, which isn’t a common sight in the locker room.
When asked if he had any plans to talk to Woodson and the coaching staff about his playing time, Smith said “no.”
Above The Rim
- Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: It’s no coincidence the Bobcats shot 43 percent from 3-point range. The Knicks gave up that shot to give defensive help in the lane, particularly during the second half. Point guard Kemba Walker hit back-to-back 3s in the second half to break open this game. He finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
- Michael Burke, Buckets over Broadway: In the second half, the Knicks were in desperate need of someone to make a couple of quick baskets and give them some energy. Who’s to say that JR couldn’t have done that? Who’s to say that, had he played and played well, the Knicks wouldn’t have actually won?
- Chris Barnewall, Rufus on Fire: The Knicks themselves played really sub-par defense and offense. The Bobcats didn’t play the greatest defense we’ve seen them play but the Knicks offense looked terrible. The team looked tired, which you’d expect in a back-to-back on the road, but it wasn’t the “We’re trying and tired;” It was the “Let’s get this over with” kind of tired.
- Amit Badlani, The Knicks Blog: The Knicks have had success lately because Anthony has become a passing threat as well as a scoring threat. Tuesday, he was only 9-for-22 from the field. When Anthony shoots poorly like that, he makes up for it by getting to the lien, but he only had two FTAs tonight. He had 22 assists during the Knicks five-game win streak, but he only had three against the Bobcats.
- Greg Pietras, Queen City Hoops: Josh McRoberts’ poor run continues, including some painful misses near the basket. Between McRoberts and Cody Zeller, the team isn’t getting much offensive production from its power forwards. The offense tends to click better with McRoberts facilitating, but connecting on a few field goals would go a long way.