By Caroline Sikes
November 20, 2012
KEY MATCHUP vs RAPTORS
Ramon Sessions vs. DeMar DeRozan
Sessions has been coming up big off the bench for the Bobcats early in the season, splitting minutes with Kemba Walker at point, but Head Coach Mike Dunlap also likes to leave Sessions in at the two spot. In the first nine games, Sessions has averaged 16.6 points and has scored in double figures every contest while shooting 42.2 percent. The guard also dishes out 4.2 assists and grabs 3.6 boards in 27.7 minutes. Sessions tends to remain on the court late in the game so it will be crucial for him to play lockdown defense on the Raptors leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan… He averages 19.0 points while shooting 45.2 percent in a team-high 36.9 minutes, with 2.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds. He tied his career high of 37 points against the Jazz on November 12. It will be interesting to see whether Sessions or DeRozan can take control of the game.
KEY MATCHUP vs. HAWKS
Byron Mullens vs. Josh Smith
As Mullens continues to work on his post game, the big man provides a matchup problem for most teams. Right now, Mullens averages 12.9 points to go with his team-leading 9.0 rebounds. He has sunk 14 3-pointers, leading the Cats in this category. Mullens presence on the defensive end is also continuing to improve, as evidenced by his four-block game on November 14 in Minnesota. Mullens averages 1.00 steal and 1.00 block and will have to take on Josh Smith from the Hawks… Smith is tied for a team-high with 15.6 points while grabbing 8.3 boards and blocking 2.00 shots. He shoots 41.3 percent from the field, but has been struggling from the charity stripe, only connecting on 36.8 percent of his attempts. Mullens will have to show up strong in the paint to compete with Smith.
KEY MATCHUP vs. WIZARDS
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Trevor Ariza
MKG has quickly stepped in and provided valuable minutes in his rookie season. He currently averages 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.56 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.11 steals as he continues to stuff the stat sheet. When the Cats played the Wizards on November 13, MKG scored 15 points (6-for-11 shooting) and had eight rebounds in 27 minutes… Trevor Ariza will be MKG’s defensive assignment as the teams face off for the second time. In the first game, Ariza had a team-high 19 points and was the only Wizard player to score in double figures. On the season, Ariza averages 8.6 points, 4.8 boards and 2.38 steals.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (5-4)
The Bobcats are 4-1 in their last five contests and will be entering the third game of a four-game homestand, following a 102-98 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and a respectable loss to the NBA’s best in the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday… Head Coach Mike Dunlap has been emphasizing how important defense is for the success of this team and the message is getting across. Throughout eight games, the Cats are ranked second in the league in blocks (7.8), seventh in rebounds (43.9) and seventh in steals (9.0)… Kemba Walker’s play has been essential to the Bobcats success this season. He is leading the team in multiple categories with 18.8 points, 5.3 assists and 2.56 steals. Currently, his 2.56 steals has Walker ranked fourth in the league… On the offensive end the Bobcats have had balanced contributions, with six players averaging double-figure scoring and the team connecting on 42.2 percent of its shot attempts.
SCOUTING THE RAPTORS (3-7 as of 11/19)
After losing four games in a row, the Raptors have won two of their last three… Toronto is not entirely healthy as they head to Charlotte. Alan Anderson (left foot), Landry Fields (surgery on right elbow), and Kyle Lowry (right foot) have all been sidelined due to injuries. To make up for the lack of depth, they have relied heavily on DeMar DeRozan (19.0 points) on the wing and Andrea Bargnani (16.2) down low… Jose Calderon has filled the point guard vacancy nicely, dishing out double-digit assists in four of the last five games.
SCOUTING THE HAWKS (4-4 as of 11/19)
The Hawks post a .500 winning percentage heading into Monday’s contests and are 3-2 on the road as they travel to Charlotte… Through eight games, the Hawks have five guys averaging double-figure scoring, including Josh Smith and Al Horford both tied for a team-high 15.6 points… Jeff Teague has been efficient for the Hawks at the point with 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 1.5 assists. It will be interesting to see if Kemba Walker can slow Teague on the offensive end by taking away shots and getting in the passing lanes.
SCOUTING THE WIZARDS (0-7 as of 11/19)
The Wizards continue to struggle early in the season as they deal with injuries and issues finding consistent scoring… As of Monday, The Wizards are last in the league in field percentage (40.1 percent), points per game (86.63) and have only reached the 100-point plateau once… Currently, only two players for the Wizards average double digits in scoring – Jordan Crawford (12.4) and Bradley Beal (10.9).
You have two more chances to catch the Cats at home this week as they take on the Raptors in Wednesday Night Basketball on November 21 and the Hawks on Friday, November 23. Both games are at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena®. Then follow the Bobcats as they travel to Washington to take on the Wizards on Saturday, November 24 at 7 p.m. You can watch all three games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Then download the Bobcats app on your smartphone or go to bobcats.com to follow the live in-game chat.