By Matt Rochinski
November 26, 2012
KEY MATCHUP vs THUNDER
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Kevin Durant
Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been living up to the expectations the Bobcats had for him when they selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. MKG ranks in the top five for rookies in four major categories – second in rebounds (6.9), blocks (1.50) and steals (1.33), fourth in scoring (11.7 points) – and also ranks ninth in assists (1.7). He is the only rookie to rank in the Top 10 in all five of these categories. As the month rolls on, MKG is only getting better at adjusting to the pace of the NBA game. He’s scored in double digits in five straight games, and over the last four games is averaging 1.75 steals while turning the ball over just 0.75 times per contest. He’s also been key to a Cats defense that ranks first in blocks (8.75) and second in steals (9.50), as he’s often called upon to guard the opposition’s best player… Don’t look for that to change on Monday, when Kidd-Gilchrist matches up with Kevin Durant. The Thunder’s leader and early MVP candidate is leading Oklahoma City in scoring (26.5 points), rebounding (9.4) and steals (2.00), while ranking second in assists (4.5) and blocks (1.36). If MKG can find a way to slow Durant on his home court, the Cats could surprise the Thunder in OKC.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (7-5)
The Bobcats grabbed their sixth win in eight games and became the fastest NBA team to reach their previous season’s win total with a 108-106 double-overtime victory on November 24 in Washington. The Bobcats recorded their seventh win of last season on March 17, 2012… With the win in Washington, the “Cardiac Cats” moved to 6-0 this season in games decided by four points or less… Head Coach Mike Dunlap has stressed a defensive mindset in his first year at the helm and the Bobcats are putting it to work, ranking first in the league in blocks (8.75), second in steals (9.50), fourth in opponent turnovers forced (16.8) and 12th in rebounding (42.3)… Kemba Walker continues to lead the Cats with 18.0 points and 6.0 assists in a stellar sophomore season in which he has scored in double digits in all 12 contests. He’s also getting it done defensively, ranking second on the team with 2.33 steals and grabbing 4.0 rebounds from the point guard position.
SCOUTING THE THUNDER (10-4)
The defending Western Conference Champions enter Monday’s game with the third-best record in the West and have won four of their last five, including two straight at Chesapeake Energy Arena… Winning on OKC’s home court has not been easy for opponents this season, where the Thunder are 6-2… Kevin Durant has led OKC’s strong start to the season, but Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka have given the Thunder’s “Big Three” a solid outside-inside presence… Westbrook is leading the team in assists (8.4) and is second on the team in scoring (21.8 points) and steals (1.57)… Ibaka has nearly doubled his career scoring average (8.5 points) with 15.1 points this season on 57.7 percent shooting from the field and 88.1 percent shooting from the line – both career bests. He’s tied with Indiana’s Roy Hibbert for the NBA lead in blocks (3.07) and brings down 7.6 rebounds, as well.
The Bobcats tip off at 8 p.m. tonight in Oklahoma City. You can watch the game 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.