By Ketrell Marshall
March 7, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. THUNDER and WIZARDS
Kemba Walker vs. Russell Westbrook and John Wall
Kemba Walker added to his brilliant sophomore season on Monday against Portland as he earned his third double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high tying 11 assists. He also added four rebounds and three steals. Walker leads the Bobcats in several statistical categories including, points (17.2), assists (5.7), steals (1.92) and minutes (34.4). With Walker striving to become one of the best guards in the NBA, he has a chance to test himself against a three-time All-Star in Russell Westbrook and the Thunder at 7 p.m. on Friday before the Cats head to Washington for a matchup with another up-and-coming point guard, John Wall, at 8 p.m. on March 9…Westbrook has been on a tear in his last five outings, averaging 31.2 points, shooting 52.8 percent from the floor, grabbing 5.2 rebounds and dishing out 5.2 assists. He has also been extremely adept at drawing contact, getting to the charity stripe and converting. During the season he has averaged 7.2 (7th in the NBA) free-throw attempts and makes 80.4 percent of his shots from the line… Wall’s return has clearly elevated the level of play for the Wizards. Washington was 5-28 without Wall this season. Since his return they are 14-12 and their points per game and field goal percentage have improved. In 26 games Wall has averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds…Walker’s leadership, defense and playmaking ability against Westbrook and Wall could show us how he is blossoming into a future all-star and be essential in securing wins against the Thunder and Wizards.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (13-48)
The Cats enter back-to-back games against the Thunder and at the Wizards looking to snap an eight-game losing streak. Charlotte enters these contests noting their bench scoring and the play of rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been impressive as of late. In the last two games the reserves for the Bobcats are averaging 40.0 points, while MKG has back-to-back 17-point games and shooting 66.7 percent from the field while grabbing 7.5 rebounds…The Cats have taken care of the basketball and value each possession. They only average 14.0 turnovers, which is good enough for fifth in the NBA… Defensively, Charlotte has taken advantage of its length and athleticism by averaging 6.15 blocks (sixth in the NBA) led by Bismack Biyombo with 1.69…Taking advantage of each possession and help from the reserves could be key in helping the Bobcats snap this eight-game skid.
SCOUTING THE THUNDER (44-16 as of 3/6)
Heading into their next matchup against the New York Knicks, The Thunder have won five of their last six by an average margin of victory of 22.4 points and rank second in the NBA with 107.0 points per contests led by MVP candidate Kevin Durant (28.6)…OKC’s ability to play at an elite rate on the offensive end has been critical to their achievements this season. The Thunder display some outstanding numbers on the offensive side of the ball, ranking first in free-throw percentage (.832), third in field goal percentage (.483) and third in 3-point percentage (.390). However, taking care of the basketball is an issue for OKC. They average the second most turnovers per game with 15.5…OKC also boasts respectable defensive statistics. They rank first in blocks (7.6) led by Serge Ibaka (2.9) and ninth in steals (8.5) led by Russell Westbrook (1.8)…Oklahoma City currently ranks third in the league in winning percentage (.733).
SCOUTING THE WIZARDS (19-40 as of 3/6)
Before their contest with the Cats the Wizards travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets…The Wizards have the third lowest winning percentage in the NBA (.328) and are ranked 13th in the Eastern conference. They are currently playing their best basketball of the season though, having won eight out of their last 13 outings…Defense and rebounding has been a factor in Washington’s recent success. They are averaging 43.3 rebounds – good enough to rank seventh in the NBA – and allowing only 95.2 points – good enough for sixth in the league. The emergence of Bradley Beal has also been essential for the Wizards. He is averaging 20.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his last five games…Washington has struggled offensively this season, averaging only 91.8 points, committing 15.6 turnovers and only connecting on 43.0 percent of their field goal attempts. The Wizards offensive woes could be key to the Cats securing a victory.
Come out and support your Bobcats as they tip off at 7 p.m. on Friday against the Thunder at the Time Warner Cable Arena®. Then follow the Cats as they travel to Washington to take on the Wizards at 8 p.m. on Saturday. You can catch the games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. As always, follow the live in-game chat by going to bobcats.com or downloading the Bobcats app on your smartphone.