The general consensus was that Charlotte improved itself with its moves at the trade deadline, but last night's loss to the Clippers showed how the Bobcats weakened themselves, too. The Cats eviscerated their wing depth in order to add some frontcourt help in the form of Tyrus Thomas, and we saw the results in L.A. Without Flip Murray to bring in, Larry Brown was terrified to go to his bench. Instead he watched his two key wings run out of gas down the stretch.
Stephen Jackson, a 31-year-old guard who has averaged over 40 minutes a game since his trade to the Bobcats, may have hit the wall last night. He was unspeakably awful (1-for-16, five turnovers), but Brown left him in nearly the entire game before he fouled out with 2:06 left. Gerald Wallace played all 48 minutes at the 3; he scored 24 points in the first two-and-a-half quarters but only eight in the final 18 minutes, three of which came on a desperate late heave after the game had been settled.
Brown plainly doesn’t trust Gerald Henderson or Stephen Graham as a wing reserve, and I can’t say that I blame him. To sub out Jackson, Charlotte either played D.J. Augustin in a small backcourt with Raymond Felton or had Boris Diaw slide down to the 3 and Wallace to the 2. As a result, their playoff hopes depend heavily on Jackson’s and Wallace’s durability; if either player is injured, there’s really no fallback.
The Bobcats' loss also denied me a great statistical note: Had Charlotte won, all 10 Southern teams would have had winning records. As of Monday, Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta all were at least one game over .500, so it was up to the Bobcats to make it a clean sweep.