Stephen Jackson has made a huge difference in his first month
with the Charlotte Bobcats, turning the league’s worst offensive
team into a playoff-caliber club seemingly overnight.
Jackson has yet to transform the Bobcats into a good team away
from home, however, and they’ll have a tough task avoiding a ninth
road loss in 10 games Friday night when they face the San Antonio
Charlotte (9-11) was 3-6 when it acquired Jackson, and lost its
first three games – all on the road – with him, falling six games
under .500 and looking like a long shot to make the franchise’s
first playoff appearance.
Suddenly, things are looking up for the league’s most recent
addition. The Bobcats went from averaging 82.4 points without
Jackson to 96.6 since his arrival, and they’ve won six of their
past eight after he and Gerald Wallace scored 25 points apiece
Tuesday in a 107-95 victory against Denver.
Aside from scoring 10 fourth-quarter points, Jackson also earned
high marks for his defense. He kept Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony
scoreless for the final 4:13 as the Bobcats closed on a 16-6
“I want be to be able to make plays for guys, get my shots and
at the same time guard their best player,” Jackson told the NBA’s
official Web site. “Anytime there is a great scorer out there and I
can guard him it gets my game going. It gets my level up and I’m
always up to that challenge.”
Jackson’s arrival has also helped Gerald Wallace elevate his
game. Wallace was averaging 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while
shooting 35.4 percent in his first nine games, but has averaged
18.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and shot 49.6 percent since Jackson was
Charlotte’s defense, meanwhile, has allowed 3.7 more points per
game than it did before the trade, but coach Larry Brown’s club
remains the league’s stingiest (90.6 ppg).
“Our defense has always been good,” said Wallace, the league’s
leading rebounder (12.4 per game) despite being listed at 6-foot-7.
“If we can keep our turnovers down and get back on defense and keep
people in front of us we have a pretty good opportunity (to win)
Wallace, the only original Bobcat still with the franchise, has
never played well against the Spurs (10-9), and that’s part of the
reason Charlotte has lost nine of 10 all time to San Antonio.
Wallace has averaged 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting
36.4 percent in eight games against the Spurs with the Bobcats.
San Antonio hasn’t looked much like the team that entered
2009-10 as the winningest of the decade, already posting two
three-game losing streaks – one more than it had last season.
The Spurs snapped their most recent skid Wednesday with one of
their best offensive performances. Richard Jefferson scored 23
points and Manu Ginobili added 20 off the bench as San Antonio shot
55.3 percent in a 118-106 win over Sacramento.
“We got some buckets in transition and made some plays and for
the most part just did things with confidence,” said Jefferson,
who had averaged 7.8 points in his past five games. “I’d like to
believe that the more I play, the more used to the offense I’m
going to get.”
Ginobili’s breakout game has to be just as encouraging for the
Spurs. He had averaged 9.5 points on 34.3 percent shooting in his
previous four games after returning from a strained left groin.
Tony Parker had 21 points and seven assists in San Antonio’s
100-86 win over Charlotte on March 10, a game Ginobili missed with
an ankle injury.