Bobcats-Spurs Preview

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

Spurs.

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

run.

“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

acquired.

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)

every game.”

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.