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Open thread: Regular season game 27

The essentials:
Wizards (13-13) at Bobcats (10-15)
7 p.m.
Charlotte Bobcats Arena

This year:
November 21: Wizards 114, Bobcats 111 (OT).

Notable Bobcats numbers this season
26th in expected winning percentage (.314).
19th in pace factor (89.6 possessions per game).
24th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (103.1).
21st in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (109).

Key links
Queen City Hoops.
Bobcat Bonfire
The Charlotte Blogcat.
Bobcat Bonfire blog preview.
Competition discussion: Charlotte

Starting lineups:
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Emeka Okafor
C: Nazr Mohammed

PG: Roger Mason
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler (see below)
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's lines:
Wizards at Bobcats: Bobcats by 4.5
Over/Under on Big 2 scoring: 43.7 points.

Before we start, let's tie up some loose ends:

  • It's looking like Caron Butler will play tonight, according to Ivan Carter of the Post.  The Times was saying he was a game-time decision earlier today.  It's pretty simple: if Butler plays, we can win tonight.  If not, we're toast, mostly because it means either Antawn Jamison or Darius Songaila has to chase around Gerald Wallace the entire game.  
  • As for Antonio Daniels, he's recovering nicely, and is targeting Saturday's game against Miami (which I am supposed to attend, FWIW) as his return date, though it's more likely he'll wait until the January 2 game against Detroit.  Having AD back will help incredibly, because the offense hasn't eclipsed 92 points in the games he's missed.  Yes, they were slow-paced, but that's still a major problem.
  • As expected, the report that the Wizards were interested in Larry Hughes was bogus, according to John Mitchell of the Times.  My guess is the speculation came mostly from Hughes' party, seeing as he's publicly stated several times that he wishes he was back in DC.  Nostalgia aside, there's absolutely no reason to acquire Hughes, seeing as shooting guard is our deepest position, with Stevenson, Young, and Mason, not to mention Arenas and Butler, who can play the position in a pinch.  Throw in the awful contract, which runs a year longer than Etan's bad deal, and it just doesn't make sense.  Like Kelly Dwyer said today, good luck trading a guy with the worst contract in the league today.

As for tonight, Charlotte's one of those teams that looks pretty decent on paper, but there's just something missing.  Like Chicago, they have a couple decent players, but nobody who can take over a game.  The only problem is they don't have Chicago's depth, so they're even worse off.  Gerald Wallace is playing okay, but not nearly as well as in the last couple seasons.  Jason Richardson has picked it up a bit as of late, but he has been woefully average this year.  Raymond Felton is putting together a nice season, and Nazr Mohammad has helped thus far, but they don't do anything particularly well, other than forcing turnovers, which the Wizards usually fare well with.  Worse yet, they're kind of locked into this team, with Richardson and Wallace signed to long-term deals and Okafor and Felton likely to follow.  It illustrates once again why trying to build a team around cap space isn't always the best idea in this league.  

Still, it'll be important to control penetration and force them to fire away from the perimeter, particularly with Felton and Wallace.  I'd tell DeShawn to crowd Richardson and make him put the ball on the floor, and I'd double Okafor, particularly if rookie Jared Dudley is on the court.  Offensively, they need Roger Mason and Nick Young to play under control, because other than Okafor, the Bobcats have nothing inside.  I'd pound the offensive glass, because Charlotte is the third-worst defensive rebounding team in the league.  

This is an open game thread, so laugh at Michael Jordan here.