NBA: Bobcats eyeing better start in preseason

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 5, 2009

By Mike Cranston
Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó The Charlotte Bobcats will be without two starters when they become the first team to face the new LeBron James-Shaquille O’Neal combination.
Still, it’s a near certainty they’ll get off to a better start today in Cleveland than they did in last year’s exhibition opener.
All they have to do is not trail 40-9 after the first quarter.
“That was horrible, man,” guard Raymond Felton said Monday. “That was one of the worst quarters I’ve ever seen in basketball history.”
The Bobcats shot 3-for-21 and committed 13 fouls in their first quarter under new coach Larry Brown. It was also a sign that Brown wasn’t going to accept the roster he inherited.
The Hall of Famer soon made three in-season trades and another in July. Only five players remain that took part in that 118-80 debacle in Orlando, the beginning of an 0-8 preseason.
“It was one of those games that really stayed in our heads the whole year,” Felton said. “Even after that point we still struggled for 20 more games. But we finally got it.”
The Bobcats did recover from a 7-18 start to the regular season to be in the playoff hunt until the final week, before a season-ending four-game losing streak left Charlotte 35-47.
“I thought you guys were thinking after going 0-and-whatever in the preseason, these guys don’t even have a clue of what the playoffs are going to smell like,” forward Gerald Wallace said. “But we put ourselves right there in a position to make the playoffs. That in itself shows the improvement under coach Brown.”
Now familiar with Brown’s style and demands, the Bobcats think they contend for a playoff berth this season. That will mean the healthy return of center Tyson Chandler and power forward Boris Diaw. Neither will play against the Cavaliers as they nurse ankle injuries.
Chandler, acquired from New Orleans this summer for Emeka Okafor, was fitted with new orthotics on Monday and participated in his first 5-on-5 drills of camp as he recovers from offseason surgery on his ankle and toe.