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Game 22 Preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Injury Updates: The Blazers are listing forward Craig Smith as "questionable" with a viral infection. Batum is out with a left knee contusion.

Game Time: 7:00 p.m. TV: CSNNW

Just how bad are the Charlotte Bobcats this year? Michael Jackson's estate is suing them for copyright infringement. Leroy Brown is shaking his head and saying, "I can't compete with that!" At most arena turnstiles the ushers say, "Tickets, please!" In Charlotte they just ask, "Paper or plastic?"

Go with plastic. At least then you won't have to watch the second half.

Seriously, these guys are looking up in the standings at the Washington Wizards. That's supposed to be the kind of life-changing moment that drives you into rehab. But no, they just keep plugging along, losing to every team they see.

How bad are the Bobcats? They start both Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop. Now granted, the former is because Corey Maggette's hamstring wised up and left town but when you're thinking, "This team will be at least twice as good when Maggette returns" at this stage of his career, you've got problems. And starting Thomas and Diop implies that they've got even less reliable players somewhere on that roster. Ouch.

Gerald Henderson is sort of a bright spot for them. Due to his minutes played (almost 35 per game) the third-year shooting guard is averaging career highs in plenty of categories including, encouragingly enough, shooting percentage. But their Big Gun still only averages 15 points per game and his advanced numbers are gruesome. Point guard D.J. Augustin is having a so-so season. His shooting percentages are down, assists up. He's likely the best player on the team but he was never meant to carry a franchise by himself. Boris Diaw is becoming a shadow of the player he used to be...and what he used to be was mostly serviceable. Don't even talk about Thomas and Diop. I suppose power forward D.J. White is doing OK. But I'm grasping for straws now.

Let's put it this way. Nobody on this team rebounds. Nobody's a great defender. Nobody can hit a long shot. Few of them have decent shooting percentages at all. The highest PER of the whole bunch is Augustin at 16.5, which is a little above average. They don't even average 90 points as a team. They give up over 100 per night, the only team in the league to do so. This is not fun. If now-48-year-old Bobcats former GM Michael Jordan's goal was to bring credibility to his claims that he could suit up today and still make a difference, he did it with this team.

I don't even need to go over the team numbers. Bottom third in the league in every offensive category that matters, bottom five in the league in every defensive category that matters outside of blocked shots...if you think that matters.

So yeah...Portland ought to win this game. Big. Anything else means they got lazy and got outworked by a huge margin. That would be a disaster of epic proportions.

Get the Charlotte story at Rufus on Fire.

Enter the Jersey Contest form for this game here.

--Dave (