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News » Bobcats-Cavaliers Preview

Bobcats-Cavaliers Preview

Bobcats-Cavaliers Preview
Several years ago, Larry Brown was one of the most sought-after coaches in the NBA, and his flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers while coaching an Eastern Conference rival was one of the top stories during the 2005 playoffs.

Brown didn't end up with Cleveland, and his career hasn't been the same since.

After a disastrous stint with a dysfunctional team and two seasons out of coaching, Brown makes his return to the bench with the Charlotte Bobcats as they open their season by visiting the Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Brown was named the third Bobcats coach in three seasons in April. It's his ninth NBA head coaching gig and first since his dramatic fall from grace, which was at least partially set into action by speculation that he'd take a job with Cleveland.

Brown, now 68, led Detroit to the NBA title in his first season with the team in 2004, and again took the Pistons to the finals in 2005. The team fell short against San Antonio that spring amid reports that Brown would be leaving to take an executive position with the Cavaliers.

Brown turned down the Cleveland offer to take over as coach of the New York Knicks. He was fired after one tumultuous season in which he clashed with management and players and tied a franchise record with 59 losses.

A bitter dispute with the Knicks over how much money he was owed, combined with the perception that he'd left the Pistons on bad terms, likely contributed to Brown not getting another coaching job until Bobcats managing partner Michael Jordan - a fellow North Carolina alum - came calling.

With Brown trying to resurrect his coaching career, Jordan hoping to save his sinking reputation as an executive and the Bobcats looking for their first winning season, the trio appears to be a good fit.

Brown said he told his players early in training camp to forget about the franchise's first four seasons and focus on this one.

"I told them to not worry about what we've done in the past," said Brown, one of five NBA coaches with 1,000 wins and the only coach to lead teams to NBA and NCAA championships. "Shoot, I wouldn't be here if Michael worried about what I did my last year. He's given me a chance."

An 0-8 preseason and questionable depth leave the Bobcats with plenty of concerns as they try to improve after last season's step backward.

"I'm not down," said Brown. "Even though we were 0-8 and, God, you wish you could have some positive result in some of these games, I do think we're getting better."

They'll have to if they want to improve upon last season's 32-50 finish. Much of the burden will fall on Jason Richardson, the team leader with 21.8 points per game last season, and Gerald Wallace, who's increased his scoring average in each season since Charlotte acquired him in the 2004 expansion draft.

The Bobcats are also counting on strong returns from Adam Morrison and Sean May, both of whom missed last season following knee surgery. May, however, hasn't inspired confidence. He collected more fouls (22) than rebounds (21) while lumbering through the preseason.

"Right now I don't think he's ready to play at all," Brown said, adding that he'd probably go with power forward by committee to start the season. "I think he's trying, but I don't think he's in the kind of shape to be able to compete on this level and do all the things he's capable of doing."

That might not bode well for a meeting with the Cavaliers, who followed up last season's 45-37 finish by losing their 2008-09 debut on the road to defending champion Boston on Tuesday night. They took a seven-point lead into halftime, but were outscored 24-13 in the third quarter en route to a 90-85 defeat.

On the night the Celtics were presented with their championship rings, the Cavaliers committed 21 turnovers, including four from point guard Mo Williams in his debut with the team.

"We congratulate (the Celtics). They had a great season and we're happy for them," Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao said. "Seeing that makes us hungry to go out and get a ring of our own."

Cleveland won three of four against Charlotte last season, with all four games being decided by seven points or fewer, including one in double overtime.

Cavs forward LeBron James, last season's scoring champ with 30.0 points per game, averaged 31.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists while shooting 50.8 percent from the field in three games against the Bobcats in 2007-08.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 29, 2008


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