Bobcats counting on Ben Gordon to be their closer
By STEVE REED AP Sports Writer October 9, 2012 2:52PM
FILE - This 1971 file photo shows Detroit Lions' Alex Karras. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News reported Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, that the former All-Pro defensive lineman and actor has kidney failure and has been given only a few days to live. Lions president Tom Lewand says the NFL football franchise is deeply saddened to learn of Karras' condition. (AP Photo/File)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the game’s on the line Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap wants the ball in Ben Gordon’s hands.
Dunlap said Gordon, acquired in an offseason trade with the Detroit Pistons, is “an absolute killer” when it comes to making big shots.
Since coming into the league in 2004, only seven NBA players have scored more points (2,756) than Gordon in the fourth quarter and only nine have more points in the final two minutes of a game, according to STATS LLC.
Gordon has four game-winning shots in the final 10 seconds.
Whether or not he’ll get many opportunities to win games with the Bobcats remains to be seen.
Charlotte was an NBA-worst 7-59 last season and lost 20 games by at least 20 points.
Not many opportunities for last-second shots.
Still, at some point the Bobcats will need someone to finish contests and they believe Gordon’s reputation as a fourth quarter scorer will help. Dunlap has not so subtly reminded his players in practice of Gordon’s talents.
“I think it is incumbent on me to highlight that he would be a good option to get the ball at the end of the game,” said a grinning Dunlap.
The 29-year-old Gordon didn’t start Charlotte’s preseason opener against Washington and there’s a chance he may not start in the regular season.
Dunlap hasn’t made up his mind yet.
He said he won’t name any starters until later in the preseason.
But Gordon, the third overall pick in the 2004 draft, still made an impact coming off the bench against the Wizards with 16 points in a Charlotte win. That’s nothing new for Gordon. He’s scored 20 or more points coming off the bench 85 times during his eight-year NBA career.
He’s normally at his best in the fourth quarter.
When asked if he’s ready to be the Bobcats finisher, Gordon replied, “I sure hope so.”
“But at the end of the day those possessions are earned. Those aren’t just given to you. I’m looking to go out and earn those possessions and make the right plays and hopefully I can be one of the guys they rely on to finish in the fourth quarter,” he said.
The Bobcats are a young, rebuilding team that’s all about acquiring assets for the future.
That’s why the traded veteran Corey Maggette this offseason to Detroit in exchange for a future first-round draft pick. As part of that deal, the Bobcats had to absorb Gordon’s contract, which will pay him about $25 million over the next two seasons.
They aren’t viewing that contract as an albatross around their necks.
Dunlap loves what Gordon brings to the table and said he can really help them both on the court and as well as in a mentorship role to youngsters Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
“He’s a veteran who can help our pups, in terms of making them professional. Better his voice than mine,” Dunlap said.
Gordon should provide a much-needed outside threat.
He’s a career 41?percent 3-point shooter, a needed boost plus for a Bobcats team that finished last in the NBA in that category (29.5 percent) last season.
Yet he’ll earn his money when the game’s on the line.
“His role is typical of what it’s always been and I don’t want to reinvent him,” Dunlap said. “I want him to come in and make game-winning shots and work back from there. He can carry you sometimes. “
The Bobcats haven’t had a player proficient at taking that last-second shot since Stephen Jackson left for Milwaukee.
Gordon said that while he relishes the role of being a finisher, he’d also like to start.
“For whatever reason, people pay a lot of attention to that bench role, but I’ve started a lot of games,” said Gordon, who has started in 248 of 542 career games. “I’ve come off the bench too. To me it’s more about how I’m utilized and just knowing what my role is.
“I mean, sure I definitely want to get in the starting lineup. But I definitely want to be out there finishing games also. I think those are the two most important parts of the game -- starting and finishing.”