Hornets playoffs: Part 8 – Early season trade sparks expansion franchise into playoffs in 2010
This is the eighth in a series on Charlotte’s previous NBA playoff seasons. Here’s a look at other stories in the 10-part series:
Part 1 – The Hive Is Alive as the Hornets win their first postseason series in 1993. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-1-the-hive-is-alive-as-the-hornets-win-their-first-postseason-series-in-1993/
Part 2 – Homecourt no advantage against Michael Jordan’s late-season return in 1995. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-2-homecourt-no-advantage-against-michael-jordans-late-season-return-in-1995/
Part 3 – Hard Ball runs into a motivated former Charlotte All-Star in 1997. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-3-hard-ball-runs-into-a-motivated-former-charlotte-all-star-in-1997/
Part 4 – Hornets dispatch Hawks, hand “Last Dance” Bulls their first playoff loss in 1998. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-4-hornets-dispatch-hawks-hand-last-dance-bulls-their-first-playoff-loss-in-1998/
Part 5 – Tragedy mars season, then Iverson too much to overcome in 2000 playoffs. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-5-tragedy-mars-season-then-iverson-too-much-to-overcome-in-2000-playoffs/
Part 6 – Headband fever sparks longest playoff run in season of off-court turmoil in 2001. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-6-headband-fever-sparks-longest-playoff-run-in-season-of-off-court-turmoil-in-2001/
Part 7 – Lame duck Hornets again advance to conference semifinals in 2002. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/hornets-playoffs-part-7-lame-duck-hornets-again-advance-to-conference-semifinals-in-2002/
Part 9 – First-year head coach, offseason free agent acquisition led to playoffs in 2014
Part 10 – Franchise snaps long postseason losing streak with 2016 postseason play
By Richard Walker
Changes marked the Charlotte Bobcats during the 2009-10 season.
Not only did an early season trade shake up the team’s fortunes for the better, veteran coach Larry Brown was having an impact on the franchise in his second year as head coach and, finally, the legendary Michael Jordan became the team’s majority owner just as it was picking up speed for a historic playoff run.
An expansion franchise in 2004 after the original Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans 2 1-2 years earlier, the Bobcats of owner Bob Johnson had never been a playoff contender in their first five seasons.
A 35-47 record in Brown’s first season of 2008-09 season had been the team’s best record.
A 3-9 start to the 2009-10 season hardly had anybody thinking the 2009-10 season would be much different.
But four days before a third straight loss made them 3-9, Charlotte had acquired Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors.
Jackson saw playing for Brown and the Bobcats as a career restart – and delighted in leading Charlotte to its first-ever postseason appearance.
After the team ended December with a 12-18 record, it caught fire in January with a 12-4 mark that earned Brown conference coach of the month honors.
On Jan. 12, Jackson scored 43 points in a 102-94 victory over the visiting Houston Rockets to set a record for the expansion franchise.
Five days later, the NBA named Jackson the Eastern Conference player of the week.
As the season wore on, Jackson, 2004 expansion pick Gerald Wallace, 2005 first round draft pick Raymond Felton, 2008 trade acquisition Boris Diaw and 2009 trade acquisition Tyson Chandler bonded to help the team as it made its first first postseason push.
Chandler suffered an aggravating left ankle injury that eventually cost him 29 games and led the Bobcats to make two trade deadline deals to keep them on their date with destiny; Charlotte acquired Tyrus Thomas from Chicago and Theo Ratliff from San Antonio and both played key roles the rest of the season.
After a 4-7 February, Charlotte went 11-6 in March and 5-3 in April to secure a No. 7 Eastern Conference playoff seed for the expansion franchise’s first postseason berth and the city’s first appearance since 2002.
In the postseason, the Bobcats drew defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando with a pair of future members of the organization in All-Star center Dwight Howard and assistant coach Steve Clifford; Clifford was Charlotte’s head coach from 2013 to 2018 (guiding the team to two playoff berths) and Howard played for the team in the 2017-18 season.
While Howard was a force – he was All-NBA, All-NBA Defense and NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 – guard Jameer Nelson and veteran forward Vince Carter were just as important to the Magic’s 4-0 first round series victory.
After losing 98-89 and 92-77 at Orlando in the first two games of the series, a crowd of 19,596 (the largest at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center at the time) came out to root on their Bobcats. But Nelson had 32 points and Howard had 13 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks as the Magic took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 90-86 victory.
In the final game, Carter scored 21 points and his 3-pointer with 9:25 left in the third quarter gave Orlando the lead for good in a 99-90 victory.
The 2010 Bobcats
Record: 44-38 (0-4 in playoffs)
Head coach: Larry Brown
Top scorers: Stephen Jackson 21.1, Gerald Wallace 18.2, Raymond Felton 12.1, Boris Diaw 11.3, Tyrus Thomas 10.1, Nazr Mohammed 7.9
Top rebounders: Wallace 10.0, Tyson Chandler 6.1, Thomas 6.1, Diaw 5.2, Mohammed 5.2, Jackson 5.1
Notes: Wallace was first All-NBA Defense in a year in which he played with three different starting centers – Mohammed started 29 of 58 games, Chandler 27 of 51 and Theo Ratliff 26 of 28.