New Charlotte Bobcats starter Jeff Taylor hopes to emerge from recent slump

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comDecember 5, 2013 

With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out at least a month with a fractured left hand, Jeff Taylor is now the Charlotte Bobcats’ starting small forward. Taylor knows he has to play better.

“I’ve struggled a little bit. I had a stretch where I was playing well and now I haven’t played so well,” Taylor said at practice Thursday. “I just need to stay at it and hopefully things will turn around.”

Taylor hasn’t scored in double figures in any of his past eight games. In that span he’s averaged 4.4 points on 29.5 percent shooting. That is nothing like his strong play at Las Vegas Summer League and while representing Sweden at Eurobasket.

“I’ve struggled a little bit from midrange. My percentages are a little bit lower than last year,” Taylor said. “(It’s about) staying with the things I did over the summer. Keep faith in the work I’ve put in and everything will turn around.”

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford met with Taylor Thursday, telling him not to change his approach just because he’ll be playing more. Clifford said there’s sometimes a notable difference in how focused Taylor appears when he plays.

“When he’s concentrated and focused he’s a very good player at both ends of the floor,” Clifford said. “When he’s not as locked (in) as he needs to be, then he’s not as good.”

Taylor is a better shooter than Kidd-Gilchrist. While Taylor is a very good defender, Kidd-Gilchrist is the Bobcats’ best defender.

“If you look at some of the games he’s already had this year – from the way he defended LeBron (James) twice, Paul George, Rudy Gay (with the) game on the line – there are not many guys who can do what he can do physically as a competitor,” Clifford said of Kidd-Gilchrist.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s fracture is at the base of his left ring finger. The Bobcats project he’ll be out 4-6 weeks.

With Taylor going into the starting lineup, Clifford plans to use shooting guard Gerald Henderson or forward Anthony Tolliver as the backup small forward, depending on the matchup.

Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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