Coach Steve Clifford says that for the Charlotte Bobcats to reach their potential this season, shooting guard Ben Gordon needs to reach back in time five years to when he dominated as a Chicago Bull.
“I don’t see why not,” Gordon said Thursday after morning practice at UNC Asheville. “The team needs me. Every team I went to needed me to do that.”
Gordon, the Bobcats’ second-highest paid player this season at $13.2 million, averaged 11.2 points last season, matching his lowest scoring output in nine NBA seasons. Gordon said he’s not in decline.
“A lot of people think I can’t play (anymore) the way I did in Chicago, but I think I got better than I was in Chicago,” said Gordon, who averaged 20.7 points his last season as a Bull. “I’m a lot smarter than I was in Chicago, in great shape and I can still shoot the cover off the ball.”
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Gordon is a career 40-percent shooter from 3-point range. He figures to benefit greatly from the defensive attention new center Al Jefferson should attract in the low post.
“Not having to work so hard to create a shot, that’s going to really open my game up,” Gordon said. “I’m looking forward to being a recipient of the (defensive) attention Al receives. He’s a very willing passer.”
Gordon didn’t appear to get along particularly well with Mike Dunlap, who lasted a single season as Bobcats coach. It’s clear Gordon is enthused by what he’s seen from Clifford.
“He’s a straight shooter. He knows his stuff and he’s well prepared,” Gordon said. “He won’t let us go through the motions not doing things the right way. I like that a lot about him. He holds everybody accountable. When the coach does that it makes things easier on the group.”
Bounce back: Clifford said the Bobcats had a bad practice Wednesday night, then had their best practice this training camp Thursday morning. What stuck out Thursday?
“You could tell from the very beginning, the first drill, that their approach was to get better,” Clifford said. “Intensity, attention to detail, concentration – today we had all those things. Really good communication player-to-player.”
Nagging injuries: Clifford said forward Josh McRoberts (sore toe) and center Brendan Haywood (sprained foot) have been limited in camp. Neither has yet been able to go through a full practice.