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Charlotte Bobcats coach happy with players’ synergy

By Rick Bonnell
rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

LAS VEGAS Agenda One for new Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford was creating some synergy between the four players he knows are in this team’s future.

So Jeff Taylor, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and rookie Cody Zeller each averaged over 25 minutes in the Bobcats’ first three summer-league games.

Expect that to change in the remaining games the team will play in Las Vegas.

“The point of summer league was for our staff (to work with) our guys, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” Clifford said after an 84-71 victory over the New York Knicks. “Those lines of communications have started. So I don’t think it’s as necessary that they play all the minutes going forward.”

The Bobcats have 10 other players in Las Vegas and Clifford has sat out at least three of those each game. Forward Jamie Skeen, who played at North Mecklenburg High, and forward Deron Washington have yet to play.

“These guys have been great,” Clifford said of the players trying out. “Sometimes in summer league you can get a mixed bag (of attitudes), but every one of them has been great, so I want them to get a chance to play.”

Shift in defense: Clifford has instructed his players he’s more concerned with them containing drives and post-ups with help defense than trying to get flashy steals. That’s a bit of an adjustment for guard-forward Taylor.

“Coach has been pretty adamant about how he wants us to play defense,” Taylor said. “Our defense is now more about helping teammates than stealing the ball. It’s more about getting the ball out of the paint.”

Wait-and-see: The Bobcats are guaranteed to play at least two more games in the Las Vegas summer league, but they have little clue when and against whom. The league switched this year to an elimination tournament this year after each team plays three games.

Tuesday is the last day before elimination games begin. At 2-1, the Bobcats could get a bye and not play again until Thursday.

If they lose their next game, they’d go into an elimination pool for another game. Or they could keep advancing through the field.

Here and there: N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie, an undrafted rookie on the Knicks’ squad, finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five turnovers against the Bobcats…Bobcats center Biyombo totaled 11 rebounds Monday against the Knicks, but he took just one shot from the field in 25 1/2 minutes. It was a dunk, which he made.

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