The Charlotte Bobcats worked tirelessly in the off season to change the identity of the ball club (name change not included) in preparation for the 2013-2014 campaign.
The big free agent signing of Al Jefferson was a franchise first and the re-signing of key players like Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts was an uncharacteristic but popular business decision by the club.
The key change in the identity of the Bobcats came in the signing of first-year head coach, Steve Clifford who was brought in after the disastrous 21-61 season under Mike Dunlap.
With very little turnover in the roster Clifford faces the challenge of taking the same car from a year ago, giving it a tuneup, making it run smoother and getting it to make all the critical stops. "We are not satisfied being better than last year's team," Clifford said in an interview, "our guys believe we can win every night and we don't settle for less than that type of effort".
Through December the tweaks under the hood have paid off as the Bobcats are holding opponents to an average of 94 points per game after allowing 102.7 ppg a year ago, while doubling their win total (14).
Right now Charlotte is mired in a four-game losing streak that started at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder two days before Christmas. In the past week they have lost the first three games of a five-game road trip, highlighted by a 112-85 thumping at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers on New Years day.
If you ask anyone in the Bobcats organization, this is precisely what Clifford was brought in to deal with. "Steve has been around this league for a long time," team owner Michael Jordan said in an interview, "he knows what it's like to go on long winning streaks and how to keep his team positive during a stretch of losses".
Stopping the bleeding is something Dunlap clearly struggled with as Charlotte spent the month of December, 2012 losing 15 straight contests on the way to a season-high 18-game losing streak. "This league is all about getting things turned around as quickly as possible when they're not going your way," Clifford said, "and we are going to make the adjustments necessary to get us back on track".
Point guard Kemba Walker echoed his coaches sentiments saying, "we are not hanging our heads in the locker room, we are just trying to get back to our brand of basketball and that starts with me setting the tone for my teammates".
The Bobcats (14-19) have two games remaining on the road starting with the red hot Portland Trailblazers (25-7) on Thursday night and ending with a trip to Sacramento to face the Kings on Saturday, January 4 at 10 pm ET.